CHICAGO (CBS) — President Barack Obama’s visit to Chicago on Thursday will officially create the city’s first national monument, and commemorate the Pullman Historic District for its role in labor and civil rights history.
Obama was scheduled to speak at Gwendolyn Brooks Preparatory Academy at 2 p.m., to designate Pullman as a national monument. He began his political career as a community organizer in Pullman and nearby Roseland.
The independent Newberry Library has preserved thousands and thousands of records from the Pullman Palace Car Company, which manufactured railroad cars from the middle of the 19th century through the early 20th century.
Rachel Bohlmann, who heads the library’s Scholl Center for American History, said railroad baron George Pullman created one of the nation’s first company towns on prairie land that is now the neighborhood that bears his name, in an effort to insulate his workforce from the influence of organized labor.
“It was built in the 1880s by George Pullman as a way of – he believed – to move his factories and his workers from the kind of influence that – what he feared – was the kind of radical working class, labor-organizing influence of the city,” she said.