George Pullman

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George Mortimer Pullman (March 3, 1831 – October 19, 1897) was an American inventor and industrialist. He is known as the inventor of the Pullman sleeping car, and for violently suppressing striking workers in the company town he created, Pullman (which was later annexed and absorbed by Chicago becoming a neighborhood).



Born in Brocton, New York, his family moved to Albion, New York, where he gained many of his ideas that made him successful. Pullman also manufactured coffins during this time. Pullman dropped out of school at age 14, and eventually became one of Chicago's most influential and controversial figures. He arrived in Chicago as that city prepared to build the nation's first comprehensive system.

Chicago was built on a low-lying bog, and it was said that the mud in the streets was deep enough to drown a horse.[1] Unable to drain sewage by placing the sewers below ground, Chicago put its sewers on top of the street and covered them, effectively raising the street level 6–8 feet. Pullman was one of the engineers that undertook the task of raising the buildings of central Chicago to the new grade, and of building new foundations under them (a technique his father used to move homes during the widening of the Erie Canal) and Pullman’s reputation was greatly enhanced when the Ely, Smith & Pullman partnership raised the massive Tremont House, a six-story brick hotel, with the guests remaining inside.[2]

Development of Pullman sleeping car

Between 1859 and 1863, he spent time as a gold broker near Golden, Colorado where he raised money and met a future business associate, Hanniball Kimball.

He then developed a railroad sleeping car, the Pullman sleeper, or "palace car." These were designed after the packet boats that traveled the Erie Canal of his youth in Albion. The first one was finished in 1864. By arranging to have the body of President Abraham Lincoln carried from Washington, D.C. to Springfield on a sleeper, he received national attention and the orders began to pour in. The sleeping cars proved successful despite the fact that the sleeper cost more than five times the price of a regular railway car. They were marketed as "luxury for the middle class."

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