Entrepreneur George Pullman made a fortune building and operating sleeping cars and other railroad equipment. He had very exacting standards and the name “Pullman” was synonymous with luxury.
Just as he expected high quality in his products and their operation, Pullman’s “model town” was an attempt to carry that same standard to his factory and workforce. Attractive and well-built homes, a school, a church, a library, and a marketplace all reflected George Pullman’s ideals of orderliness, cleanliness, and luxuriousness. However, one critical element was missing – democracy. The town and factory were ruled by the Pullman company and its officers. When workers rose up for a voice in 1894, a national railroad shut-down resulted. Pullman’s reputation suffered as he opposed his workforce.
Co-sponsored by the Illinois Labor History Society and the Historic Pullman Foundation, this tour explores the relationships between George Pullman, his company town, and the men and women who worked at his factory. We will again bring to life a period of conflict and struggle that reflects many contemporary issues – Pullman is where America’s story lives.
Guided tours are available to the public from June through September. Tours depart the Exhibit hall at 1:30 p.m., last about 90 minutes, and cover a walking distance of about a mile.
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