Chicago is destined to become a major tourist destination soon. It will be home to a Presidential Library and is already home to a dynamic National Monument that Obama made happen. Ruth & I visited it on a recent trip that included Chicago.
The Presidential Library honoring our 44th President will be in Jackson Park. Barak and Michelle Obama selected this park on Chicago’s south side so that the Library would be near the University of Chicago where he taught constitutional law before becoming President. In 2015, when he was President, Barak Obama issued a proclamation that established the Pullman National Monument. It opened in September, 2021. The official date of the Presidential Library’s opening has yet to be announced, but its groundbreaking occurred during that same month in 2021. Its opening has been delayed by discord over its using a public park and unknowns about its eventual impact on the area.
Pullman had less difficulty. He located his plant to build luxury sleeping cars a few miles south of Jackson Park. He leased those cars that he built to railroads and established a planned community near his plant to provide housing for about $4 per room to those who would provide on-board services. Pullman died in 1897. Shortly thereafter, most of the employees living quarters he had built were privately owned, and residents were not required to work at Pullman. The entire community was eventually absorbed into the city of Chicago. For several years it had been a model community with playgrounds, parks, a railroad depot, stores, a hotel, and churches with several levels of accommodation from executive housing down to affordable 3 room apartments. The National Monument that now exists shows what is left of this experiment in controlled living.
A Depression in 1893 caused a decrease in orders for railroad cars and labor unrest. Today the administration building survives as do many of the buildings in this planned community. Many are now privately owned and visitors are discouraged from trying to contact residents many of whom are of different ages, races, and occupations. They are instead encouraged to look at the displays, take tours, and access programs about this experiment in organized living in a planned community.