Top 15 Historical Photos in Berwyn – A Look to the Past

From its inception, Berwyn, IL has been evolving towards the city that we recognize today. Along the way, there were many phases that passed and some that are hard to remember. Luckily we have compiled many historical pictures of Berwyn that show just how much progress has been made. In this post we hope to show Berwyn from its birth to the not-so-distant past.

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This is one of the earliest pictures of Berwyn that we could find. It is of Ogden Avenue in 1909, before the area was developed.

You can see in the pictures that the area was very abundant with trees and was pretty rough.

It’s hard to imagine that the Ogden Avenue we know today started off with humble beginnings like this.

(Photo courtesy of the Berwyn Historical Society.)

The earliest version of the Berwyn Public Library that we have been able to find. This photo was taken in 1926 and the location was 2214–16 Oak Park Ave.

For more information about the history of Berwyn Public Library click here.

(Photo courtesy of the Berwyn Historical Society)


Here is the historical Parthenon Theatre. This Theatre was located at the Northwest corner of Cermak Road and Ridgeland Ave. We estimate this picture to be from around the 1920s.

Today this location is a Bank of America branch. It has a mosiac commemorating the Parthenon Theater on the outside of the bank building.

(Photo credit to Berwyn Historic Preservation Commission.)


Here we have commuters huddled around the oven to warm up at the Berwyn Depot Station. The picture was taken in 1929 as you can probably tell by their attire.

(Photo courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)


Here is Saint Mary of Celle School and Parish in 1931 when the church was completed. The church is located at 15th and Wesley Ave and is now known as Saint Mary of Celle Family Center.

It is fascinating just how little has really changed at this location. Its present incarnation is almost identical to the one here.

(Photo Credit to the SMC Website)

Here is a vintage Vesecky’s Bakery ad taken when they still had the Stanley Ave Location.

Today Vesecky’s operates a single location at 6634 Cermak Road.

(Photo Credit to Berwyn Historic Preservation Commission.)

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In 1940 this street car crashed into what was Durdil’s Bakery on Roosevelt Road.

This collision what was what finally ended the use of streetcars between Austin Ave and Harlem Ave.

(Photo Credit to the Chicago Tribune.)

This is a picture of what was The Escape Restaurant. This restaurant was located on Harlem Ave & 19th St. We do not have a year but based on the architecture we can guess around 1940-1950.

Today, this site is home to VCA Berwyn Animal Hospital.

(Photo Credit to Berwyn Historic Preservation Commission.)


This is a picture of J.C. Penny when it first opened in Cermak Plaza in 1956. This was on the south side of the shopping center.

When J.C. Penny left in 1975 to join the North Riverside Mall, Service Merchandise took its place for a time. Today, Meijer Marketplace takes up a large portion of the southern space.

(Photo Credit to Pleasant Valley Shopping.)

In 1957 Sears Robuck & Co opened up a small space on the eastern side of Cermak Plaza, giving the plaza the L shape it has today.

Eventually this became Circuit City and today is the site for Office Depot.

(Photo Credit to Pleasant Valley Shopping.)



Richard’s Restaurant and Lounge and was located at 30th St & Harlem Ave. This photo was taken in 1961.

Today, the site is home to Lalo’s Restaurant.

(Photo Credit to Berwyn Historic Preservation Commission.)


Here is an exterior shot of the Berwyn Police Station in 1962. This was at the Police Department‘s old home at 6647 W. 26th Street.

This is now Serenity Park.

(Photo Credit to the Chicago Tribune.)

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Berwyn Lumber Co. Fire

This is a picture taken of the fire that broke at the Berwyn Lumber Company in 1977.

The building was located at Oak Park Avenue and 31st Street.

Today this is the Berwyn Pav YMCA.

(Photo Credit to the Chicago Tribune.)

Jumping ahead many years we have the McDonald‘s on Cermak & Harlem that opened in 1983.

Take particular note of the way in which this McDonald‘s was built. It was made to appear as if it, and its roof, were floating. This was a particular design choice given to this McDonald‘s while it was being built.

McDonald‘s has since redesigned its stores, which has reduced the floating effect.

(Photo Credit to Newsweek.)

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Our last item on this list: The Spindle.

In 1989 The Spindle, created by Dustin Shuler, was designed to fill space in the Northern part of the Cermak Plaza.

The Spindle was torn down in 2008 despite a huge community-wide effort to stop it.

It its place is now a new, free standing, Walgreens location.

(Photo Credit to the Chicago Tribune.)



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