Visit Berwyn, IL’s website for events and news: Why Berwyn?
A brief history of Berwyn, IL
The City of Berwyn’s development began in 1856 when the south side of town began to be acquired and divided into lots. Developers invested heavily by building many roads and importing thousands of maple, ash, cedar, poplar, and pine trees, which were planted throughout the area that was bounded on the east by Ridgeland Avenue, on the west by Harlem Avenue, on the north by 31st Street, and by Old Plank Road (now Ogden Avenue), on the south. At that time, the only mode of transportation between the this community and the City of Chicago was by horse and buggy along Old Plank Road. After a short period, the planks became warped are worn. In 1872, the Plank Road was renamed Ogden Avenue in honor of Chicago’s first mayor, William Butler Ogden. Portions of the road were bricked over by 1900 to accommodate the increasing traffic. In 1920, it was paved for smooth car travel. From 1926 to 1976, Ogden Avenue was designated as U.S. Route 66, connecting Chicagoans to Los Angeles.
After World War I, fast food restaurants sprang up along Route 66, offering cheap and speedy meals for people on the go. Ogden Avenue is still home to many restaurants that were popular during the heyday of the Mother Road.
Ogden Avenue was designed for automobiles when the car was king of American culture. A wide street lined with drive-through businesses and convenient parking served both travelers and residents. Drive-in restaurants, service stations, and auto dealerships sprang up on Ogden to cater to a mobile society.
In its heyday, the strip boasted over a dozen car dealerships. Today, Berwyn continues to celebrate its car culture with events like the Berwyn Rt66 Car Show held annually on the first Saturday after Labor Day.
Links to attractions and/or historical sites that may be of interest to travelers:
Berwyn Route 66 Museum
7003 W Ogden Ave
Berwyn’s Route 66 Museum is a collection of memorabilia, artifacts and information about the history of Berwyn’s Route 66. Take a journey through our architecture, art, and culture from the early 20th century to today.
Berwyn’s Route 66 Kiosk
North side of Ogden Avenue at Lombard Avenue
A new information kiosk was installed to serve as a gateway marker and hub for Route 66 information in Berwyn. Across the street, make a pit stop at Paisans Pizzeria & Bar to experience great food in a family-friendly atmosphere.
Berwyn’s Toys & Trains
7025 W Ogden Ave
Berwyn’s Toys & Trains, a family-owned, toy and model train store, has been one of Berwyn’s treasured assets for over twenty years. The business stocks over 20,000 toy brands, including vintage toys, as well as an amazing selection of model trains. The store features a toy train landscape with interactive buttons that can be enjoyed by children and adults. From the street, the building’s classic aluminum storefront has helped support Route 66’s architectural heritage.
Berwyn’s Historic Route 66 Scenic Byway Wayside Exhibits
Berwyn has placed four exhibits on Ogden Avenue to celebrate its heritage as one of the first eastern suburban communities along the “Mother Road.” Berwyn’s exhibits feature the origin of the Ogden corridor and its early history, its first auto-oriented “fast food” restaurants, and its automobile-based economy and car culture. Exhibits are located: (1) adjacent to the parking lot of the LaVergne Education Center located at 3401 S. Gunderson, (2) South side of Ogden Avenue and Maple Avenue, (3) North side of Ogden Avenue and Wenonah Avenue, and (4) North side of Ogden Avenue and Clarence Avenue.
The Berwyn Rt66 Car Show has fun for the entire family. The event is held annually in September on the first Saturday after Labor Day from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm. Stroll down Historic Route 66 and see over 500 vintage and custom cars, trucks and motorcycles. Live music, demonstrations of automobile flamethrowing and a cacklefest of dragsters thrills spectators! Admission is free.
Ogden Top & Trim
6609 W Ogden Ave
Ogden Top & Trim is a third generation business founded by Frank Nesladek in 1919. It has continued to serve the automotive enthusiast for nearly a century. The range of cars that have won major awards with their interiors has shown them to be one of the winningest and diversely capable upholstery shops in the nation.
Oldest White Castle on Route 66
7155 W Ogden Ave
Opened on January 14, 1939, this is the oldest White Castle still operating on Historic Route 66. Here you could get a 5 cent slider to eat at the counter or take some along on the open highway. White Castle was the first food chain in the nation to standardize buns, burgers, and buildings. Spotless buildings, interiors, and uniforms reassured customers that the food was clean and pure in an era when people feared poor meat packing sanitation.
Berwyn Historical Society
1401 Grove Ave
The Berwyn Historical Society is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, protect and promote architectural and historic resources in Berwyn through advocacy and education.
Reel Art Collectibles
6727 W Stanley Ave
Just around the corner from Route 66, Reel Art is Chicago’s largest collectibles dealer of movie posters, classic comics, vintage toys and rare books.
Links to lodging and restaurants that may be of interest to travelers:
Berwyn Development Corporation
3322 S Oak Park Avenue, Berwyn, IL 60402
The Berwyn Development Corporation (BDC) markets Berwyn regionally and nationally as a prime business and leisure destination. We are here to promote Berwyn’s energy and culture to visitors and residents and to create unique development opportunities for business. The BDC is a public-private partnership with the City of Berwyn that provides economic development and Chamber of Commerce services to all segments of the Berwyn community. We are a not-for-profit membership organization that serves over 300 businesses and individuals. The BDC continually strives to develop new programs, services and events that promote the community. Follow the BDC at facebook.com/WhyBerwyn.