Several Illinois historic sites are pushing to become national parks. Three sites are at different stages of gaining that designation—the Pullman District in Chicago, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Saint Clair County, and the New Philadelphia Town Site in Pike County. Phillip Bradshaw, president of the New Philadelphia Association, says that while becoming a national park would attract more visitors, it’s not the only motive.
“The biggest thing is it preserves a part of history that has not been told before,” Bradshaw said, “and once it becomes part of the National Park Service, it will be preserved, in perpetuity, for everyone.”
New Philadelphia is the furthest along in the process, with a bill to study the possibility of making it a national park having already passed in the U.S. House.
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A similar bill for Pullman has been introduced in the Senate, while Saint Clair County has passed a resolution asking Congress to consider doing the same for Cahokia Mounds.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is located on the site of an ancient Native American city directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
The Pullman District was the first planned industrial community in the U.S. A company town founded by George Pullman who housed workers for the Pullman Company which manufactured the Pullman sleeping car. It was also the scene of the violent Pullman strike in 1894.
New Philadelphia, in Pike County, was the first American town founded by a black person, former slave, Frank McWorter. It became a racially integrated community long before the Civil War. The 1850 U.S. Census showed black and white families living there. Bypassed by the railroad in 1869, residents slowly left and were all gone by the late 1880s.