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Pullman, Chicago

Pullman is a neighborhood twelve miles South of the Loop in Chicago, by Lake Calumet.

Pullman was built in the 1880s by George Pullman for his eponymous railroad car company, the Pullman Palace Car Company. Pullman's architect, Solon S. Beman was said to be so proud of his creation that he asked George Pullman if the neighborhood could be named for himself. Pullman responded to the effect, "sure, we'll take the first half of my name, and the second half of yours."

In day when most workers lived in shabby tenements near their factories, Pullman seemed a dream, winning awards as "the world's most perfect town." Everything, from stores to townhouses, was owned by the Company. The design was pleasing, and all of the workers' needs were met within the neighborhood. The houses were comfortable by standards of the day, and contained such amenities as indoor plumbing, gas, and sewers.

Pullman's misfortune came during the Depression of the 1890s. When demand for Pullman cars slackened, the Pullman company laid off hundreds of workers, and cut hours for others. Despite these cutbacks, the Company did not reduce rents or prices in the stores. The Pullman Strike began in 1894, and lasted for a year.

George Pullman himself died in 1897. That year all non-manufacturing property - the houses, the stores - was sold off to the individual occupants.

Along with the whole South Side, the town of Pullman had been annexed to the City of Chicago in 1889. After the strike Pullman gradually became a regular Chicago neighborhood, just with distinguishing Victorian architecture. The fortunes of the neighborhood rose and fell with the Pullman Company.

The Pullman factory made its last car in the early 1970s. The neighborhood's decline that began in the 1960s continued, but that economic decline at least saved the district's architecture.

Today Pullman is slowly gentrifying. Tours are available.