The Pullman Era


The Pullman Luxury Rail Car

The first Pullman sleeping car. (CHS G1988.0426 Box 2, F.1; possibly Box 3, Folder: Railroad Cars | Exterior Views)

The first Pullman sleeping car. (CHS G1988.0426 Box 2, F.1)

To pursue his goal of improving the sleeping car, Pullman needed capital, so in 1860 he relocated to Colorado, where he ran a general store and an ore refinery. In 1863, he returned with heavier pockets to Chicago-the railway capital of the North-and began to put his ideas in motion. Pullman foresaw the growth of a rail-dominated economy and with it the growing wealth of the professional class.

The Pioneer, Pullman's first attempt at a luxury car, initially failed because it was too wide for railway platforms and bridges and the railroads refused to accommodate it. But after the Pullman car was included as part of President Lincoln's funeral train in May 1865, both Pullman and his car received national publicity and soon became famous for luxury train travel. In 1867, at the age of 36, Pullman established the Chicago-based Pullman Palace Car Company.

Pullman dining cars allowed for faster cross-country travel because they eliminated the need to stop for meals. (CHS G1982.225.14 Folder: Vehicles | railroad cars | railroad passenger cars | Illinois | Chicago | Pullman Palace Cars)

Pullman dining cars allowed for faster cross-country travel because they eliminated the need to stop for meals. (CHS G1982.225.14)

The luxuries of a Pullman Palace Car included freshly prepared gourmet meals, dining cars, chandeliers, electric lighting, table lamps with silk shades, leather seating, and advanced heating and air conditioning systems. As the railway network and cross-country travel increased, the desire of passengers to travel in one of these luxury cars grew too, just as Pullman had predicted.

Pullman Palace Cars featured plush upholstery, ample lighting, and ornately decorated interiors. (CHS G1988.0426 Box 3, F.3 Pullman Community Collection Folder: Railroad Cars | Interior Views)

Pullman Palace Cars featured plush upholstery, ample lighting, and ornately decorated interiors. (CHS G1988.0426 Box 3, F.3)

Al Capone
Black Sox
Century of Progress
Chicago Fire
World's Columbian Expo
Parades, Protest and Politics
The Pullman Era
Pullman Photos
Pullman Bibliography
The Stockyards
Fort Dearborn

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