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George Pullman

Built first sleeping car on train

George Mortimer Pullman (March 3, 1831 - October 19, 1897) was an American inventor and industrialist. He is known as the inventor of the Pullman sleeping car, and for violently suppressing striking workers in the company town he created, Pullman (which was later annexed and absorbed by Chicago becoming a neighborhood).

Between 1859 and 1863, he spent time as a gold broker near Golden, Colorado where he raised money and met a future business associate, Hanniball Kimball.

He then developed a railroad sleeping car, the Pullman sleeper, or "palace car." These were designed after the packet boats that traveled the Erie Canal of his youth in Albion. The first one was finished in 1864. By arranging to have the body of President Abraham Lincoln carried from Washington, D.C. to Springfield on a sleeper, he received national attention and the orders began to pour in. The sleeping cars proved successful despite the fact that the sleeper cost more than five times the price of a regular railway car. They were marketed as "luxury for the middle class."

In 1867 he introduced his first hotel on wheels, the President, a sleeper with an attached kitchen and dining car. The food rivaled the best restaurants of the day and the service was impeccable. A year later in 1868, he launched the Delmonico, the world's first sleeping car devoted to fine cuisine. The Delmonico menu was prepared by chefs from New York's famed Delmonico's Restaurant. Both the President and the Delmonico and subsequent Pullman sleeping cars offered first-rate service which was provided by recently-freed former house slaves who served as porters, waiters, chambermaids, entertainers, and valets all rolled into one person.

Pullman believed that if his sleeper cars were to be successful, he needed to provide a wide variety of services to travelers: collecting tickets, selling berths, dispatching wires, fetching sandwiches, mending torn trousers, converting day coaches into sleepers, etc. Pullman believed that the former house slaves of the plantation south had the right combination of training and acquiescence to serve the businessmen that would patronize his "Palace Cars." Pullman became the biggest single employer of African Americans in post-Civil War America.

In 1869 Pullman bought out the Detroit Car and Manufacturing Company. He bought the patents and business of his eastern competitor, the Central Transportation Company in 1870. In the spring of 1871, George Pullman, Andrew Carnegie, and others bailed out the financially troubled Union Pacific and were placed onto its board of directors. By 1875 the Pullman firm owned $100,000 worth of patents, had 700 cars in operation, and had several hundred thousand dollars in the bank.

In 1887, he designed and established the system of ?vestibuled trains,? which virtually made an entire train into a single car. The vestibules were first put in service upon the Pennsylvania trunk lines.