President Obama will designate Chicago's historic Pullman Park district as a national monument, a White House official said.

The president will travel to Chicago on Feb. 19, to designate the monument, a White House official confirmed to The Hill.


The official said Obama is using his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and that the move was part of his effort to protect and promote the nation's diverse history. It will be Obama's 14th time using the act to designate a national monument.

The area was built by businessman George Pullman as a factory and company town for his workers who constructed the iconic Pullman railway cars in the late 1800s. It became the birthplace of the country's first African-American union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and was the site of a massive strike.

"Pullman workers fought for fair labor conditions in the late 19th century and the Pullman porters helped advance America’s civil rights movement," Lynn McClure, the Midwest senior director for the National Parks Conservation Association told The Washington Post.

The president's visit could also boost his former chief of staff, current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who faces a Democratic primary on Feb. 24 as he seeks reelection. Emanuel, and members of the Illinois congressional delegation will join Obama during the designation ceremony.

The mayor, along with Illinois lawmakers from both parties, pressed Obama to make the historic site a national park.

The president has used the Antiquities Act multiple times to designate national monuments, including five in one day in March 2013.

Those moves sparked criticism from Republican lawmakers who say those areas are now subject to tough land restrictions and see the expansion of federal lands by millions of acres without congressional approval an abuse of power. But the actions have been cheered by preservationists and green groups.

In October, the president designated nearly 350,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains in California a national monument and vowed that he was "not finished."