Sunday, March 20, 2011

Trip 98: Pullman District

Date: March 20, 2011
Trip: 98
Landmarks Visited: 1
Landmarks To-Date: 271
Landmarks Remaining: 82

On Sunday morning my friend Nick and I headed south to the Pullman District. Nick is a professional photographer and likes to use architectural images in his work. I would say this has been my favorite landmark so far. Pullman was hugely important to the history of Chicago, for its economic impact, its affect on race relations in the city and beyond, and its impact on the labor movement. Plus the area is really living history. Most of the residential buildings that remain are still occupied. The southern portion of the district appears to be a thriving neighborhood. I don't know if any filming has ever been done in Pullman, but Nick and I both agreed that it would be a great location for a period piece. Or maybe the hotel building could be used in a horror film.

The area makes me think much more of the historic portions of Philadelphia or Boston than it does of the rest of Chicago. Most of the buildings were built with red brick where in other parts of Chicago stone facades are more common. Plus the area has sort of a town square, which is also uncommon elsewhere in the city. But the streets are wider than you would find on the East Coast.

The district also includes crumbling, abandoned buildings and buildings that have been partially preserved but have been boarded up and sealed off. Our trip got cut short by cold rain, or I would have taken even more photos. I think the Pullman District is under-appreciated by Chicagoans and tourist alike. This is probably due in part to the fact that it is so far from the Loop, and because the surrounding area has problems with crime and plight. But I definitely plan to go back...

Here's an interesting factoid that I learned while researching Pullman. Abraham Lincoln's son ran the company at some point after the death of the founder George Pullman.

Hotel Florence

The exterior of the hotel is well preserved. From a sign in the window the Bronzeville Historical Society gives tours, but it was closed while we were there. From what we could see through the windows, the interior looks to be fairly well preserved too.

Row Houses
The biggest portion of what remains from the originally industrial city is row houses. Those around the hotel seemed to be more luxurious than those farther away. I'm guessing that these were for executives and managers and the simpler homes were for laborers.

Greenstone United Methodist Church
As the name implies, this beautiful church is made of green stone.

This is part of the original factory complex. For this portion at least, the roof is gone and some of the walls are collapsing.

Clock Tower

This building with the clock tower was probably part of the factory complex as well. It looks as if it had been renovated and used fairly recently. But at least portions of the building have since been sealed off.

Livery Stables
This building is still in use as an auto repair shop. I thought it was interesting that the building was still in the transportation business after about 150 years. Notice the horse head on the facade.

Market Place
If I read the plague correctly at the site this building used to be a market. A person walking by told Nick that the neighborhood tried to raise money to restore the building, but this is as far as they got. The floor looks stable so maybe the building could be used for events during summer weather.
The market building is surrounded by four quarter-round buildings with columns that give a very Roman feel to the space in my opinion.

A professional photographer in action!


This mural is on the back on the contemporary visitors center building.

This is Nick helping to manufacture a Pullman car.


I'm guessing that this building was a firehouse because of the size of the door, and the tower that could have been used to dry fire houses. I especially like the design of the tower which looks Venetian to me.
The building is abandoned and looks to be in bad shape. What a fun renovation project this would be!

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