IMG_0173 - Version 3This summer, we traveled to the South Side of Chicago and visited the Historic Pullman Village, created by the engineer and industrialist George Pullman. In the early 1880s, Pullman devised this ideal community and, with the help of an architect, landscape designer and builders, crafted one of the first planned industrial communities in the U.S. It was honored, in 1896, as the “World’s Most Perfect Town.”


A resident’s profession determined the quality of the building he lived in:
linesmen occupied humble spaces, while executives and master craftsmen had much more elaborate living arrangements.

Everyone rented their homes from Pullman — even the Sleeping Cars, built at the factory where a brutal strike erupted in 1894. Pullman had refused to pay his workers enough money during the depression of 1893, while still expecting full rent payments from them (go figure: arrogance or stupidity?). Fun fact: the character of Mr. Potter, “The Richest Man in Bedford Falls” from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life was based on Pullman (who was not quite a well-liked boss.)

IMG_0083I came to Chicago 30 years ago with my mother; the Hotel Florence was still open and served Victorian style meals. Stores still dotted the neighborhood then, in the early 1980s, but the village has since fallen into disrepair.  I’m fascinated by visual decay as it relates to images and photographs and there is plenty of that in Pullman Village. The factory was burnt down in 1996 by a homeless man, and current residents in the community are trying their best to repair and maintain the building. There is a push to make the factory and surrounding village a National Historic Park.

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There was even some talk that President Obama might have his Presidential Library here, but I think it would take a major effort to get this place up and running. After living so long in New England, I realize we do a better job of historic preservation on the east coast, perhaps because we place a higher value on what is old and historic. “When buildings get old, we just tear them down,” said a person I spoke to in the Chicago IMG_0088Suburb of Highland Park. How sad…

We also visited the island of North Haven off the coast of Rockland, Maine: a place of rocky beaches and restaurants. Once you arrive, it’s as though time has stood still for 100 years. My brother’s summer house (which came from a Sears Catalog from the 1920s) is on the island. Despite its complicated culture and politics (and how expensive it is to get anything fixed), it remains a lovely and peaceful place to visit.

The Nebo Lodge, where we stayed, has fantastic cupcakes and pastries that they greet you with upon arrival; the lodge also rocks at night in the dining/bar — a tasteful and arty space, in an eclectic way, with mismatched

pvan silverware and antique napkins and wildflowers everywhere. I snapped a picture of an old car, keeping with my historical theme. It’s a Ford… I wonder if it’s a Model T?