Argus Historian, Nick Lubovich, Describes Pullman History, Brewery Happenings

Nick Lubovich | Argus Brewery HistorianPretty much what that means is that I don’t know how to make the beer, but I can tell you all about the building, the neighborhood, and the street that the beer is made on. And I can drink the beer with you. So if that works out we’re gonna have a wonderful time. If this is anything like other brewery tours I’m doing it wrong. I want you to feel like you’re at home, or hanging out at a friend’s house in their basement bar— but I guarantee we’re not gonna run out of Dad’s beer. [laughs]

Every Saturday for the last three years I’ve been here. Every Saturday except for two. When my son was born five months ago, my wife went into labor on Saturday and I finished the tours before heading to the hospital. [laughs] Because I see how important it is, to see a hundred people a Saturday from all over— the majority of people here are from the suburbs, Naperville, the North Side, everywhere. To get them to come to Pullman, that’s huge.

Let me tell you a little about the neighborhood. In 1880, George Pullman started the Pullman Palace Car Company, where they made Pullman sleeper cars. It was the nation’s first planned industrial town, and what that meant was that the Pullman workers lived in the Pullman houses, they worked at the Pullman factory, their kids went to the Pullman school, they spent their Pullman dollars at the Pullman store, and when they died— where did they go J.T.?

J.T., nearby: They went to Pullman hell.

They went to Pullman hell. [laughs] That’s an actual quote from one of the workers, it’s unknown exactly who said it, probably because the guy didn’t want to get fired. Whole families, they uprooted from all over the world and came to Pullman. Yeah, there was indoor plumbing, beautiful gardens, things that were unheard of for workers in the 1880s, but when they got here they realized they had to live under Pullman’s rules. And one of those rules that we find near and dear to our hearts was no alcohol for his workers. There was no place in the whole town of Pullman to get a beer if you were the working man. The people that needed the beer the most couldn’t get it. There was one bar in the Hotel Florence, but it was for visitors and high-ups, so the walls were never seen by Pullman workers.

You know Schlitz, right? The beer that made Milwaukee famous? They saw this as an opportunity, purchased these two square blocks from the Pullman factory in 1907 and built Schlitz Row. It was the original walk of shame. Pullman workers, they’d walk through the alleys because they didn’t want their neighbors knowing where they were going. Bars, brothels, gambling, everything that was good (or bad depending on what you like) happened on these two square blocks. Even now, I mean look at us, drinking beer on the street.

Read the full story at The Midwestern Diner.

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