Pullman National Historical Park Act
STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS, CONCERNING H.R. 2626, A BILL TO REDESIGNATE THE PULLMAN NATIONAL MONUMENT IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS AS THE PULLMAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
APRIL 21, 2021
Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior's views on H.R. 2626, a bill to redesignate the Pullman National Monument in the State of Illinois as the Pullman National Historical Park, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 2626 with amendments described later in this statement. We believe that the designation of “national historical park” is an appropriate designation for this unit of the National Park System.
H.R. 2626 would redesignate Pullman National Monument in Chicago, Illinois, as Pullman National Historical Park as well as provide a statutory basis for this unit. In the National Park Service’s (NPS) standard nomenclature, the term “national historical park” denotes a unit containing multiple historic resources, as is the case with the Pullman National Monument. The bill also provides for some specific management and cooperative agreement authorities that would be new to the unit.
Pullman National Monument was established in 2015 by Presidential Proclamation 9233 to preserve and interpret resources that are part of the Pullman Historic District. These resources reflect the industrial and labor history associated with the Pullman Company, including the rise and role of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the history of urban planning and design, of which the planned company town of Pullman is a nationally significant example.
The Pullman Historic District typifies many of the economic, social, and design currents running through American life in the late 19th and early 20th century. Industrialist George Mortimer Pullman built the model town to house workers at his luxury rail car factories. Although his goal was to cure the social ills of the day, the tight control he exercised over his workers helped spark one of the nation’s most widespread and consequential labor strikes. The remaining structures of the Pullman Palace Car Company, workers’ housing, and community buildings that make up the Pullman Historic District are a testament to the evolution of American industry, the rise of unions and the labor movement, the lasting strength of urban design, and the remarkable journey of the Pullman porters toward the civil rights movement of the 20th century.
The boundaries of Pullman National Monument, which encompass approximately 203 acres, include about two-thirds of the Pullman Historic District. Currently, the NPS owns and manages only the historic Administration Clock Tower Building, which served as the hub of the former Pullman factory. Within the monument boundary is the Pullman State Historic Site, owned and operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which includes the grounds around the Administration Clock Tower Building, the North Factory Wing, the Rear Erecting Shop, and the four-story Hotel Florence. Other governmental and private organizations also contribute to the preservation and interpretation of the Pullman neighborhood’s history. The NPS coordinates closely with these entities to ensure that the history of this area is preserved and made available to the public.
While the Department supports the redesignation of the Pullman National Monument as a national historical park, we recommend that H.R. 2626 be amended to reflect work already underway relating to the National Monument pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 9233. We also recommend that the language for cooperative agreements be revised to conform with the usual language used in legislation for units of the National Park System. We would be happy to work with the sponsor and the Committee on proposed amendment language.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide this statement for the record.