Sen. Dick Durbin and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be among the dignitaries that will celebrate the designation of the Pullman National Historical Park on the city’s Far South Side Thursday morning.
Durbin, who cosponsored the “Pullman National Historical Park Act” along with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, will be joined by Lightfoot and US Rep. Robin Kelly, according to a press release.
The site is where the Pullman railcar company established not only its production operations, but also an entire planned community where workers lived around the plant.
The workers of the factory also played a pivotal role in the development of the organized labor movement in the United States during the late 19th century and early 20th century, and their efforts are commemorated at the site.
The Pullman site was originally designated an historic monument by former President Barack Obama in Feb. 2015.
After extensive renovations, the site was redesignated as a National Historical Park, which will encompass more of the areas immediately surrounding the site. Additional funds can also be allocated to purchase more property and to further develop the historic site, according to the National Park Service.
The new act allows the Secretary of the Interior’s office to acquire buildings, structures and land owned by the state or any other entity via donation, transfer or purchase for the purposes of preservation of the site around the Pullman factory.
The Pullman site includes the iconic clock tower building, which was the central hub of the factory complex. That site is visible from Amtrak and Metra passenger rail lines, and serves as the visitor’s center and a museum.
The neighborhood around the factory also features the Pullman Exhibit Hall, the A. Phlip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, and other historic sites.
The Pullman company created luxurious train cars in the late 19th century and into the 20th century, but it was best-known for the role that organized labor played in its development, and the impact that union had on the national labor movement in the United States .
The Pullman neighborhood was also the first planned industrial community in the United States, with workers offered housing near the factory.
Finally, the act cites the Pullman area’s “role in the rise of the African-American middle class,” which is celebrated throughout the historical site.
The Pullman National Historical Park does not charge admission fees for entry, but other museums around the site that are privately-held can charge admission, according to the NPS’ website.