Berwyn, Illinois facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Berwyn City Hall
"The city of homes"
Location of Berwyn in Cook County, Illinois.
|• Total||3.90 sq mi (10.11 km2)|
|• Land||3.90 sq mi (10.11 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2) 0%|
|• Density||14,664.45/sq mi (5,661.31/km2)|
|Up 4.9% from 2000|
|Standard of living (2009-11)|
|• Per capita income||$20,143|
|• Median home value||$210,200|
Berwyn is a suburban city in Cook County, Illinois, coterminous with Berwyn Township, which was formed in 1908 after breaking off from Cicero Township. As of the 2020 census, the city had a total population of 57,250.
|U.S. Decennial Census
|Race / Ethnicity||Pop 2010||Pop 2020||% 2010||% 2020|
|White alone (NH)||17,592||13,372||31.05%||23.36%|
|Black or African American alone (NH)||3,373||4,622||5.95%||8.07%|
|Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)||66||79||0.12%||0.14%|
|Asian alone (NH)||1,362||1,365||2.40%||2.38%|
|Pacific Islander alone (NH)||2||9||0.00%||0.02%|
|Some Other Race alone (NH)||74||189||0.13%||0.33%|
|Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)||512||888||0.90%||1.55%|
|Hispanic or Latino (any race)||33,676||36,726||59.44%||64.15%|
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
As of the census of 2010, there were 56,657 people and 18,910 households in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 60.48% White, 6.40% African American, 0.59% Native American, 2.52% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 26.61% some other race, and 3.37% from two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 59.44% of the population. The population density was 14,527.4 inhabitants per square mile (5,609.6/km2). Berwyn also has the highest population density (2010) of any township in Illinois. It and Cicero are the only townships in Illinois that have a higher population density than the city of Chicago.
In the 2010 census, there were 18,910 households, out of which 41.9% had children under the age of 18; 45.7% were headed by married couples; 16.5% had a female householder with no male present; and 30.3% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.2% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.99, and the average family size was 3.62.
The age distribution was 27.8% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.1 males.
For the period 2009–11, the estimated median annual income for a household in the city was $50,388, and the median income for a family was $55,946. Male full-time workers had a median income of $42,099 versus $34,989 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,143. About 12.5% of families and 14.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.9% of those under age 18 and 11.8% 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 the 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 8-foot-wide (2.4 m) 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. 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-wide (24 m) 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 Cicero Township to double their land holdings.
Piper and Andrews wanted the railroad to 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 did not know what to name their station so they consulted a Pennsylvania train timetable to 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 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.
According to the 2010 census, Berwyn has a total area of 3.91 square miles (10.13 km2), all land.
In 1956, the Cermak Plaza Shopping Center opened at the corner of Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road. Notable original tenants included J. C. Penney, Walgreens, F.W. Woolworth, Kinney Shoes, Jewel Foods and Fannie May Candies. Cermak Plaza served as the main shopping center for the area until 1975 when the North Riverside Park Mall opened a half mile west on Cermak Road. Current tenants include Meijer, Marshalls, Party City, K&G, Office Depot and Dollar Tree.
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. The Spindle was shown in the movie Wayne's World. It 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 supporters considering the sculpture did not encroach upon the new Walgreens final location. The two topmost cars were placed in storage; as of 2012[update] the Berwyn Route 66 Museum on Ogden Avenue proposes to incorporate them into a reconstruction of the Spindle.
Portions of the 2008 film Wanted with Angelina Jolie were also filmed in Cermak Plaza. Portions of the films A League of Their Own and Adventures in Babysitting were filmed at FitzGerald's Nightclub in Berwyn. It is also mentioned frequently on the television show Svengoolie.
Berwyn has one of the world's largest laundromats, 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. 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.
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 a haven for artists, who enjoy a vibrant and affordable alternative to Chicago.
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 East Avenue is Janura Park, with three baseball/softball diamonds and a hockey/basketball arena.
In 1987, a large new YMCA opened at 2947 Oak Park Ave. The building had an Olympic sized pool, racquet, handball court, a gym, and exercise facilities; including a rehabilitation centre operated with the MacNeal Memorial Hospital.
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 three tennis courts, two softball fields, and a large playground.
Another notable park, Baseball Alley, is right off East Avenue and 29th street stretching all the way to Ridgeland just next to Berwyn's Freedom Middle School. Baseball Alley is home to one of the more popular baseball teams in the neighborhood, Team Dynasty.
The Berwyn Eagles Club is a small venue that plays host as a Bingo Hall as well as an arena for monthly professional wrestling events held by All American Wrestling which is consider to be one of the top independent pro wrestling companies in the Midwest.
Horror host Rich Koz, aka Svengoolie, regularly comments on "beautiful Berwyn" as a long-running gag on his Chicago TV show.
From the 1920s to the 1970s, Berwyn had a large CzechoSlovakian population, and to celebrate their heritage the Houby Day Parade was organized in 1968 and continues to today. 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 High School 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 Avenue is closed to traffic from Ridgeland to Oak Park Avenue, and hundreds of car enthusiasts come out to celebrate the spirit of Route 66. In 2006, 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.
While Berwyn is known as the "City of Homes," it also contains four primary business corridors: Ogden Ave, the Depot District, Cermak Road, and Roosevelt Road. Ogden Ave, a segment of historic Route 66, is an automobile-centered district, and at its peak the road included over a dozen car dealerships in Berwyn. The Depot District, the area around the train station, includes an array of independent shops and restaurants. Loyola MacNeal Hospital, the city's largest employer, is at the center the district. Cermak Road earned the nickname "The Bohemian Wall Street" due to the many 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. The Cermak Plaza Shopping Center, which opened in 1956, is located at the corner of Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road. Notable original tenants included J. C. Penney, Walgreens, F.W. Woolworth, Kinney Shoes, Jewel Foods and Fannie May Candies. Cermak Plaza served as the main shopping center for the area until 1975 when the North Riverside Park Mall opened a half mile west on Cermak Road. Current tenants include Tony’s Finer Foods, Marshalls, Party City, K&G, Office Depot and Dollar Tree. Cermak Road now includes an array of retail shops and restaurants. Roosevelt Road is home to several music venues, including FitzGerald's Nightclub, Wire, and the Harlem Avenue Lounge blues club, and Friendly Tap.
According to Berwyn's 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city were:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||Loyola MacNeal Hospital||2,200|
|2||J. Sterling Morton High School District 201||1,000|
|3||City of Berwyn||550|
|4||Berwyn South School District 100||456|
|5||Berwyn North School District 98||370|
|6||Campagna-Turano Baking Company||300|
|8||Transloading Specialist, Inc.||50|
|9||Citizens Community Bank||35|
|10||Physicians' Record Company||35|
Berwyn is served by two K-8 school districts:
- Berwyn North School District 98 comprises 4 schools: Havlicek Elementary, Prairie Oak Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Lincoln Middle School.
- Berwyn South School District 100 comprises 8 schools: Emerson Elementary, Hiawatha Elementary, Irving Elementary, Komensky Elementary, Pershing Elementary, Piper Elementary, 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 J. Sterling Morton High School East in Cicero. Most areas are west of Ridgeland Avenue and therefore are zoned to Morton West, while those east of Ridgeland Avenue are zoned to Morton East.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago operates two PK-8 schools in Berwyn:
- St. Odilo School
- St. Leonard School
The third one, St. Mary of Celle, closed after the 2004–2005 school year. The building and premises are still used, however. During the great depression, the tuition at St. Odilo was only 75 cents (about $14.9 when accounting for inflation).
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, or Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park, both of which are co-educational. Trinity High School located in River Forest is a school for girls.
Berwyn North School District 98 used to host General Custer Elementary, which was built in 1908 and later torn down in 2000. In 2002, a new state-of-the-art school was built on the same site called Prairie Oak Elementary. Emerson Elementary and Heritage Middle School share a common wall, but are separate schools. When Lincoln Middle School was built in 1928, it never had a cafeteria or library, the library was across the street (now the Berwyn Cultural Center).
LaVergne School, built in 1888, was the first school built in Berwyn, the building had two classrooms with fireplaces. Despite community protest, the 50-year-old building was torn down in 1938. It was replaced with the Lavergne Education Centre which, once an elementary school, is now the headquarters of the Berwyn South School District 100.
Berwyn is served by the BNSF Railway Line, and Metra operates three stations within the city: the Harlem Avenue Station, the Berwyn Station at Oak Park Ave, and the La Vergne Station at Ridgeland Ave.
Until 1952 Berwyn was served by the Douglas branch of the Chicago "L". The line was extended in 1924 to Oak Park Ave, just north of Cermak Rd. In 1952 rail service west of 54th Ave was suspended and replaced by bus. The fairways that once served as the right of way for the "L" still exist as parking lots for shopping along the Cermak avenue corridor.
Berwyn was also briefly served by a steam line that ran along 19th Street at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. A station was located at Ridgeland Ave. The line was built in 1890 by the Chicago and Northern Pacific Railroad under the name Chicago & Southwestern Railroad. It extended from the C&NP mainline at 45th Street south to 16th Street and then to 19th Street. It then turned north on Harlem, returning to the C&NP mainline. The different shaped lots between Austin Blvd and Ridgeland along 19th Street attest to the previous presence of the line.
Bus service within Berwyn and to neighboring suburbs is provided by Pace Bus.
Walkability and carbon footprint
Berwyn residents may be able to lead a low carbon footprint lifestyle, according to The Five Ton Life. This is due to walkable neighborhoods of modestly sized bungalows, and easy access to grocery stores.
- Jeff Adams, football player; born in Berwyn
- Christopher Bielawski, Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher in synthesis and polymer chemistry
- Scarlett Bordeaux, professional wrestling valet in WWE and Ring of Honor; resides in Berwyn
- Richard Christiansen, film and theatre critic, born in Berwyn
- Allan Cox, author and business leader; born in Berwyn
- George E. Dolezal, state representative and judge; served as mayor of Berwyn
- Joey Goodspeed, running back for the Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, and San Diego Chargers; born in Berwyn
- Ozzie Guillén, Major League Baseball player and manager, lived in Berwyn during playing days with Chicago White Sox
- Gary Hallberg, golfer with the PGA Tour; born in Berwyn
- Fred Malek, businessman
- Ricky Mandel, professional wrestler who competed for Lucha Underground
- John J. McNichols, Illinois state representative and lawyer
- Bob Miller, pitcher for Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Mets; born in Berwyn
- Arthur Nielsen, market analyst who founded ACNielsen company
- John Philip Novak, state legislator
- Bob Odenkirk, actor and comedian best known as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul
- Robert Pechous, educator and politician
- Jim Peterik, musician, founding member of The Ides of March and Survivor
- Sondra Radvanovsky, opera singer
- Joseph G. Sevcik, state representative and lawyer; lived in Berwyn and served as the city attorney of Berwyn
- Vlasta Vraz, Czech relief worker after WWII
- Jerry Wainwright, head coach for DePaul University Blue Demons basketball; born in Berwyn
- Dave Wehrmeister, pitcher for San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago White Sox; born in Berwyn
- Bob Will, outfielder for Chicago Cubs; born in Berwyn
- David Huffman Actor
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In Spanish: Berwyn (Illinois) para niños
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