Chicago’s historic Pullman District, a World War II internment camp and a section of Colorado’s upper Arkansas River Valley will become the nation’s newest national monuments this week, a White House official told CNN.
President Barack Obama plans to make the announcement Thursday during a visit to Chicago’s Pullman town, a historic industrial site that will become the first National Park Service unit in the city, the official said.
Obama is naming the sites using his authority under the Antiquities Act, which he has already used to establish or expand 16 national monuments. Since 1906, presidents have used the act to protect other historic and natural sites across the country, including the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.
Pullman National Monument, Illinois
America’s first planned industrial town, the 203-acre site within the present-day city of Chicago has factories and buildings from the Pullman Palace Car Co., a railway car company dating to 1867. The company town was established in the 1880s.
A majority white work force constructed the famous railway cars, while a mostly black work force from the ranks of former slaves worked in service positions on the cars. Key to the rise of an African-American middle class, the porters made labor history by organizing as the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters and eventually winning a historic labor agreement.
“Pullman workers fought for fair labor conditions in the late 19th century, and the Pullman porters helped advance America’s civil rights movement,” said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois.
“During the economic depression of the 1890s, the Pullman community was the catalyst for the first industry-wide strike in the United States, which helped lead to the creation of Labor Day as a national day.”
Honouliuli National Monument, Hawaii
Not far from Pearl Harbor, the Honouliuli Internment Camp opened in 1943 and was the longest-used and largest site for holding Japanese-Americans, European-Americans and resident immigrants in Hawaii. The internment camp, which once held captive 400 civilian internees and 4,000 prisoners of war, will be managed by the National Park Service.
“Honouliuli represents a dark period in our history when thousands of Japanese-Americans in Hawai’i and across the country were forced into internment camps during World War II,” Sen. Brian Schatzor, D-Hawaii, said in a statement.
“This historic site will memorialize the strength and bravery of the many Japanese-Americans who faced discrimination and serve as a reminder to ourselves and future generations that we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Browns Canyon National Monument, Colorado
Located in the upper Arkansas River Valley near the town of Salida, this 21,000-acre monument will protect the bighorn sheep, bald eagles and amazing diversity of wildlife and plants that inhabit the mountains and cliffs of Browns Canyon.
The designation will support outdoor human activity such as hiking, hunting and fishing, protect the watershed and keep in place existing water rights and uses. The site will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and Department of Agriculture’s National Forest Service.
“Browns Canyon is a national treasure with a long history of bipartisan support in Colorado,” said Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, adding that the monument will stand as a tribute to former Sen. Mark Udall’s legacy of protecting this and other Colorado sites.
However, Gardner stated his preference to work through the legislative process. “In the coming days I will be introducing legislation to ensure that Colorado’s state and local interests have a seat at the table in discussions about Browns Canyon.”