Durbin, Duckworth Introduce Bill To Support NPS Management Of Pullman Historical Park

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today introduced a bill that would ensure protections for National Park Service (NPS) to acquire land and enter into cooperative agreements at Pullman National Historical Park in order to advance park management. The legislation, the Pullman National Historical Park Act 2019, would ensure protections for the Pullman area and provide NPS more flexibility to work with historic buildings and assets that it does not own, but that lie within the boundary of the Pullman National Monument. 

“The National Park Service – along with local partners and members of the Chicago community – have worked hard to rehabilitate the historic structures in the Pullman neighborhood.  Our bill gives NPS the authority it needs to efficiently finish its work so Illinoisans and Americans alike can visit and learn from this unique place in our country’s history,” Durbin said. 

“Preserving the iconic Pullman National Historical Park – the site where a labor strike in 1894 led to the establishment of Labor Day – is critical to the vibrant fabric of the Chicago community and an important part of our nation’s history,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to join with Senator Durbin to introduce a bill that would allow for NPS and members of the community to make sure that Americans from all over can enjoy this site for decades to come.”

Durbin first introduced legislation in 2014 to make Pullman a National Historical Park, and urged President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to declare Pullman a National Monument.  In 2015, President Obama declared the site a National Monument, making it a unit of the National Park System.  Since then, NPS has been working on the park and is expected to open the renovated clock tower and grounds in early 2021.  By the end of 2021, the city of Chicago will complete the redesign of 111th street as Pullman’s gateway corridor.

The Pullman site was originally developed by George Pullman in 1880 and was the first American industrial town.  The Pullman site served as the catalyst for the first industry-wide strike in the United States and played an important role in African American and early Civil Rights history through the legacy of the Pullman Porters and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first black union. Labor Day was established as a federal holiday following the 1894 Pullman labor strike. The neighborhood is also a well-preserved example of 19th century urban planning and architecture, especially the work of Solon Spencer Beman. The area has been designated as a registered National Historic Landmark District, an Illinois State Landmark, and a City of Chicago Landmark District.

“We are grateful to Senators Durbin and Duckworth and their constant support and leadership, first in establishing Chicago’s first national park and now giving it a new name – Pullman National Historical Park,” said Lynn McClure, senior regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Since becoming a national park site, Pullman has helped transform the far south side and the region by attracting investment in historic renovation, transit and infrastructure that benefits visitors and residents alike.”