Pullman designated National Monument; watch our film on this Chicago treasure

On February 19, 2015 President Barack Obama will officially designate the south Chicago neighborhood of Pullman as America's next National Monument, and Chicago's first National Park site. To mark this great news, we are now releasing this video online free for 2 months. It can be found, along with many other extras, on the DVD for our classic film The Last Pullman Car.

Historic Pullman Factory 2011 Screening of THE LAST PULLMAN CAR from Kartemquin Films on Vimeo.

As part of the celebration of the 45th anniversary of Kartemquin, in October 2011 South Side Projections, the Pullman State Historic Site, and the Bronzeville/Black Chicagoan Historical Society presented a screening of the documentary The Last Pullman Car (1984, Gordon Quinn & Jerry Blumenthal, 16mm) at the historic Clock Tower Building, part of the original Pullman factory complex. Co-directors Gordon Quinn and Jerry Blumenthal, also co-founders of Kartemquin, were present for discussion with former Pullman workers.

This video was shot by Fall 2011 KTQ interns Ryan Bedore, Sarah Bice, Morgan Johnson and Biliana Grozdanova, and edited by Ryan Bedore and Liza Kaar at Kartemquin. The discussion covers the making of the film, the fate of the Pullman neighborhood after the factory closed, and the relevance to continues labor and class disputes, such as the Occupy movement and the Citizens United ruling.

In 1864, George Pullman began selling his famous railroad sleeping cars which helped him build a vast industrial empire that was supposed to last forever. In 1981, however, Pullman workers found themselves in the midst of a fight not only for their jobs but the future of the American rail car industry. The United Steelworkers Local 1834 tried in vain to keep the Pullman-Standard Company from shutting down its operations in Pullman, putting several hundred people out of work. Kartemquin Films’ compelling documentary The Last Pullman Car concentrates on the workers' plight as their elected officials, the company, and finally the national union seem deaf to their concerns. Set against the history of the struggle between labor and corporations, but as relevant today as it was then, The Last Pullman Car tells yet another story of American industry abandoning our workers and communities.

The Last Pullman Car originally aired on PBS, won First Prize at the Athens International Film Festival, an Honorable Mention at the 1984 American Film Festival, and screened at Chicago International Film Festival, Rotterdam and Big Muddy film festivals. Upon its release, Larry Kart of the Chicago Tribune wrote that "by the time the film is over it's impossible to distance oneself from the plight of these workers who are being shunted aside by their company, by their legislators, and by society as a whole," while Studs Terkel wrote: "this film is a battlecry!"


Original 1984 Kartemquin promotional brochure for The Last Pullman Car.