Chicago Tribune: President Obama should name Pullman a national park to jumpstart economic development

The Chicago Tribune editorializes that economic development in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood would get a huge boost from being designated as a national park:

Pullman needs swift, decisive action via executive order to jump-start economic development. Damaged by the death of manufacturing, Chicago’s Southeast Side and Pullman need exactly this type of federal nudge. The local residents can’t do it. The city can’t do it. The state can’t do it. You can do it.

The dainty row houses of Pullman remain a testament to the one-of-a-kind development George Pullman brought to Chicago. From the wisps of a prairie, he built and then owned one of the country’s first factory towns. The workers who built his upscale passenger rail cars lived in housing on the property. Most of that housing remains in its original dollhouse state.

Designating Pullman a national park would make the Pullman campus a tourist and train enthusiasts’ destination and spur entrepreneurs to open businesses in the surrounding area.

Mr. President, show us another neighborhood like Pullman. Show us another community with its rich history — the site of a major labor strike and the birthplace of the first recognized black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

If you won’t award it national park status, then show us another way to save Pullman. Tell us you plan to build your presidential library there, one of many locations courting you.

This is an interesting appeal for economic development: only making a historic site within a downtrodden urban neighborhood a national park can help. Tourism and history can be big business today. Additionally, this park would be close to the 9 million plus people in the Chicago metropolitan region who don’t have many other nearby choices in national parks.

Still, it strikes me as a bit of an odd appeal. A national park should be designated as such because of the site’s merit or because of the surrounding neighborhood which needs some help?

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