National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis walked through the historic Pullman community today to learn more about the site being considered for National Park status.
Director Jarvis spent the morning with local residents and preservationists while visiting Pullman's many landmarks, including the Hotel Florence, the Greenstone Church, the market square, the factory and clock tower, and a museum dedicated to the Pullman Porters.
It was Jarvis' first visit to the South Side neighborhood founded by industrialist George Pullman in 1880 and which was world-famous for manufacturing the Pullman Palace Sleeper Car, the most luxurious railcar for nearly a century.
The Pullman community offers a wealth of unique American history -- and that history has caught the attention of the National Park Service (NPS). Among its many storylines Pullman is the birthplace of the world's first African-American union, the Brotherhood of Pullman Porters. It's the site of the first major labor strike in the nation. And, its remarkably preserved circa-1880s architecture has become a favorite for Hollywood movie sets.
A longtime promoter of the Pullman story, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. in January announced that he would seek to designate the historic neighborhood as a national park before the National Park Service's 100th anniversary in 2016. It would be Illinois' second national park, joining Abraham Lincoln's homestead in Springfield.
Jackson's bill calling for the feasibility study was the subject of a congressional hearing last week, when the National Park Service and others testified in support of the measure.
As part of his push for a park, Jackson had invited NPS Director Jarvis to tour the site and meet with community, city, state and national leaders to appreciate the rich heritage that is the Pullman community.
"Pullman is part of the American story and it would make a fantastic national park. The National Park Service wants to expand into urban areas and become more accessible to traditionally underserved Americans. Pullman would be ideal for that," Jackson said. "I'm delighted to see so much enthusiasm building around the concept of a Pullman National Park."