Pullman Economic Development Plan – A Boost for National Park Designation Effort

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A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum's president applauds the city of Chicago's Economic Development Plan for Pullman, which incorporates the Arts as a violence prevention strategy.

Statue bearing the image of A. Philip Randolph, Milton P.Webster and Pullman Porters

Exterior Statue at the A Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Musem

The city of Chicago's plan to revitalize the Pullman community is being applauded by the A Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum (APRPM) because of the economic impact it will have on the area and because it provides the added push needed to make Pullman a National Park Service (NPS) site. Citing specifics, David A. Peterson Jr. museum president since 2011, brings with him his own vision of the museum's role in Pullman, praised Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Pat Quinn and Alderman Anthony Beale for their vision and for collaborating to bring the plan to life.

Peterson added that the Pullman Park initiative can only enhance the National Park Service's (NPS) interest in making Pullman a NPS site. He indicated that the area under consideration is the National Historic Register district, whose boundaries were set by the U.S Department of Interior December 30, 1970 as 103rd to 115th, from the Illinois Central ("IC") to the Bishop Ford Expressway.

The NPS study now underway according to Dr. Jon Jarvis, its director, "is a result of the strong interest in, not just the labor story, but specifically Black labor history" which includes A. Philip Randolph, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, more commonly known as Pullman Porters.

Dr. Lyn Hughes, the museum's founder, says. "I founded the museum in Pullman in 1995 after attending a tour offered on the south end. No mention was made of the role Blacks played in the Pullman story. Although the north end was in a deteriorated state, I believed then that the umbrella of tourism through Arts and Culture could stimulate economic conditions in the community. Now 18 years later the opportunity is here. To my knowledge, this plan represents the first time that this type of opportunity has ever come to the area; and presents an opportunity for inclusion.

“Pockets of this historic area have been neglected for decades,” she notes. I believe that, despite the exclusionary tactics—that are skillfully disguised and strategically orchestrated within the historic district, this plan–combined with a NPS designation – holds tremendous promise. If implemented properly, it would be impossible for the entire community not to benefit. The plan has the potential to revitalize the entire area.” The multi-dimensional plan includes bringing cultural activities to the area, and could help to curb violence and support the APRPPM'S “Museum 44" Where Hip Hop Meets History program. Named in honor of the 44th President, Barack Obama, "Museum 44" is a new multi faceted youth-violence prevention initiative.

"The plan outlined by Mayor Emanuel incorporates the Arts. This is a powerful indicator that there are new opportunities on the way that will allow the community to grow economically and socially," Peterson said, “This charge parallels the Museum’s mission to chronicle and showcase the legacy of the Black Labor history."

“The Mayor's support of the arts in Pullman is viewed as picking up the mantle of former first lady Maggie Daley who was the first to share our vision.” declared Peterson. He noted that Mrs. Daley facilitated the funding for the ten foot concrete mosaic statue located on the lawn of the museum, which bears the likeness of A. Philip Randolph, Pullman Porters, and Milton P. Webster, was created by Renee Townsend and 15 Corliss High School students. The statue stands prominently at the site of the Museum, 10406 S. Maryland directly across the Wheelworks Complex highlighted in the plan.

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