Historic Chicago Neighborhood One of Nation’s Best

October 10, 2011

An area of Chicago real estate that was developed 131 years ago for factory workers has been named one of America’s greatest places.

The American Planning Association (APA) has chosen Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood as one of the 2011 Greatest Places in America.

It’s the first Chicago neighborhood ever to be named one of America’s Greatest Neighborhoods by the APA.

First, a little history. Pullman was developed in 1880 by industrialist George Pullman, who believed that the environment could contribute to a worker’s productivity. He purchased 4,000 acres of land along Lake Calumet about 12 miles south of downtown Chicago and built an $8 million community for the workers at his railroad car company.

row of homes in the pullman neighborhood

This APA photo shows a line of landmark homes in the Pullman neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.

The neighborhood included single-family homes with front and back yards, indoor plumbing, gas lighting and cross ventilation, all features that were not commonly found in working-class towns at the time.

Many of the original properties are still present today.

The APA chose Pullman as one of its Top 10 Greatest Neighborhoods for its rich history and for its residents’ ongoing pursuit to preserve that history, as well as its smart design, architecture and park-like setting.

This is some of what the Association had to say about Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood:

“Pullman’s timeless features have contributed to the renaissance of this handsome former company town. An experiment in industrial order and community planning, the neighborhood features a design that was intelligent in 1880 and “smart” today. The mix of land uses, diversity of dwellings, and proximity to schools, shops, parks, and public transportation attract those who appreciate a historic, urban community with a small-town feel — a place voted the world’s most perfect town more than a century ago.”

The two other categories in the APA Great Places in America survey were Great Public Spaces and Great Streets, in which Main Street in Galena, Illinois, ranked; named as a “haven for Chicago residents” and chosen as “the town time forgot.”

While both Illinois locales on the lists were recognized for their historical significances, the APA actually recognizes these great places for their “forward-thinking” planning.

To see all the results from the survey, and to read more about the Pullman neighborhood and Galena’s Main Street, visit planning.org.

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