As we recount the passing days of winter and embark upon a new season of “What’s new?” it’s time to look forward to that changeling of seasons known as spring. Winter tapers off and we begin to relax as our wardrobe evolves from protective clothing to a more welcoming style. (No real Chicagoan is concerned about style during the cold months when comfort and warmth is the goal!)
I invite you to walk in the footsteps of your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends — and your youth. This is the perfect time of year to come visit the Pullman National Monument which is not only part of the National Park Service, but a part of the history of so many families that grew up in this area: everywhere from Pullman to Roseland to Kensington to nearby neighborhoods.
With the seasons in the midst of their annual changes, we are afforded a visual delight. Thanks to the leafless trees at this point in the year, the many splendors of this extremely well-planned community is evident through the barren branches. A beautiful array of architecture in the Queen Anne style of Solon S. Beman and the craftsmanship of landscape designer Nathaniel F. Barrett are on display in their totality.
Given full rein by George M. Pullman, only 20 years his senior, the 27-year-old Beman was initially given minimal instructions for the Town of Pullman. Due to ongoing consultation and modifications during the project, Mssrs. Beman and Barrett achieved the project goals and received congratulations for a job well done from Mr. Pullman.
Many folks we know have had dealings in Pullman throughout the years. Whether we are talking about places those people have worked at throughout the years, or where they have lived, many stories concern the town of Pullman. I can attest to a number of friends, family members and fellow parishioners at St. Anthony of Padua have all been employed at the Pullman Shops.
Among the requests made of S.S. Beman, Pullman stated that the Hotel Florence would have the only bar in town and must be elegant in appearance for use by the clients of the hotel. For many years, the Hotel Florence hosted Sunday brunches and rented out space as an official wedding reception venue.
The bar was always in operation throughout the years, even when there were numerous other bars in Pullman, and all of these bars had a steady flow of clients, but not one of these bars could compete with the beauty of the original bar in the Hotel Florence.
Market Hall was built as the local commercial center for the town of Pullman where space was rented to merchants who sold their goods and services to the residents of Pullman and the Pullman Shops employees. To be sure, there were other stores scattered throughout the neighborhood and these stores were owned by residents who lived beside their customers. Some of the stores and bars I’ve heard of in Pullman are Bob’s Sugar Bowl, the Step In, Barney’s, Stanley J’s, Landmark Inn, Lucky Lady, Chuck’s Place, Fattori’s Foods, Covolo’s Grocers and the Athenian.
Speaking of Market Hall, with the coming of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, George Pullman had the four corners built with numerous rooms overlooking the Market Hall Square. These rooms provided accommodation for visitor’s to the World’s Fair who wished to make their Chicago visit more memorable by staying in a room in “the world’s most perfect town.”
Today, walking through the remnants of the Market Hall Squarem you need only look up to see the numerous windows that denoted a single sleeping room for World’s Fair visitors. For a contemporary take on the Market Hall Square, one only needs to read “The Polar Express” to find that the North Pole is modeled on Pullman’s own Market Hall.
All of the above places of business were frequented at one time or another by residents, family, friends, workers that had anything to do with Pullman. They all traversed the streets of Pullman whether on foot or by car, streetcar, or bus and, going further back, perhaps even on horseback.
The Pullman School is not only still in use, but has achieved superior standing as a Premier Level 1+ school. Anyone who grew up in Pullman attended this grade school. Many of the students remained in the neighborhood throughout their high school years and have many stories of their adventures — both good and bad.
To walk in their footsteps, to enjoy the beauty that is historically Pullman, to dreamily stroll among the trees that were planted as saplings, to view the houses as George M. Pullman did as he inspected his namesake town on a walking tour with Solon S. Beman and Nathaniel F. Barrett — make it a point to come visit the Pullman National Monument this apring and then again under the leafy summertime arches created by nature, giving you another view of our beloved town of Pullman and once again walk in the footsteps of your past.
Contact me at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756; or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit Roseland Roundtable on Facebook.