In the late 1800s, Pullman was one of the largest producers of luxury rail sleeper cars in the world and its owner, George Pullman, developed a town for his workers on what is now the Far South Side of Chicago. In 1894, in response to the depression, known as the Panic of 1893, a year earlier, Pullman laid off workers and lowered wages, but did not lower rents in the company-owned homes he built for his workers. This sparked a nationwide strike and local riots on May 11, 1894 involving nearly 4,000 workers against the company and U.S. government.
Eventually, 125,000 workers boycotted the railways, causing the government to get involved since mail delivery was being disrupted; U.S. Army troops and U.S. Marshalls were sent in to get people back to work. In the end, violence erupted, leaving 30 strikers dead and another 57 wounded with $80 million in damage to property, which is nearly $2.2 billion in today’s money. This also prompted Labor Day to be made a national holiday.
Check out some photos during the strike and riots from Calumet412.com.