Chicago to get its first national monument: Pullman Park district

George Pullman’s factory town on Chicago’s south side is to be named a national monument next week:

President Obama will designate Chicago’s Pullman Park district, an iconic site in African American and labor history, as a national monument next week, according to White House officials.

The area, which includes nearly 90?percent of the original buildings that rail car magnate George Pullman built a century ago for his factory town, was the birthplace of the nation’s first African American labor union. The president will travel to Chicago Feb. 19 to make the designation in person, said White House spokesman Frank Benenati in an e-mail…

“The people who are part of the Pullman legacy helped to shape America as we know it today,” Lynn McClure, Midwest senior director for the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement. “Pullman workers fought for fair labor conditions in the late 19th century and the Pullman porters helped advance America’s civil rights movement… Thanks to the president, Pullman’s story will soon be remembered and recounted for the millions of people that visit America’s national parks each year.”…

Chicago is one of the only major cities in the U.S. that does not have a national park.

Status-anxious Chicago now gets a national park and at least one symbol that its history is important. Some of the earlier discussion about this possible monument had to do with development opportunities; now that there may be a steady stream of visitors to the site, how can it help promote economic development? I’m not sure what I would imagine growing up around such a site; souvenir shops? Restaurants to help feed visitors?

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