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Black History Month and the Pullman National Monument

Exhibits at the future National Park Service Visitor Center for the Pullman National Monument will include a replica of a partial Pullman Palace Car Company sleeper. The Pullman Company was the first to hire members of the African American community for jobs as porters, waiters and maids.

Scheduled to open in late 2021, the Visitor Center will provide an in-depth look at the 1894 Pullman strike and boycott. The strike captured the nation’s attention and shut down rail travel west of Detroit. That shutdown affected 250,000 workers in more than two dozen states. Eventually President Cleveland brought in federal troops, which led to violence and bloodshed.

Other exhibits will examine the creation in 1925 of an African American union named the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which played a pivotal role in the early civil rights movement when it won a major contract with the Pullman Company in 1937.

The Pullman National Monument and the Pullman Historic District are available for walking tours. The 1880s district developed by George Pullman on 4,000 acres was one of the first planned industrial towns designed to offer factory workers and their families comfortable (for the time) and safe living conditions. The location conveniently provided easy access to factories for the Pullman Palace Car Company.

After the strike of 1894, the Illinois Supreme Court required the Pullman Palace Car Company to sell off the town at which point the City of Chicago acquired the town in 1889.

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