In 1880 industrialist George Pullman set out to build a capitalist utopia. The town of Pullman was established just outside of Chicago as a model community--a place that was supposed to produce both happy workers and a nice return for Pullman's investors. It turned out to be a miserable failure. And conditions in the town were so terrible that it was the catalyst for one of America's most famous strikes: the Pullman Strike of 1894.
Consider the larger narrative of calamities that have befallen the Windy City, such as the 1954 killer water surge that swept in on a calm summer day, the 1967 tornado that ripped through rush hour traffic, the 1886 Haymarket Square riot that put Chicago on the anarchist map and many other acts of nature and human folly.
photograph shows a group of fourteen Pullman Porters posed in front of the Pullman clocktower, which still stands just to the south of today's A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum (Chicago History Museum, ICHi-22611). See also the entry for the BSCP Chicago Division Headquarters at 4321 South Michigan Avenue .
The Pullman StrikeIn 1894 approximately 3,000 workers at Illinois’ Pullman Palace Car Company initiated a wildcat strike in protest of recent wage cuts. Violence erupted, strikers were killed, and Cleveland received very negative press for his decision. In an effort to appease American workers, he signed a bill in 1894 declaring Labor Day a national holiday.