On the far south side of Chicago, this older neighborhood, once home to scores of area factory workers, now houses scores of families that enjoy its rich history and affordable real estate. For an area that got its start as a residence for industrial labor (and a place with its fair share of factories), West Pullman has an unexpectedly high incidence of parkland, playlots and other outdoor recreation sites. The neighborhood's residential blocks range from verdant, tree-lined yards that require the care of a good push mower and gardener to more urban areas with tightly-packed dwellings stretching as far as the eye can see. Among the different housing styles found along the West Pullman streets there is one property that gets quite a bit more attention than any other home. It is a beautiful example of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright's signature design, incorporating geometric forms, the surrounding landscape, in addition and elements of Japanese patterns.
During the 1880s, George M. Pullman ran a railroad car factory south of Chicago's city limits. In order to provide his laborers with housing, he constructed Pullmanâ€”a town governed by his company exclusively for the workers of his company. Since the managers and administrators of the Pullman business controlled both wages and rent, they effectively had complete power over their employees. This struck many as unfair (it struck them as more than unfair later when they held a strike in 1894). Despite Pullman's reputation as one of the world's best towns with many amenities and natural beauty, a number of workers began building their own houses in an area to the southwest of Pullman.
As other industrial facilities sprung up in the south Chicago region, the developments of these Pullman employees were soon joined by those of laborers from other manufacturing plants nearby. Soon the area flourished from the workers and employers of a number of factories, including International Harvester, Whitman and Barnes, and Carter White Lead Paint. The mixed-community of working-class and white-collar residents thrived and was eventually incorporated into the city of Chicago in the 1890s.
In the 1920s, sociologists from the University of Chicago merged a number of smaller communities into the area known today as West Pullman, as part of their initiative to create a series of neighborhood boundaries that Chicago uses to this day. Overall the large West Pullman neighborhood remains much of what it has always beenâ€”a residential community for people on all ends of the economic spectrum.