Durbin, Kirk Kelly Applaud Opportunity To Discuss National Park Designation For Pullman



Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will host public meeting on August 21


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will host a public meeting on August 21 to discuss possible options for including Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood within the national park system, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-2) announced today.  The community discussion will begin at 6:30 PM at the Pullman Factory Complex with representatives from the National Park Service, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and all three congressional offices in attendance. 


“Next week’s public meeting will provide the community with a great opportunity to showcase the important role the Pullman neighborhood has played in the history of Chicago and our nation,” said Durbin.  “Elevating Pullman to a National Park would provide preservation and conservation opportunities for the site, increase tourism, and facilitate job creation on Chicago's South Side.  I am happy that the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is hosting this important discussion with the National Park Service in attendance.”


“Designating the Pullman Historic District as a National Park could draw nearly 300,000 visitors each year, spur job creation and infuse millions into Chicago's South Side,” Senator Kirk said. “With more than 100 years of civil rights and industrial history, Pullman is an important landmark that should be conserved so that all Americans can learn of its unique place in history.” 


“This meeting is an important step in the process of creating a national park at Pullman, a project to preserve Pullman’s place in America’s labor movement that would spark tourism, job creation and economic development,” said Congresswoman Kelly.  “Pullman is the convergence of so many great American stories, stories that deserve to be told. I’d like to thank the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency for hosting this public meeting and the National Park Service for participating and giving the community a vital opportunity to have a voice in the development of this project.”


Earlier this year, Durbin, Kirk and Kelly introduced legislation to create the Pullman National Historical Park in the neighborhood’s historical district, an architecturally unique neighborhood which played important roles in America’s railroad, industrial and labor history.


Their bill will provide for greater coordination of preservation and protection efforts by federal, state and local agencies by creating a national park within the boundaries of the current Pullman Historical District, which is bounded by 103rd Street to the north, 115th Street to the south, Cottage Grove Avenue to the west, and the Norfolk & Western Rail Line to the east. Initially, the National Park Service (NPS), which administers national parks, will own the Pullman Factory Complex and the land on which it sits, with the option of acquiring additional property or assets should they be made available.


In January, the NPS released a study which found that Pullman was “conclusively nationally significant” as a historical site.  More than 100 different organizations have endorsed the creation of a national park in Pullman, including city, county and state parks officials; preservationist groups; labor organizations; and tourism advocates. The creation of the national park site will increase jobs and boost Pullman’s economy as a result of added tourism dollars: in 2012, national park visitors contributed more than $30 billion to local economies and supported more than 250,000 jobs. Studies show that every dollar invested in national park operations generates ten dollars of local economic activity.


The Pullman site was originally developed by industrialist 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 as well as the development of 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. Today, the area has been designated as a registered National Historic Landmark District, an Illinois State Landmark, and a City of Chicago Landmark District.