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Event in Chicago celebrates Brocton native

George Pullman

CHICAGO — The public is invited by the National Park Service and Illinois Department of Natural Resources to the Grand Opening of the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center and State Historic Site grounds this coming Labor Day weekend. The weekend will feature tours of both the visitor center and the Hotel Florence, as well as interpretive programming and several other events and activities organized by partners throughout the Pullman Historic District.

The Monument is named after George Pullman, who was an industrialist known for manufacturing the Pullman sleeping car in the 1860s. Pullman, born in 1831, was originally from Brocton.

“We are thrilled to celebrate with our partners and visitors the grand opening of the visitor center, which was restored and renovated in part through the generosity of the National Park Foundation and its donors,” said Pullman National Monument Superintendent Teri Gage. “As a partnership park, Pullman National Monument benefits from the thriving urban community we call home, including the many partners whose efforts over decades have made it possible to preserve and share this special place in Chicago and American history.”

The event schedule and updates are available on Pullman National Monument’s website at www.nps.gov/pull/index.htm. Additional event partners include Bielenberg Historic Pullman House Foundation, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Eugene V. Debs Foundation, Friends of Big Marsh, Gately Park, Greenstone United Methodist Church, House of Hope, Illinois Railway Museum, Mother Jones Heritage Project, National Park Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association, and Pullman National Monument Preservation Society.

The new Visitor Center will be located at the Historic Administration Clock Tower Building, 11001 S. Cottage Grove Ave, and will be managed by NPS. The NPS funded the new location, along with donors and combined with an NPS Centennial Challenge Grant. The Visitor Center will feature programs and exhibits, sharing key moments in American Labor History associated with Pullman’s company, such as the 1894 Pullman Strike and Boycott, as well as the 1937 African-American Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union winning the first successful contract with a major company. Visiting can give you a glimpse of almost a century of evolving workforce and rail equipment production, while also learning about the lasting design and architecture of the 1880 Town of Pullman, and how a community works to preserve an historic district.

The Administration Building that stood for 117 years as a Pullman Landmark was severely damaged in December 1998 due to a fire.

The State of Illinois worked on reconstructing the building in 2005 and transferred the building to the NPS in 2015 to then serve as the anchor for the new Pullman National Monument. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources owns and operates the 12-acre grounds, including the Front Erecting Shop North Wing, Front Erecting Shop South Wing Ruins, Front Erecting Shop, and the Hotel Florence – collectively known as the Pullman State Historic Site.

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