The Pullman neighborhood on the city's far South Side is one of those uniquely Chicago neighborhoods. It's the nation's first industrial planned community, it's an area that helped breathe life into the American labor movement, and an area that helped usher in the era of civil rights. The community's history is so rich — both in architecture and cultural aspects — that President Barack Obama officially declared the neighborhood's historic district as a U.S. National Monument. Of all of the architectural and cultural contributions that Chicago has delivered to the world, the Pullman District is what ultimately became the city's first national monument. There's even a push to transform Pullman's momentum into a full-blown national park campus. The neighborhood had a banner year in 2015, not only for its newfound national monument status, but also for seeing a continuation of its industrial legacy with the opening of Method's new LEED Platinum factory. In addition, Curbed readers voted Pullman as Chicago's neighborhood of the year for 2015. We recently reached out to Michael Shymanski, a longtime Pullman resident and president of the Historic Pullman Foundation, to learn more about the neighborhood.
Tell us something we don't already know about Pullman.
The local people have been working to get Pullman officially recognized as a nationally and internationally significant place for nearly sixty years, and it finally happened in 2015.
You've been working with the neighborhood for many years now, why was 2015 such an important year for Pullman?
To name a few:
- President Obama came here to formally acknowledge that this place played an import role in America's history. It also has a great future.
- The designation of the Pullman National Monument. International acknowledgement of becoming a unit of the National Park System. We are in the National Park Service - Pullman National Monument District.
- The start of production at Method.
The start of production at Gotham Greens
- Publishing of Positioning Pullman
- Pullman Elementary School became a Level 1 School and Poe is a Level I plus.
- Plans for a 7th and 8th grade academy at Brooks
- Plans for Pullman Artspace Lofts
- Additional funding for the rehabilitation of houses in the 107th blocks
- Pullman Café opened and Argus Brewery expanded their tours.
The area is known for its historic row houses and buildings related to the Pullman Palace Car Company, but what are a couple other hidden gems that others should know about?
Some key places to see are the Thomas Dunbar House, the interior and organ of the Greenstone Church, Brooks College Prep historic center building (Pullman Tech), the interior of the G. M. Pullman School, the Harborside Club House and the Poe Elementary School.
Speaking of cars... Do you need one to get around?
Not necessarily for daily activities. There is good transit via CTA, Metra and increasing bike lanes. Pullman also has retail within walking distance. You can catch Metra express trains that get to the Loop in 22 minutes, or to the Hyde Park in 12 minutes.
Tell us a little bit about the neighborhood makeup.
The neighborhood is economically, socially, and racially diverse. Some families have lived in Pullman for three and four generations. People like to know their neighbors. In addition to the formal organization, there are many special interest groups like garden club, book club, wine club, Sunday brunch, etc. Residents include policemen, firemen, architects, teachers, lawyers, PhDs., artists, along with retirees, people getting by on social security, and people working in manufacturing jobs and the trades.
What's the best nearby park space?
Arcade Park and Pullman Park are in the neighborhood. Palmer Park is just two blocks to the west and has new facilities in historic buildings. Gately Park it to the north and the Pullman Community Center is currently under construction. It will have indoor soccer, baseball, a multi-purpose court and field facilities. There's also Harborside International Golf Course (a public course) to the east. The neighborhood's system of bike lanes and paths is expanding and will connect to nearby forest preserves and regional bike paths.
What's maybe not-so-swell about Pullman?
This varies with individual people. North Siders have a problem with it being on the South Side. We could use more eating and drinking establishments for residents and visitors.
If someone is interested in learning more about possibly buying in Pullman, where's a good place for them to start?
If you are interested in living in Pullman, you should attend some of the activities in Pullman to get to know the people, as they will be your neighbors. Walk around and read the signs. Some people will rent for a year, get to know the place and seek out the best place. Start with the Historic Pullman Visitor Center a.k.a. Pullman National Monument Visitor Information Center. Attend the 43rd Annual Pullman House Tour on the second weekend in October. Some resources to check out include the Pullman Civic Organization, the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), the Historic Pullman Foundation Tours, the Historic Pullman Garden Club, the Pullman State Historic Site, National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum and Pullman Arts.
·And Now, Your Curbed Cup Neighborhood of the Year: Pullman [Curbed Chicago]
·Imagining a Future Pullman National Park Campus [Curbed Chicago]
·All previous Pullman coverage [Curbed Chicago]