Pullman

Pullman

Pullman is a historic neighborhood with an intriguing past. It has the distinction of being an entirely planned community—commissioned by a famous railroad car tycoon in the 1870s.

George Pullman of Pullman Palace Car fame was the mastermind behind the existence of Chicago’s well-known Pullman neighborhood. Back in the day, his sleeping and parlor cars were in high demand and George needed to fulfill the flood of orders coming in. It was obvious he was going to have to build a new factory to increase production, but George saw an opportunity to make this expansion something revolutionary.

He bought 4,000 acres near Lake Calumet and hired an architect to design a town around the factory where Pullman employees could live with their families. The idea was to attract an entire workforce to Pullman with the promise of jobs, accommodations, schools, parks, civic attractions, stores and much more. It was a huge success and Pullman was coined “The World’s Most Perfect Town.” At the time, laborers often had to live in less than ideal living conditions, but Pullman was an innovative development with comfortable residences and modern luxuries such as indoor plumbing and gas.  

Life was grand in Pullman until sales of Pullman Cars started to fall off following an economic downturn in the late 1890s. Even though many of Pullman’s employees were laid off or suffered pay cuts, George refused to lower housing rents. This prompted workers to go on strike. The controversy was big news and caught the attention of the federal government. In 1889, the Supreme Court decided George had to relinquish his ownership of the homes in Pullman and the town was absorbed into Chicago as another neighborhood.

Pullman was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971 and today people enjoy touring the neighborhood’s antiquated landscape. Many of the streets, homes and public buildings have been carefully restored to preserve the community’s original grandeur. The Pullman Civic Organization and the Historic Pullman Foundation were instrumental in revitalizing this unique Chicago treasure. Now, it is one of the city’s most popular walking tours and will forever remain a reminder of Chicago’s fascinating past.

Pullman is located on Chicago’s far South Side about 16 miles from the Loop, tucked between two major arteries of transportation—the Bishop Ford Freeway (I-94) and the Metra Electric District Line. Whether you have a car or travel by train, you are well-connected to the rest of the city. Within the neighborhood, which extends north to 99th Street and south to 115th Street, there are several bus routes to help you get around. Pullman’s residential blocks line Cottage Grove Avenue (which parallels the Metra tracks) and the rest of the neighborhood is industrial parks or undeveloped land.