Over the summer, just as I was scolding myself to explore more of my hometown of Chicago, I received the DePaul Magazine featuring an article called “Preserving Pullman.” Chicago has some incredible history, and the Pullman Historic District is no exception. It was once it’s own city, founded by George Pullman in the 1880’s. This revolutionary town, built for Pullman’s Palace Car Company, was the first American model industrial town.
I quickly checked the website for the Historic Pullman Foundation to find that they do “First Sunday Walking Tours” and marked my calendar for the first Sunday in October.
Now, as a girl who pretty much stays north of the Loop at all times, going to 11141 S. Cottage Grove Avenue was going to be an adventure! Especially when I missed a digit in my GPS and took side streets through a whole lot of ghetto before I got to Pullman. I knew I was in the right place when I saw busloads of old, white people armed with SLRs. What I didn’t know, was that Pullman had been recently added to the National Park System, as a National Monument. Pretty cool!
The tour starts with a short film about the history of Pullman neighborhood.
Next, we divided into two groups, each led by a volunteer resident from the area.
Our first stop was the Greenstone Church, one of the more striking buildings in the neighborhood. As the Pullman company owned everything in town, this building was created as a non-denominational space that various worship groups could rent out. It is now a United Methodist Church, with quite a lively sermon happening while we gawked outside!
We then moved down the block to Market Square. This unique market is situated in the middle of an intersection, surrounded by 4 buildings which contained apartment homes.
This is what’s left of the Market. We didn’t get the story of the “Go For It” sign, but the website suggests the city has allocated funds to renovate the square.
From here, we walked down a few streets, admiring the row houses like this:
Our tour ended at the Hotel Florence, which was once a thriving hotel, featuring a restaurant and the only bar in Pullman. Today, the Hotel is undergoing a major capital improvement program by the state to restore the Hotel for future use with the State Historic Site.
While I enjoyed this short, outdoor tour of Pullman, I think I will mark my calendar next year for the Annual Historic Pullman House Tour. “One weekend each year, Pullman residents open their homes to the public for the annual Historic Pullman House Tour. These 120-year-old landmark homes range from executive mansions to 14-foot wide worker’s cottages to multi-unit apartments, all with a charm and uniqueness that is part of the Pullman experience.”
For extensive history on the area, and information on how to visit, go to the Historic Pullman Foundation Website.