The Heritage of Social Class and Class Conflict on Chicago’s South Side

James R. Barrett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay examines the ways that Chicagoans commemorated or ignored their working-class past and looks at Pullman, Haymarket, and the Back of the Yards as particularly apt examples of this remembering and forgetting. When heritage is associated with the built environment, as in Pullman, a carefully planned company town and the site in 1894 of one of the most famous labor conflicts in the US history, the emphasis is usually on the architecture and preservation of tangible reminders of the industrial past. In many evocations of industrial Chicago, however, the people themselves are lost, overwhelmed by the giant machinery and plants. Sometimes, it is contention over the appropriate commemoration of events involving class conflict that causes important sites to go largely unmarked for decades, as was the case with Chicago's famous Haymarket Square, the site of the great strikes of 1886, commemorated as the international workers' celebration of May Day. But the need to remember, along with the increasing physical deterioration and the erasure of the working-class past through gentrification and deindustrialization, requires that we find the means to mark, preserve, and interpret aspects of working-class heritage and the historical significance of places like these.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOn Location
Subtitle of host publicationHeritage Cities and Sites
EditorsD Fairchild Ruggles
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781461411086
ISBN (Print)1461411076, 9781461411079
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012


  • labor movement
  • class conflict
  • labor history
  • meat trust
  • famous architect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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