Archive for June, 2016


Navy Pier and Pullman NM Chicago and River Raisin National Battlefield Park MI

June 30, 2016

June 27, 2016 – Navy Pier Chicago – Cathie and Jim joined us for a tour of Navy Pier and a ride on the Centennial Wheel – the date on the picture is wrong!







We then took a walk downtown


 Followed by a trip to the Lincoln Park Conservatory




June 28, 2016 – Pullman National Monument, Chicago – The town of Pullman was a planned manufacturing and residential community created by George M. Pullman (1831-1897) for building luxury railroad cars – “Pullman Palace Car Company.”  The expensive cars were typically rented out to railroads with trained employees.  It was a “Model” Town with all the latest amenities but was controlled by the company.  Administration building and north factory wing



Florence Hotel, named after Pullman’s favorite daughter


The Arcade, one of the first “indoor malls” was completed in 1882.  The map shows the extent of the Pullman complex.


Pullman flourished from 1880 until the financial panic of 1893.  At that time, in order to remain profitable, the company laid off or reduced workers’ salaries but not their rents.  The workers (4,000) presented their grievances – rigid paternalistic control of workers, excessive water and gas rates and inability of workers to buy and own their own homes to the company but to no avail.  In May 1894 the Pullman Strike began and was supported by the American Railways Union, which called a nationwide boycott affecting any train that moved a Pullman car.  At its peak, the boycott involved 250,000 workers in 27 midwest and western states.  Trains came to a halt (affecting mail service) and President Grover Cleveland called up Federal troops to get the trains moving (break the strike).  There was much violence across the country and thirty people were killed.  In an effort to conciliate organized labor after the strike, President Cleveland and Congress designated Labor Day (1894) as a federal holiday.  Legislation for the holiday was pushed through Congress six days after the strike ended.

Pullman workers returned to their jobs on condition that they would never again join a union.  After Pullman’s death in 1897, the IL Supreme Court declared the company ownership of non-manufacturing structures in the town of Pullman as illegal.  Within 10 years all the residential buildings were made available for private ownership.  The company recovered with peak production occurring in the mid 1920s when the company fleet grew to 9,800 cars.  This site ceased operation in 1969 and the last Pullman car was made for Amtrak in 1981.

Pullman started his enterprise by building sleeping cars and expanded into luxurious accommodations with outstanding customer service.



Many of the company’s first service workers, such as porters and waiters, were former house slaves who relocated to train hubs around the country.  Job opportunities for African Americans were created by the company where few had existed.  Pullman porters formed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1937 and became the first African-American labor union, which later significantly impacted the Civil Rights Movement.

A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum is located near the north boundary of the monument



Some of the 1,300 housing units, most of which were Pullman row houses


The Pullman Wheelworks is across the street from the Museum, now public housing


On February 16, 2015 President Obama declared Pullman a National Monument


We walked about a mile through the south row house district admiring the rehabilitation efforts on the houses.  We saw a woman exiting one of the nicer three story row houses and Helen immediately started a conversation.  She said she had lived there 56 years and ran the restaurant in the Florence Hotel for 16 years.  She gave us a tour of the first floor (ten doors on the first floor!) and stated that the house was originally occupied by a Pullman relative.  We then continued exploring the neighborhood and ate lunch at the Pullman Café across from the Greenstone Church.

We then drove to Toledo, had dinner at the Beirut restaurant and settled in to our room at the Marriott Fairfield Inn just north of the city.


June 29 (my birthday!) – drove the short distance to Monroe MI and the River Raisin National Battlefield Park.


This park commemorates and describes the two battles at “Frenchtown,” on the Raisin River (west end or Lake Erie), during the War of 1812.  It was the site of the largest engagement of the war.  The U.S. declared war on Britain in 1812.  However, the British defeated three attempts by the U.S. to invade Canada.


In August, General Hull surrendered Detroit and the Michigan Territory.  A campaign was then begun to retake Detroit.  On January 18, 1813 the Americans attacked and routed a British garrison force at Frenchtown.  About 1,000 Kentucky militia and 100 local militia now defended the settlement.  On January 22nd a British force of 1,200 including British regulars, Upper Canada militia and about 600 Indians under the command of Chiefs Roundhead and Walk-in-the Water surprised the Americans.


Tecumseh had allied his Indian Confederation with the British in hopes of maintaining Indian control of the western frontier, however, he was absent from this battle.  Native forces included warriors from the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Ottawa, Chippewa, Delaware, Miami, Winnebago, Creek, Sauk and Fox tribes.  Only 33 men escaped, 387 were killed and 500 taken prisoner.  This was a major victory for the British and their Indian allies.

On January 23rd, the day after the battle, Indians again descended on the encampment killing and scalping 30 to 60 wounded American prisoners.  The Indians would not allow the bodies from the battle to be removed and they were left there over the winter months.  When General Harrison lead a campaign north later in 1813, the rallying cry was “Remember the Raisin.”  On October 5th the U.S. defeated the British and their Native allies in the Battle of Thames and Tecumseh was killed.

These three men were involved in the construction of the attractive National Park sign.


We hiked the 17th Infantry Loop Trail and then explored downtown Monroe MI


General George A. Custer was born in Ohio in 1839 but spent most of his childhood living in Monroe with his half-sister.  He died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn with his two younger brothers in 1876.


The War of 1812 resulted in the current boundaries between the U.S. and Canada.