By Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) — On this Labor Day, Pullman has high hopes for a big attraction coming to Chicago’s far South Side that pays tribute to the labor movement.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports it’s been years in the making.

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The hope is that by Labor Day next year, they’ll be welcoming visitors to the Pullman National Monument. Pullman is considered a birthplace of the American labor movement.

The new chapter on this Labor Day groundbreaking on a $34 million visitors center of the Pullman Historic District.

“Today, we’re not just breaking ground on an historic site,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “We’re also laying the foundation for preserving our country’s storied history of labor and civil rights activism where Chicago played a central role.”

It was here in the late 19th century that the Pullman Company, which made railroad cars, slashed its workers salaries. They then went on strike. President Grover Cleveland ordered federal troops to stop the strike. Twenty-nine employees were killed in clashes troops.

Soon after, Labor Day was born.

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The union representing Pullman’s African American sleeping car porters became a political force. In 2015, President Barack Obama designated Pullman Historic District a national monument.

David Doig is president of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, which has guided a number of projects in Pullman. He believes the national monument will be a major tourist attraction and spark greater economic growth here.

“So people are going to need places to eat and sleep and other gift shops and all those kind of things,” Doing said. “So we hope that this will create hundreds of new jobs to bring revitalization to the Pullman community.”

“Today’s grand gem is to break ground on our national monument so we can get this place landscaped,” said Ald Anthony Beale (9th). “And we can get this building opened so we can start attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to our community every single year.”

“We actually think it will be great to open the new National Monument visitor center on Labor Day next year,” Doing said. “So we hope to be having this same conversation and instead of breaking ground, actually cutting a ribbon.”

Located at 11141 South Cottage Grove Avenue, it’s a 12 acre site and its heart: the refurbished clock tower built in 1880.
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