Czechs (and Slovaks) in Chicago

Czechoslovak-American Chicago

Restaurants Stores and Businesses News Media
Films Chicago Trivia Links


These ones below I know personally and like:

Klas Restaurant (north side of street between Central and Austin)
5734 W. Cermak Rd.
Cicero, IL 60804
Tel: (708) 652-0795
Note: Nice Bavarian-like exterior and interior

Moldau (north side of street)
9310 Ogden Ave.
Brookfield, IL 60513
Tel: (708) 485-2155
Note: Family atmosphere, off the beaten path

New England Inn
6855-59 W. Irving Park Rd. (extra parking at Newcastle).
Chicago, IL 60634
Tel: (773) 685-7155
Note: All customers seem Czech

L&J Lounge (really a bar, not so special)
6513 Cermak Rd.
Berwyn, IL
Tel: (708) 788-9570

Dumpling House - SORRY, CLOSED DOWN
4109 Harlem Ave. (east side of street around Ogden Ave)
Stickney, IL 60402
Tel: (708) 484-6733
Note: Nice looks, no beer! I guess that's why it closed?

These other ones I got from a friend:

Bohemian Crystal
639 N. Blackhawk Dr.
Westmont, IL
Tel: (708) 789-1981

Corner Restaurant
9201 Broadway (Eight Corners)
Brookfield, IL
Tel: (708) 485-5660

Czech Plaza
7016 Cermak Rd. (across from Cermak Plaza)
Berwyn, IL
Tel: (708) 795-6555 Open: Daily 11 am - 8 pm

Little Europe
9208 Ogden Ave.
Brookfield, IL
Tel: (708) 485-1112

Pilsner Restaurant - I fear this one closed down
6725 Cermak Rd.
Berwyn, IL (708) 484-2294

Many more, especially in the suburbs, to be found at the Czech Embassy website.

Stores and Businesses

I recently heard about some Czech stores and video rentals in Chicago; most carry books, newspapers, magazines, music CDs, games, Karlovarske oplatky, chocolate, phone cards, airline tickets, etc.

Czech Tempo Thanks go to Mark Pisaro.
6040 W. Irving Park Rd.
Chicago, IL
Tel. (773) 685-9030
Fax (773) 685-9490

Second Store/Cafe
6710 W. Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL
Tel. ?

Bohemia Trading Corp. Czech bakery!! plus all the above.
3113 N. Central Ave. (next to it is a Slovak eatery)
Chicago, IL
Tel. (773) 205-5380

Moravia Kvit
3213 1/2 S. Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL
Tel. (773) 545-3595

Czechland Bookstore
3416 N Harlem
Chicago, IL 60634
Tel: (773) 889-2530

6621 W. Archer Ave. (between Nashville and Natoma)
Chicago, IL
Tel. (773) 788-0520
Fax (773) 788-0545
Open M-Th 12pm-10pm, F-Sun 10am-8pm

5608 W. 63rd St. (at Central)
Tel. (773) 582-6604
Fax (773) 582-6605
Open M-F 6am-9pm, Sat 6am-8pm, Sun 10am-8pm

Then there are Polish stores that run Czech and Czech-like foods, e.g., beer and Becherovka ;-)
5275 S. Archer Ave. (east of Cicero, south side of street)
Chicago, IL
Tel.: (773) 735-5334

6601 W. Irving Park (between Narraganset and Oak Park, parking and entrance from the south)
Chicago, IL
Tel.: (773) 427-1606

3256 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL
Tel.: (773) 736-1212

Outside Chicago: Little Europe Tavern
(Becherovka et al.) southeastern end of Racine, WI, just off the I-94
Tel: ?

Czech TV, Radio and Newspapers

Czech TV1 (RealVideo)

WCEV 1450 AM, Sundays 9-10 am and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 9:30pm

WPNA 1490 AM - Czech Line, Sundays 11-12pm, tel: (773)-213-4327

Czechoslovak Daily Herald - Denni Hlasatel
5906 W. 26th Street
Cicero, IL 60804-3102
Fax (708)863-1893

Czech Films in Chicago

Several Czech films have recently made it into mass distributions; Kolya (1997) won an Academy award, Divided We Fall (2000) was nominated and Dark Blue World (2001; follow the link for a review and showtimes in Chicago) was close to a nomination. Facets pays close attention to Czech and Eastern European artistic films (rumor also has it that the Facets director is Czech ;-))

Chicago Czech-American Trivia

Q. What is the old Czech/Bohemian neighboorhood in Chicago?
A. Pilsen, the neighborhood originally bounded by 16th Street, Halstead, 20th Street (Cullerton) and Ashland, is named after a west Bohemian town, which also gave its name to Pilsner Urquell or any other "pilsner" beer. Before WWII, Pilsen was home to the nation's biggest Bohemian-American settlement. Several Czech churches remain in the neighborhood (St. Procopius, St. Adalbert), some others have closed down (St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas) Poles moved into this area in the early twentieth century. Mexican families moved into Pilsen in the 1950s.

Q. Where did the Czechs/Bohemians go after moving out of Pilsen?
A. They moved west and somewhat south to Berwyn/Cicero, along Cermak Avenue. A Catholic church (St. Mary on the Mount), Sokol meeting hall, Masaryk School and a few restaurants (see above) remain from that era but Czech-Americans have mostly moved further out west into the suburbs. Read more about Pilsen and Czech neighbourhoods on theVranys and Viseks of Chicago page by Paul Dierks.

Q. Why are you intermixing Czech and Bohemian? Which one is correct?
A. Bohemia is a historical region, a kingdom since the Middle Ages, now forming the bigger western part of the Czech Republic (see map). The Czech nation lives predominantly in Bohemia and Moravia (eastern and smaller part of the Czech Republic). Older generations of Czech immigrants call themselves Bohemian.

Q. What is bohemian about the Bohemians?
A. The second meaning of Bohemian (Merriam-Webster a : VAGABOND, WANDERER; especially : GYPSY b : a writer or an artist living an unconventional life usually in a colony with others) originated in 19-century France, where the word was first used to describe Gypsies (coming to France from the East, perhaps via Bohemia) and later by authors and playwrights to refer to the disaffected and impoverished young artists and students of Paris. Sources: La Boheme, The France of Victor Hugo.

Q. Where in Hyde Park is Masaryk's Memorial Monument?
A. On the east end of Midway, close to the Metra tracks. Sculpted by Czech Albin Polasek, the Monument's bronze horseman represents the knights of Bohemian legend who slumber inside the Blanik Mountain ready to ride out and help in times of distress. The horseman also recalls a real-life defender of his country: Thomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), the philosopher turned political leader who was Czechoslovakia's first president. Whether as statesman or as professor, Masaryk never shied away from hard issues; as a philosopher, his first major work was entitled Der Selbstmord als sociale Massenerscheinung der modernen Civilisation (Suicide as a mass phenomenon of modern civilization). T. G. Masaryk's name has also a special significance to the University of Chicago. He lectured here in 1903 and 1908 and was honored here during his triumphant visit in Chicago in 1918. (Source: M. Rechcigl's Czech-American Page).

Q. Where on The University of Chicago campus is this Masaryk's portrait?
A. In the Classics Cafe, in the second, south-facing room. A little plaque to the right explains Masaryk's relationship to the University of Chicago and how the painting got there (The donor was Tomas Bata, son of the founder of the originally Czech Bata shoe company , now headquartered in Toronto).

Q. Did any other Czech president visit The U. of Chicago?
A. Yes! The second Czech president, Edvard Benes lectured at the U. of C. in 1939. (Source: The Library of Congress)

Q. Wasn't Anton J. Cermak, the famous Chicago mayor, Czech?
A. Yes! Born in 1873 in Kladno, Bohemia, now the Czech Republic, he was brought to America by his family as a child. In 1931, he was elected mayor of Chicago. In February of 1933, Mayor Cermak traveled to Miami, Florida to meet with President-elect Franklin Roosevelt. They arrived on February 15th to be in a parade. The parade car moved slowly down the street as President-elect Roosevelt and Mayor Cermak smiled and waved. The car stopped and President-elect Roosevelt gave a speech while sitting on the back of the car. A man named Guiseppe Zangara pushed through the crowd. He fired five shots at the President-elect. The bullets hit four people and Mayor Cermak. The mayor fell out of the car and called out "The President, get him away!" But Roosevelt ordered his car to stop and that Mayor Cermak be put in with him. President-elect Roosevelt held Mayor Cermak all the way to the hospital. Mayor Anton J. Cermak died three weeks later, on March 8, 1933. His body was taken back to Chicago and buried in the Bohemian National Cemetery. (Read more at M. Rechcigl's Czech-American Page).

Q. How about Antonin Dvorak and Chicago?
A. Dvorak came to Chicago for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Here he met one of his significant student, Cook, an African-American. Dvorak then spent the summer in Czech-settled Stillville, Iowa. Within five days of his arrival, Dvorak composed his "American" String Quartet. At the end of the summmer, he completed his most famous work, "The New World Symphony". He also composed other works there, and left enough to merit a little museum in the building that was his home (now Billy Clocks Museum). Stillville still has a Czech kitchen and a Czech-style church (St. Wenceslaus, where Dvorak played the organ for daily mass during his stay in the village). (Source: Chicago Tribune Travel, Minnesota Public Radio).

Q. Why is Antonin Dvorak's music so popular in the States?
A. Dvorak lived in the States between 1892 and 1895, teaching and writing some of his best known works, including the Symphony in E Minor, "From the New World". Dvorak was called to New York to direct the newly instituted National Conservatory but was also given the daunting task of creating a distinctly American musical character for a young nation boundlessly confident in its resources, but still looking to Europe for a sense of identity. When he pronounced that there already was a source - "based on Negro melodies" - he not only sparked controversy but invigorated the burgeoning community of African-American musicians. He inspired - and was inspired by - his African-American composition students. The Czech composer also found inspiration in the music of Native Americans. None of Dvorak's students became a notable composer, though they went on to teach and influence a generation of American composers: Gershwin, Copland, Ellington. (Source: PBS).

Q. Any famous Slovaks in Chicago?
A. Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan was commander of the Apollo 17 lunar mission and the eleventh man to walk on the moon. Cernan was born in Chicago, in 1934, to a Czech mother and a Slovak father. After the end of the manned lunar missions, he acted as senior U.S. negotiator in discussions with the Soviet Union on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Visit the Cernan Earth and Space Center, on the campus of Triton College, River Grove, IL. (Source: The Library of Congress)

To be expanded...


Go back to my homepage
Last modified: Tue Sep 24 19:13:56 CDT 2002