Why Was Pullman, Illinois an Unusual Town?

Pullman, Ill. was unique because it was a precursor to the modern planned community. The town was designed and built by George Pullman. The purpose of building from the ground up was to prevent common social issues of the era.

Unlike many wealthy businessmen of the late 19th century, Pullman believed that a town where jobs within a healthy environment and a higher-than-average standard of living were available would attract skilled workers and facilitate a contented population. The proximity to Chicago and railroad tracks was critical in the selection of the town’s location.

Pullman, a railroad man, wanted to make sure that big cities would be easily accessible from his small town. Local raw materials were used to construct the buildings, which were built by Pullman’s employees. Each home had a front yard and a backyard and was equipped with water, gas and plumbing. Rent included waste management and maintenance services. Parks and large green spaces were also incorporated into the design of the town.

Pullman’s planning and ideas were a success. In 1896, at the Prague International Hygienic and Pharmaceutical Exposition, Pullman, Ill. was voted the most perfect town in the world. After almost being demolished before being saved by an organization that formed for the sole purpose of rescuing the town, Pullman rebounded and, in 2011, was listed among the best places in America.