Visitor center at Chicago’s first national monument opens

Former President Barack Obama designated the factory and surrounding area a national monument in 2015

Years in the making, the visitor center and state historic site grounds at the Pullman National Monument have officially opened to the public.

Chicago’s first national monument marks the site where Pullman passenger railroad cars were built; Employees lived nearby in the neighborhood on the city’s South Side Side. The sprawling Pullman company factory closed in 1982.

The National Park Services’ visitor center features exhibits on worker demonstrations that helped plant the seeds of the modern labor movement. For instance, Black railroad workers won a significant labor agreement in the 1930s that helped lead to worker protections.

Robert Bushwaller, a Historic Pullman Foundation board member, was encouraged by the crowd on Saturday. Some drove vintage cars to mark the opening day during the Labor Day weekend.

“The public support has been better than expected,” Bushwaller told the Chicago Sun-Times. “The turnout is tremendous. They remember so much from how it used to be and want to see if it still tasted that way, and they’ve been satisfied.”

CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 19: President Barack Obama speaks to guests at the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy on February 19, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama used the event to designate Chicago’s historic Pullman district a national monument. Dating back to the 1880s, the Pullman district, on the city’s Far South Side, is one of the country’s first company towns. The “town” was founded by George Pullman to house workers at his now-defunct Pullman Palace Car Co., which made luxurious rail cars. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama designated the factory and surrounding area a national monument in 2015. Restoration and revitalization at the site has been ongoing for years.

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