Chicago’s Pullman National Monument is a newly designated unit of the National Park Service. George Pullman was a railroad juggernaut who decided to build a company town for his employees. The idea was for his workers to have a “town” that provided them with a better standard of living and in turn he could retain those skilled workers. However, the town did not become quite the success Pullman had hoped for. The demand for railcars slowed and to make up for the loss of revenue Pullman lowered his workers wages, but kept the cost of living the same, inciting unrest within the community. The downfall of the Pullman legacy, company, and town was inevitable following a strike, a boycott, and riots.
Few buildings of the company town still remain, albeit some in a state of disrepair. The factory buildings have long suffered from neglect, a fire, and the elements. The Pullman Factory Administration Building, Greenstone Church, and Hotel Florence seem to have withstood the test of time, but were unavailable for touring. Luckily I visited on a Bio Blitz day and was allowed access to explore part of the grounds usually protected behind locked gates. I came across an adorable community garden. Members of the community can request (after going to a meeting) a raised bed and cultivate it to their liking! The Factory Administration Building and Greenstone Church stood tall and illustrated the architecture of the time. Hotel Florence is currently under renovations, but the outside of the building and the surrounding areas were nice to walk around and photograph. It was a beautiful day, everyone at the park was so kind, and I was able to take my time walking around. If you are in Chicago and have time to visit their only National Monument I would definitely recommend it.