Pullman District pushing for national historical park status

National historical park designation would be city's first

December 6, 2012

By Rebecca Kruth

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(Flickr/Kymberly Janisch)
Historic townhouses in the Pullman District.

The historic Pullman district already has city, state and federal historic landmark status.

Now, it could become Chicago's first national historical park.

Pullman Artspace chair Arthur Pearson said the district has some unique stories to tell: stories that can’t be found in other national parks.

“Pullman, of course, as you may know was the site of the famous landmark strike of 1894 against the Pullman Company,” Pearson said. “Also, the Pullman Company was the first company to negotiate with the African-American community to establish, basically, the Pullman Porters. That was an extraordinary undertaking and accomplishment.”

Pearson said historical park status would bring more displays and educational opportunities for visitors. The community plans to use historic public buildings to house programming and retail services for the district.

But before the national park designation becomes official, Pullman has a few steps to complete.

One of the first requirements is a recommendation from the National Park Service, which Pearson said could come as early as next spring.

From there, the community would begin advocating at the federal level.

“We need to do the advocacy to get Congress to pass a bill establishing Pullman as a national historical park,” Pearson said. “[Or], the President of the United States actually has the authority by executive order to designate Pullman as a national historical monument, which is sort of a first-cousin to a national historical park.”

Lynn McClure is Director of the Midwest Regional Office of the National Parks Conservation Association.

She said the designation would benefit the area by bringing jobs and economic growth to the Southeast Side of the city.

“With Pullman’s location along the Bishop Ford Freeway, a national park would help rebrand this major southern gateway into the City of Chicago,” McClure said in a press release.

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