Berwyn is very proud of our Czech history. We have been known as the center of Czech life and culture in the Chicago area. At one time, Berwyn’s population was approximately 60% Czech. Through the decades, the heart of town, from a retail standpoint, has been 22nd Street, more commonly known as Cermak Road. The road honors the legacy of Anton J. Cermak, a famous Czech statesman and former mayor of Chicago. For a period Cermak Road earned the nickname “The Bohemian Wall Street” due to a large number of savings and loans that served the famously-frugal Czech residents of the area. 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.”
Families with Czech and Bohemian roots, together with many Italian-Americans, Greeks, Lithuanians, Poles, Yugoslavians, and Ukrainians, have been joined in recent years by Latino, 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.