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Berwyn, Illinois
County: Cook
Township: Berwyn
Mayor: Robert Lovero
ZIP code(s): 60402
Area code(s): 708
Population (2000): 54,016
Density: 13,876.2/mi² (5,361.4/km²)
Area: 3.9 mi² (10.1 km²)
Per capita income: $19,113
(median: $43,101)
Home value: $143,057 (2000)
(median: $137,400)
White Black Hispanic Asian
73.44% 1.30% 38% 2.60%
Islander Native Other
0.03% 0.44% 18.60%

Berwyn is a city in Cook County, Illinois, co-existent with Berwyn Township, which was formed in 1908 after breaking off from Cicero Township. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 54,016.



Berwyn is located at 41°50′33″N 87°47′24″W / 41.8425°N 87.79°W / 41.8425; -87.79 (41.842531, -87.789905)[2].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.1 km² (3.9 mi²), all land.


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 54,016 people, 19,702 households, and 12,924 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,361.4/km² (13,876.2/mi²). There were 20,691 housing units at an average density of 2,053.7/km² (5,315.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.44% White, 1.30% African American, 0.44% Native American, 2.59% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 18.59% from other races, and 3.62% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 38% of the population, with Mexican Americans representing 31.0%. Non-Hispanic whites were 56.42% of the population.

The top five non-Hispanic ancestries reported in Berwyn as of the 2000 census were Polish (12.0%), German (11.8%), Irish (11.1%), Italian (10.4%) and Czech (6.8%).[4]

There were 19,702 households out of which 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.4% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.45.

The age distribution was 26.2% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,833, and the median income for a family was $51,767. Males had a median income of $35,490 versus $26,668 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,113. About 6.2% of families and 7.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.8% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.


The land that today makes up Berwyn was originally fairly marshy and cold. As the glaciers receded at the end of the last ice age, a giant body of water known as Ancient Lake Chicago was created. Over time Lake Chicago grew smaller and became Lake Michigan, and the stream that connected the lake to Illinois River became a swamp known as Mud Lake. Mud Lake extended nearly to the Southern border of today's Berwyn.

In 1846, the first land in "Berwyn" was deeded to Theodore Doty who built the eight-foot wide Plank Road from Chicago to Ottawa. This thoroughfare became what is now Ogden Avenue in South Berwyn. In 1856, Thomas F. Baldwin purchased 347 acres (1.40 km2) of land, bordered by what is now Ogden Avenue, Ridgeland Avenue, 31st Street, and Harlem Avenue, in hopes of developing a rich and aristocratic community called "LaVergne." However, few people were interested in grassy marshland. Mud Lake extended nearly to the Southern border of today's Berwyn, and the land flooded regularly during heavy rains. Also the only mode of transportation to LaVergne was horse and buggy on the Plank Road.

To encourage people to move to LaVergne, Baldwin sold an 80-foot (24 m) wide strip of property to the Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1862. The rail line opened in 1864, but the train did not stop regularly in the area. The railroad refused to build a station, so the residents of the area constructed LaVergne Station on Ridgeland Avenue in 1874.

However, the financial panic of 1873 and Baldwin's death in 1876 stunted the growth of LaVergne. Baldwin's daughter, Emma, inherited her father's estate, and in 1879 she sold most of the land to a group of realtors controlled by Marshall Field. The new development enacted building codes and stipulated the minimum building cost of each home. By the end of 1880, 12 new homes were built. By 1888, the settlement had grown so much that the Baldwin family donated the triangular piece of land bounded by Ogden Avenue, 34th Street, and Gunderson Avenue so that a school could be built. LaVergne School became the first public building in Berwyn.

In 1890 Charles E. Piper and Wilbur J. Andrews, two Chicago attorneys, purchased a 106-acre (0.43 km2) plot of land from the Field syndicate to develop. The land was bounded by Wesley, Kenilworth, 31st Street, and Ogden Avenues. By the following year, the two received approval from the Cicero Township to double their land holdings.

Piper and Andrews wanted the railroad to a build a station in their development, but the railroad already had stations at La Vergne and at Harlem Avenue. Piper and Andrews decided to build a station with the understanding that trains would stop regularly. They didn't know what to name their station so they consulted a Pennsylvania train timetable to a find a name. The name they chose was "Berwyn," a beautiful subdivision outside of Philadelphia. After 1901, all settlements in the area were known as Berwyn.

While Piper and Andrews were developing the Southern portion of present-day Berwyn, John Kelly was helping to develop the North part from 12th Street to 16th Street. This area was really a part of an Oak Park subdivision, and it even appeared on some maps as "South Oak Park." In fact, children who lived in this area went to school in Oak Park. John Kelly was known as "Mr. Everything" because he was a realtor, builder, insurance seller, and community servant.

In between the two settlements there was little except for a few farms. The area between 16th and 31st Streets was not settled. There were only two paths by which to travel between the two settlements, and today these paths are known as Oak Park Avenue and Ridgeland Avenue. Although Berwyn was chartered as a city in 1908, it was not until the 1920s that this middle portion of land was developed.

During this time Berwyn was known as being the area's fastest growing suburb. The city's stringent building codes resulted in block upon block of well-built brick two story bungalows. Many also contained elaborate design elements typically not seen, such as stained glass windows, clay tile roofs, terra cotta, and intricate brick patterns. Today, Berwyn is noted as having the most significant collection of Chicago-style bungalows in the nation.


Nearly all of Berwyn is in Illinois' 3rd congressional district; the northernmost portion, between Roosevelt Road and 13th Street, is in the 4th district.

The United States Postal Service operates the Berwyn Post Office at 6625 Cermak Road.[5]


Berwyn is served by two K-8 school districts:

  • South Berwyn School District 100 comprises 8 schools: Emerson, Hiawatha, Irving, Komensky, Pershing, and Piper Elementary Schools,Freedom Middle School, and Heritage Middle School.

High school students, depending on residency, attend either J. Sterling Morton High School District 201's J. Sterling Morton High School West in Berwyn or Morton East High School in Cicero.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago operates two PK-8 schools in Berwyn:

  • St. Leonard School
  • St. Odilo School

The third one, St. Mary of Celle, closed after the 2004–2005 school year. The building and premises are still used though.

Parochial grade school students who wish to move onto Parochial secondary education can attend nearby schools such as Fenwick High School in neighboring Oak Park, St. Joseph High School in Westchester, or Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park all of which are co-educational. Trinity High School located in River Forest is a school for Girls.


Spindle by Dustin Shuler

Berwyn was notable for the sculpture Spindle, created by artist Dustin Shuler, and located in the Cermak Plaza shopping center along with other works of art. This spindle was shown in the movie Wayne's World and more recently in the film Wanted with Angelina Jolie. The Spindle was demolished and scrapped on the night of May 2, 2008 to make way for a new Walgreens. Grassroots efforts to Save the Spindle failed to raise the $300,000 + that it would have taken to dismantle and relocate it, which was a major upset amongst the supporters of the art considering the sculputure didn't encroach upon the new Walgreen's final position.

Berwyn has the world's largest laundromat, 13,500 square feet (1,250 m2) in size, with 161 washers and 140 dryers, a kids' play area, big screen TVs, a bird sanctuary, and free pizza on Wednesday nights.[6] It incurred extensive damage from an electrical fire in 2004 but was rebuilt in early 2006. This laundromat received considerable recognition for using a solar thermal system (the largest such installation in Illinois) to meet its hot water needs.[7]

Berwyn now has a growing arts community with a professional equity theater, an Arts Council and top notch music and entertainment venues. The area has become haven for artists who enjoy a vibrant and affordable alternative to Chicago.

The city is the hometown of the popular rock band We Drive Yeah, a band prevalent in the community. The band has a studio record, "Cult Classic," set for relase in January of 2010.

Berwyn is a very diverse community with many larger homes on its south side, and many smaller, bungalow-type homes on the north side around Roosevelt Road and Cermak Road.

For a period Cermak Road earned the nickname "The Bohemian Wall Street" due to the large number of savings and loans located there. In 1991 the Chicago Sun Times reported that "Berwyn has the highest concentration of financial institutions in the world - a tribute to the frugality of its forebears." The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s hit the area especially hard.

Just off the street East Avenue is a large park called Janura Park. It has three baseball/softball diamonds and a hockey/basketball arena.

Proksa Park comprises approximately 15 acres (61,000 m2) and is located between 29th and 31st streets. It contains numerous flower beds, 64 species of trees, 85 species of shrubs, as well as a small pond and stream. Recreational facilities include 3 tennis courts, 2 softball fields, and a large playground.

Annual happenings

In the 1950s/1960s, Berwyn had a large Czechoslovakian population, and to celebrate their heritage the Houby Day Parade was organized in 1968. It coincides with the Fall mushroom harvest.

In the 1960s and 1970s, many Italian families moved into Berwyn. The Maria SS Lauretana Italian-Sicilian Religious Festival is still held near the Morton West H.S grounds during Labor Day weekend.

Ogden Avenue is part of the Historic "Route 66" in Berwyn, and an annual Vintage Car Show that's been taking place in early September since 1990. Ogden Ave. is "shut down" from Ridgeland to Oak Park Ave. and hundreds of car enthusiasts come out to celebrate the spirit of Route 66. More recently, Berwyn has begun to host its annual art car parade called Cartopia. Art car artists from all over the country meet to show off their latest creations, and then a parade through the neighborhood.


  1. ^ "Census 2000: Detailed 60-Page Demographic Profiles for All Counties, Townships, & Municipalities in Northeastern Illinois". Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Retrieved 2008-08-01.  
  2. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  4. ^ Profile of Selected Social Characteristics, Berwyn, Illinois. U.S. Census Bureau. Accessed 2007-04-07.
  5. ^ "Post Office Location - BERWYN." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on April 17, 2009.
  6. ^ Reader's Digest, May 2006, p. 94.
  7. ^ "World’s Largest (Solar) Laundromat” Re-opens!". Illinois Government News Network (State of Illinois). January 21, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-08.  

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Berwyn article)

From Wikitravel


Berwyn is a city in Cook County, Illinois.

Get around

Car, Taxi, Pace Bus Service


Cermak Plaza Pile of Cars; Sears Tower from historical route 66; Ogden Ave.


YMCA for swimming and other recreational activities.


McDonalds, and other fast foods.

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