Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Pullman Palace Car Company, owned by George Pullman, manufactured railroad cars in the mid to late 1800s through the early decades of the 20th century, during the boom of railroads in the United States. Pullman developed the sleeping car which carried his name into the 1980s. They were especially known for building luxury sleeping cars which featured carpeting, draperies, upholstered chairs, libraries and card tables and an unparalleled level of customer service.
The company built a company town, Pullman, on 4,000 acres (16 kmē) just south of the city limits of Chicago in 1880. The town, entirely company-owned, provided housing, markets, a library, churches and entertainment for the 6,000 company employees and an equal number of dependents. One employee is quoted as saying "We are born in a Pullman house, fed from the Pullman shops, taught in the Pullman school, catechized in the Pullman Church, and when we die we shall go to the Pullman Hell". Alcohol was prohibited in the town, as George Pullman found it a disdainful habit for his workers; though it was available in the company's Florence Hotel, primarily for the benefit of the hotel guests, but was generally too expensive for laborers.
Once a household name due to their large market share, the Pullman Company is also known for the bitter Pullman Strike staged by their workers and union leaders in 1893. During a economic downturn, Pullman reduced hours and wages but not rents leading to the strike. Workers joined the American Railway Union, led by Eugene V. Debs.
In 1898, the Illinois Supreme Court required the company to sell off the town which was annexed into the city of Chicago. Today, Pullman is a City, State and National Landmark District with an integrated population that has a strong drive towards restoration of this unique district.
They are also remembered for the Pullman Porters, attendants of the sleeping cars. The Pullman Company hired African Americans for this position. While still a menial job in many respects, it offered better pay and security than most jobs open to African Americans at the time, in addition to a chance for travel, and was a well regarded job in the African-American community of the time. Pullman porters were unionized in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters under A. Philip Randolph.
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