Durbin, Kirk, Kelly Applaud President Obama's Announcement That Pullman Historical District Will Become Part Of The National Park System

[CHICAGO, IL] — U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL) today applauded President Obama’s announcement that a portion of Chicago’s Pullman Historic District will be designated as a National Monument, making it a unit of the National Park System. Durbin, Kirk, and Kelly have worked to secure national park status for the architecturally unique neighborhood which played important roles in America’s railroad, industrial and labor history.

“The future of America’s next great urban national landmark lies in the Pullman community’s storied past. As an Illinoisan, I am proud to represent this community, which has come together to share its proud legacy of labor and civil rights. And as an American, I look forward to joining visitors from across the country in exploring a new monument to this critical chapter in our national history,” Durbin said. “I thank Senator Kirk and Representative Kelly for being my partners in this effort, and congratulate the many members of this community who have worked so hard to restore and preserve this unique landmark.”


“I fought for this designation with Senator Durbin and Rep. Kelly because regardless of party, it was the right thing to do for our state. As Chicago's first national monument, the Pullman District will bring thousands of tourists to Chicagoland every year, which will help to breathe new life into our local economies,” Kirk said. “Today I am proud that America's first industrial town founded by George Pullman is receiving the recognition it deserves as a national monument.”


“Pullman National Monument will be a crown jewel of the community, a remarkable achievement made possible only through the cooperation and collaboration of leaders from the public and private sectors and the residents of the neighborhood. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of many, the history and legacy of Pullman will endure for generations to come and people from all over the country will be encouraged to visit and learn more about the vital role Pullman played in our nation’s labor and civil rights history,” said Kelly.

Under this announcement, the Pullman Historic District will become a national monument 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 and monuments, 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. Establishing Pullman as a part of the National Park System will allow for greater coordination of preservation and protection efforts by federal, state and local agencies.


In August, Durbin wrote President Obama urging him to use his authority to designate a portion of Chicago’s Pullman Historic District as a unit of the National Park System. Earlier last 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.


In 2014, 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. The area has been designated as a registered National Historic Landmark District, an Illinois State Landmark, and a City of Chicago Landmark District.