Top 10 Things To See And Do In Pullman, Chicago

A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum | © Alanscottwalker/WikiCommons
A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum | © Alanscottwalker/WikiCommons
Photo of Karla Sullivan
9 February 2017

The first planned industrial community for workers to work, live and worship was the Pullman Historic District south of Chicago, a unique community established by George Pullman, founder of the Pullman Palace Car Company. Designated a national monument; we list things to see and do while you’re in the neighborhood.

Historic Pullman Foundation Visitor Center

On the site of the Arcade Building, the Historic Pullman Foundation is a great place to begin your tour of Pullman. The visitor center provides a video of the history and exhibits that include antiques from the Pullman Mansion, which was located on Prairie Avenue, as well as historic rail service items.

Historic Pullman Foundation, 11141 S Cottage Grove Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 785 8901

Hotel Florence

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Hotel Florence
Hotel Florence | © Richie Diesterheft/Flickr
Known for its luxury and elegance, the Hotel Florence, named after George Pullman’s daughter, was opened in 1881. A veranda extends around the front of the building. When it opened, the hotel included a gentlemen’s reading room, a billiard room, lunch room and saloon. The hotel is now part of the Pullman State Historic Site.

Executive Row

Take a stroll on 111th Street between St. Lawrence and Langley to view the executive homes that were located near the Pullman company plant. This row of homes was a showplace back in the day, consisting of eight and nine rooms including several fireplaces and a basement in each. If you plan ahead of time, it’s possible to set up a tour of the Thomas Dunbar house to see one of these historic homes up close.

Thomas Dunbar House, 641 E 111th St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 785 8901

Pullman and Arcade Parks

George Pullman hired architect Solon S. Berman to create Pullman Park for recreation and to allow workers to enjoy a green space not interrupted by plant structures. Another park in the Pullman community is Arcade Park, which was also donated by George Pullman.

Pullman Factory Complex

Beside the administration building and clock tower, the factory building provided wonderful conditions for the working man. They were well lit, ventilated, and featured soft colors to provide an upbeat atmosphere, which was different from so many sweatshops of the era. The Clock Tower and building was seriously damaged in 1998 by fire but was rebuilt in 2005 as part of the Illinois Pullman State Historic Site.

Pullman Administration Building and Clock Tower, 11057 S Cottage Grove Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 785 8901

Greenstone Church

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Greenstone church
Greenstone church | © Peter Fitzgerald/WikiCommons
This sanctuary is unchanged, being built in cherry wood with the original pews. The first tenants, in 1887, of the Greenstone Church were Presbyterian, but the church was sold to the Methodists in 1907. The distinguished Steere and Turner organ is one of the very few manual track organs remaining in the US; the organ has had little repair over the last 100 years with the exception of being powered originally by hand bellows. The organ contains 1,260 pipes with two manuals for the hands, and while it can be a physical challenge to play, it is a treasure for experienced musicians and listeners alike.

Gateway Garden

On the corner of 111th and Langley, lies the Gateway Garden, which came into being after the Historic Pullman Garden Club received a grant from the Chicago Botanic Garden for development. Trees and spring bulbs were planted, and now the garden offers spectacular color of various annuals, perennials and breathtaking curved seats of shrubbery, creating a peaceful place to observe such beauty.

Gateway Garden, E 111th St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 568 2441

National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum

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The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum hosts various special events celebrating black history and the importance of A. Philip Randolph and the Pullman Porters who made a real impact in African-American union history. In 1937, they established the nation’s first black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, with Randolph as president.

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