Once known as the “Bohemian Wall Street” due to the large number of savings and loans located here, Berwyn’s Cermak Road is now an eclectic mix of retail and restaurants including El Nuevo Vallarta Sports Bar & Grill and green energy powerhouse Cermak Plaza.
Through the decades, the heart of town has always been 22nd Street, more commonly known as Cermak Road. The road is named in honor of Anton J. Cermak, a famous Czech statesman and former mayor of Chicago. Berwyn’s Cermak Road is now an eclectic mix of retail establishments, restaurants, and green energy powerhouse Cermak Plaza. Once famous for the now-defunct Spindle, known affectionately as the “car-kabob” featured in the Wayne’s World movie, the shopping center on the southeast corner of Cermak Road & Harlem Avenue has undergone significant façade and parking lot upgrades and added green elements including LED lighting and wind turbines for clean energy. In 2010, the plaza installed twelve wind turbines in the parking lot. Part art form and part function, the 35-foot tall installations generate up to 2,500 kilowatt hours of power to Cermak Plaza’s tenants. Families with Czech and Bohemian roots, together with many Italian-Americans, Greeks, Lithuanians, Poles, Yugoslavians and Ukrainians, have been joined in recent years by Latinos, African and Asian Americans who now call Berwyn home. As Berwyn grows in the 21st century, its traditionally hard-working, middle-class, mostly blue collar families, who were admittedly conservative in their outlook, are joined by young, professional families and a growing population of LGBTQ residents. Today, Berwyn and Cermak RD keeps its proud Czech history alive through the Chicagoland Czech American Cultural Center.