The Pullman Era


Creating the Company Town

The Pullman model worked to some degree because the company maintained absolute control and ownership of everything in town, just as it did with Pullman cars and on-board services. But that monopoly became its greatest criticism: the model town built to handle the "labor problem" in a democratic America was run like an Old World aristocracy. Except for the post office, there were no city government offices present; a town agent managed Pullman and its activities. Pullman chose which stores could establish in his town, which books the library could offer, and which performances could appear in the theater. He assumed that his residents would be satisfied with one church and a form of worship chosen by Pullman himself: the Greenstone Church. Pullman did not allow residents to own their homes. Subsequently, some workers moved out of Pullman and bought residences in nearby communities such as Roseland and Gano.

The Pullman Methodist Curch (formerly Greenstone Church). (CHS G1988.0426 Box 1, F.4 Pullman Community Collection Folder: Churches)

The Pullman Methodist Church (formerly Greenstone Church). (CHS G1988.0426 Box 1, F.4)

Many Pullman residents resented the town's virtual prohibition of alcohol. The Florence Hotel housed the sole tavern, which only served the town's visitors-not the town's residents. Pullman's alcohol policy insulted his workers and made buying alcohol inconvenient: residents had to walk a short way to the next town for a pint in one of its many taverns. Pullman hired company spies or "spotters" to watch for and report any resident who behaved contrary to his policies. Upon first glance, George Pullman seemed to have provided ideal living conditions, but for those living in the town, he failed to provide even the most basic human rights.

The Arcade building included the Pullman Public Library, but few residents used it because of the high membership fee of 25 cents per month. (CHS ICHi-01890)

The Arcade building included the Pullman Public Library, but few residents used it because of the high membership fee of 25 cents per month. (CHS ICHi-01890)

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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