The Pullman National Monument, located in, Illinois, was founded by George Pullman, a visionary man who envisioned a utopian town or a planned community for the workers of his company. A community that offered better working-class living conditions and promised a safer, healthier, and more attractive way of life.
This town of Pullman was the first conceptualization of the “planned” urban-living lifestyle that became so popular in the 20th century. The Pullman Company constructed and engineered this beautiful community with urban architecture and design that was a haven to all those who lived here.
Pullman National Monument is also dedicated to the actions of George Pullman who was the first American man to hire members of the African American community for jobs such as porters, waiters, and maids. Slavery at the time was common practice. The thought of an African American man or woman having a job that paid fair wages was beyond the realm of imagination for most African Americans. George Pullman’s actions greatly helped in the civil rights movement of the 20th century that helped abolish slavery.
The Pullman Community was also the birthplace of the first all African-American Union called the Brotherhood Of Sleeping Car Porters and today, this national monument is an example of how urban national parks can help revitalize and reestablish old and historic neighborhoods that were instrumental parts of American history.
When driving to Pullman National Mounument you can choose between three routes depending on where you are coming from. If driving from downtown Chicago the fastest route is via the I-94 East (south). The I-94 or the Dan Ryan and Bishop Ford expressway will split after 95th street. Just stay on the left lane and take Exit 66A on 111st street to Cottage Grove Avenue. Turn left on Cottage Grove and continue driving south for a block to 112th street. Turn left here to arrive at the visitor center.
An alternative route to Pullman National Monument includes the picturesque Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island Avenue route that offers more to see of this beautiful city.
Since Pullman National Monument is essentially a vibrant neighborhood, there are no camping opportunities available for RV or tent campers within the monument. Head 40 minutes east to Indiana Dunes State Park. Here you'll find 147 campsites in total and 134 of them have electric hookups.
The campsites here can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 55 feet in length. There are restrooms, a playground, and many picnic areas. There is beach access within the campground so it will be easy to pass the time here swimming, beach combing, and just generally relaxing.
Pullman National Monument brings many admirers to visit its truly unique and iconic architecture and indulge in the stories that made this little community such an important part of American history.
Iconic buildings like the main Administration building, Factory Complex, Hotel Florence, and Greenstone Church still remain intact and have aged gracefully over the years. Many of the original brick row houses also remain. This urban architecture was truly revolutionary at the time and amazing to look at today.
Pullman National Monument has a large visitor center that has many displays and even a movie theater that take you back in time. It's easy to get lost in history and recounting of the many achievements of George Pullman.
The visitor center is like a small museum and offers plenty of information and friendly park rangers that are always eager to educate. The visitor center is also the ideal starting point for your tour of the landmark Pullman District.
Pullman National Monument isn’t just a museum or garden but rather an active and charming neighborhood that takes you back in time. Collect the Walking Tour Brochure from the visitor center and then set out exploring this vast landmark and the neighborhood's many sights and sounds.
Roam freely in this truly amazing community town marveling at the unique urban architecture and the deep historical significance of this place. Bring your pets with you to jog in the large park that is a center for activity and a great picnic spot.
Every year, in the month of October, Pullman National Monument hosts the historic Pullman House Tour where the residents of this vibrant community open up their homes for viewing to the general public. These homes range from mansions, worker cottages, and multi-unit apartments each offering its own distinct architecture and charm.
The interiors and exteriors of these homes are truly things of beauty and if you are in Chicago or even Illinois at the time the tour takes place, it is a definite must.
One of the centerpiece buildings of this beautiful neighborhood, Hotel Florence, was named after George Pullman’s daughter and was built in 1881. It was sold in 1991 to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency who is responsible for restoring and maintaining this beautiful, historic structure.
Luckily for tourists, the hotel can be viewed from the exterior as well as the interior. It is open for tours to both individuals and groups. Make sure you stop by on your visit to the Pullman National Monument.
Pullman hosts ‘The Candlelight Walk’ during the month of December, which is a special once a year opportunity that allows visitors to have a look inside select privately owned historic homes that have been decorated for the festive holiday season.
The tour includes an hors d'oeuvres and dessert buffet before taking visitors on a walk to the select homes chosen to be a part of that year's tour. A silent auction is also ahead towards the end of the tour. Advance reservations are required to be a part of this prestigious event.