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What's a Pullman Palace Car?

Pullman car interiorIn the 1890s, the main form of long-distance transportation was by train. Since many of these trips took longer than a day to complete, some of the trains included special cars that included sleeping rooms. The most impressive of that type of car was built and operated by the Pullman Palace Car company near Chicago. Instead of passengers having to sleep in their seats or stopping overnight in a hotel, these cars were like hotels that moved with you as you continued your journey.

Besides sleeping cars, Pullman also built other fancy train cars for dining, lounging and riding in during the day. The train cars were as beautiful as many of the Victorian homes in which its passengers lived.

Pullman porter helping a woman.
The Pullman porters, regardless of their true name, were traditionally referred to as "George" by the travelers, the name of the company's founder, George Pullman. At the time, Pullman was said to be the largest employer of African-Americans in the US.

The Pullman company was so big by the 1890s that it had built its own city in which its employees lived. Much of the workers' pay went right back to the company, though, to cover the cost ofPullman workers homesrenting their homes.

In 1894 the employees decided that the company wasn't being fair with them and went on strike, in part because of the housing situation.

Reporter Nellie Bly came to Chicago, talked with the striking workers and wrote an important story telling the world about their situation.

Pullman's arcade parkDuring World War II Pullman began building boats for the war/ They continued building sleeping cars until 1957. By the 1970s Pullman had switched to building train cars for New York's subway system, but within a few years all of its assets were sold to other companies.

The company town of Pullman exists today as one of the neighborhood districts of the city of Chicago and has been designated a historic landmark.


Read more about Pullman Palace Cars: http://www.railswest.com/pullman.html


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Pullmann Palace Cars What's a Carrom Game? What's the World Columbian Exhibition? Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

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Page updated: 10/29/2015