Monday, November 9, 2009

George Pullman

George Pullman began his entry into Chicago's social life in 1855.  It was during this time that he used his construction experience to use jacks to raise city buildings out of the mud.  While raising buildings as an occupation, he began constructing the idea of a new railroad car.  In 1864 he completed his work on a new, elaborate, comfortable sleeping car.  He still needed to find a way to market his invention, and in the wake of tragedy, he did.  He offered his luxury car to bring Abraham Lincoln's body back to Illinois.  This gave him the popularity and income he needed to form The Pullman Palace Car Company in 1867.  His company thrived for 10 more years until the Great Railroad Strike took hold.  His rememdy, he would build a town especially for his workers to maintain happiness.  He bought 3,000 acres near Calumet Lake.  In 1879 construction began on the town of Pullman.  By the mid 1880s, the town had expanded to contain the new factory and 1,800 buildings.  All was good for quite some time, until Pullman's greed led the town to take a turn for the worst.  In 1893, he fired thousands of workers, and those who he kept had to take a 25% wage cut, while still paying the same rents as always.  This led to the workers instituting a strike in 1894.  Widespread violence was prevalent until he was finally able to crush the strike with government help.  Pullman died in 1897, more of a villain in the public eye.  Over the next ten years courts ordered the sale of Pullman to its residents.

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