National Park Service Director Jarvis Discusses Potential for New National Park System Designation for Pullman Historic District

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CHICAGO, ILL. – Today, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis heard from neighbors and advocates supporting the inclusion of Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood in the national park system.

Jarvis joined other state and local officials at the public meeting, which included significant attendance from local community members and activists interested in telling the nationally significant Pullman story and boosting economic activity in the neighborhood. Jarvis discussed how new sites are added to the National Park System and talked about the benefits associated with the designation of a National Park Service unit. In 2013, national park visitors contributed $26.5 billion to the nation’s economy and supported almost 240,000 jobs across the country.

“In advance of Labor Day, the history of the Pullman Historic District seems all the more relevant, including compelling stories about manufacturing, civil rights, labor relations, and urban planning. These are important chapters of this nation’s history. It energizes me to see how engaged and committed the community in and around Pullman is to the idea of including this site in our National Park System,” said Jarvis. “As the National Park Service looks toward our centennial in 2016, sites like Pullman also offer opportunities for more Americans to visit parks that are close to home and that allow them to discover the stories of our shared history that resonate on a personal level.

On August 25, 2014, the National Park Service will celebrate its 98th anniversary on Founder’s Day, marking two years until the National Park Service’s centennial.  Leading up to its centennial, the National Park Service has launched a public awareness campaign to help Americans find their park.

“If the Pullman Historic District is added to the National Park System, it would allow us to introduce the National Park Service and its role in protecting all Americans stories to a new community,” said Jarvis. “Reaching new audiences and inviting them to discover the value of all parks is a key goal for the National Park Service as it moves into its second century.”

Constructed by industrialist George Pullman between 1880 and 1884, Pullman was a completely planned model industrial town, representing a dramatic and pioneering departure from the unhealthy, over-crowded makeshift and unsanitary living conditions found in working-class districts in other 19th century industrial cities and towns. In 1894, it was the focus of a bloody and violent strike which had spread nation-wide over the railroad networks, prompting President Grover Cleveland to intervene with Federal troops and resulting in the first use of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act against the unions.

Last year, the National Park Service issued a reconnaissance survey of the Pullman Historic District, which determined the site to be of national significance. Reconnaissance surveys are preliminary assessments that determine whether a site is likely to meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Park System: significance, suitability, feasibility, and need for direct National Park Service management. 

New additions to the National Park System can be accomplished by an act of Congress. The first step in that process is frequently a National Park Service study, like the reconnaissance survey completed last year for Pullman Historic District. A unit of the National Park System can also be created through the use of the Antiquities Act, which allows the President to designate a site as a national monument. Since the enactment of the Antiquities Act in 1906, most Presidents have used the authority, resulting in the establishment of almost 140 national monuments and assuring the protection of their historic or scientific resources.  Later, Congress has often revisited these areas and re-designated them as national parks.  Almost half of the national parks in the National Park System today were first protected as national monuments under the Antiquities Act. 

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at:

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