Community leaders call for congressional action to establish Pullman National Historical Park
CHICAGO – Designating Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood as a national historical park will attract more than 300,000 visitors each year, create 350 jobs annually, $15 million in annual wages, and sustain $40 million in economic activity, mostly due to visitor spending according to a report released today. The report, Economic Engine: An Analysis of the Potential Impact of a Pullman National Historical Park (click here to view), is a joint project of the City of Chicago, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and the National Parks Conservation Association. Market Feasibility Advisors, LLC was engaged to evaluate the economic impact that creating Chicago’s first national historical park at Pullman would have on the city and region.
Presented in the neighborhood’s historic clock tower building, the report provides strong economic support for designating Pullman as a national park, outlining the significant return on investment, the promotion of heritage tourism and spending, the attraction of new visitors to the region, the stimulation of new business growth, the creation of jobs and the rejuvenation of Pullman’s historic core renovations.
The report findings are supported by the City of Chicago and the state of Illinois and included encouraging comments from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn. “Few sites in American preserve the industrial, labor, urban planning and architectural history as comprehensively as Pullman. It would additionally energize the ongoing economic advancements happening in the area and help create opportunity for generations to come,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago.
“A Pullman National Historical Park would draw visitors from around the world to experience our heritage and generate a large economic impact in the Chicago area. Pullman is a tremendous economic engine that needs to be fueled by this National Park Service designation,” said Governor Pat Quinn.
The extensive and detailed report assessed current and prior operations of existing historic sites within Pullman; researched peer units of the National Park System including national historical parks and national historical sites in large urban areas; interviewed local stakeholders; and analyzed the demographic and visitor marketplace context in Chicago. The report’s findings indicate that a Pullman National Historical Park would increase economic development on Chicago’s South Side by fostering new businesses aligned with visitor needs, energize the ongoing economic advancements already happening across the historic community and realize additional economic growth, adding to the new retail and manufacturing companies who have made Pullman their home.
“Every dollar invested in national park operations generates ten dollars locally,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Today’s study shows that the establishment of Pullman as a national historical park would provide a source of economic growth through increased tourism and job creation on Chicago’s South Side. It will also provide new preservation and conservation opportunities to this important historical site which truly represents America’s cultural and ethnic diversity.”
According to Senator Mark Kirk’s office, “The National Parks Conservation Association report provides important data that makes the economic case for the Pullman Historic Site to be Chicago’s first national park,” said Kirk spokesman Lance Trover. “The development of the Pullman National Historic Park could help boost the regional economy, generating millions in economic output and thousands of annual jobs. Senator Kirk will continue working with Senator Durbin on the path forward to make this park a reality.”
“Designating Pullman a national park will be a huge boost for the economy of the neighborhood. It will bring tourism spending, the opportunity to access federal infrastructure dollars, and private investment, all of which are much needed here. A lot of work is already underway including new investment in retail, industrial and residential development. The national park will build on this progress and further bolster and encourage new investment,” said David Doig, President, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives.
As an urban national park where people make their homes, Pullman National Historical Park would include various landowners, creating a strong base of partnerships at the outset. Many private property owners would work closely with the National Park Service, state of Illinois, City of Chicago and local partners to restore and protect their historic neighborhood.
“Pullman’s story of the labor movement is an important one that deserves to be told. Designating the area as a national park would ensure that the story that shaped our country – the union movement, the industrial age, the railroads – is passed down and never forgotten,” Second District Congresswoman Robin Kelly said. “The park would make Pullman and the South Side of Chicago an international tourism draw, which would give the area a tremendous economic boost as well.”
There is strong support from Illinois’ members of Congress for the park designation and with the demonstrated strong public support, the contingent of community leaders and park advocates anticipates that legislation will be introduced soon. “I’m excited that we have so much support for getting a national park designation at Pullman. We feel strongly about what a national park can do for our community,” said Alderman Anthony Beale, City of Chicago, Ninth Ward. “A national park means that we will be able to attract federal resources and business growth, shops, stores and restaurants for visitors and residents alike. Once there is a national park at Pullman you’re going to see more great things happening in the Roseland and Pullman communities.”
“National parks are economic generators, producing $31 billion for local economies each year,” said Lynn McClure, Midwest director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “That’s comparable to the revenue of many Fortune 500 companies. And the unique stories that Pullman tells should be told to the millions of people visiting national parks each year.”
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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