STATEMENT OF VICTOR KNOX, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PARK PLANNING,
FACILITIES AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE
INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS
AND PUBLIC LANDS, COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES, HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, CONCERNING H.R. 3894, TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY
OF THE INTERIOR TO CONDUCT A SPECIAL RESOURCE STUDY OF THE
PULLMAN HISTORIC SITE IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, AND FOR OTHER
June 8, 2012
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee to present the Department of the Interior's views on H.R. 3894, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the Pullman Historic Site in Chicago, Illinois, and for other purposes.
The Department supports enactment of this legislation. However, we feel that priority should be given to the 36 previously authorized studies for potential units of the National Park System, potential new national heritage areas, and potential additions to the National Trails System and National Wild and Scenic Rivers System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.
The Pullman Historic District is approximately 300 acres in size and is bounded on the east by Lake Calumet, and on the west by the Illinois Central Railroad. The district is divided into three sections: one containing the industrial remnants of the Pullman Palace Car Company, another containing a mix of late 19th and early 20th Century residential development, and the third containing major community facilities, such as a church, a hotel, a large arcade, and a public square.
Constructed between 1880-1884 for George M. Pullman, an engineer and industrialist, Pullman was a planned, model industrial town that represented a dramatic departure from the unhealthy, over-crowded, makeshift and unsanitary living conditions found in working-class districts in other 19th Century industrial cities. In 1894, it was the focus of a bloody and violent strike by the American Railway Union, which spread nationwide over the railroad networks, prompting President Grover Cleveland to intervene with Federal troops. This resulted in the first use of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act against the unions.
In 1937, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), the all-black labor union led by A. Philip Randolph, reached a historic agreement with the Pullman Company that became, according to union stalwart C. L. Dellums, "the first economic agreement that was ever signed in this country by Negroes with a white institution." He described it as, "a great inspirational thing to the entire race." This 1937 agreement was of great national significance as it was one of the most important markers since Reconstruction of African-American advancement, and conveyed that sites of union accomplishments were also places that marked the expansion of freedom and democracy for all citizens.
On May 24, 2012, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Mark Kirk, sent a letter to the National Park Service (NPS) requesting a reconnaissance survey of the Pullman Historic Site. The NPS plans to initiate this study in the near future. The reconnaissance survey will provide preliminary information about the national significance, suitability and feasibility of the site, but a full special resource study is needed to provide sufficient information to make a determination regarding the appropriateness of authorizing the site as a unit of the National Park System.
Any examination of the site by the NPS would rely upon the information documented by the National Historic Landmark designation bestowed on it in 1970 by the Secretary of the Interior. It would also rely on the findings contained within the Labor History Theme Study completed by the NPS in 2003. That study identified key nationwide sites that commemorate the history of American laborers and their activities, the impact of industrial and technological change on the nation, and the contributions of workers to the country's development.
Conducting a special resource study would provide a public process to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating the historic site as a unit of the National Park System. The NPS would be pleased to actively engage organizations, residents and others in discussions of how best to preserve Pullman's significant cultural and historic resources.
This concludes my prepared remarks, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to answer any questions you or any other members of the Subcommittees may have regarding this bill.