Many early settlers lived in a part of Cicero that’s now known as Oak Park, while others settled along what would become some of the city’s busiest streets. When the railroads were expanded west of Chicago and eventually connected to Cicero in 1848, it became the first suburb connected directly to the city via train.
Start of a City
Despite the boom the railroads caused, it wasn’t until 1857 that the people of Cicero decided to form a township to collect taxes for public services. More than a decade later, in 1869, the township of Cicero was officially incorporated. Unfortunately, Chicago annexed 11 square miles of the eastern part of Cicero that same year, which cut the population of Cicero in half.
Because Cicero was conveniently located along several railroads, it became a popular spot to build manufacturing and repair companies for the railroad industry. These initial industries were what made Cicero what it is today, in addition to helping form several other communities in the surrounding area.
In 1889, Chicago would again annex a portion of the eastern side of Cicero, reducing the size and population of the town for a second time. In 1899, Chicago annexed one more piece of the city from Cicero. A year later, in 1900, Oak Park separated from Cicero to become part of its town. In 1901, Berwyn also separated from the city of Cicero, dealing another blow.
Despite all these reductions in population, Cicero continued to evolve. In 1904, Western Electric built a telephone equipment manufacturing plant in Cicero that employed 20,000 people. The problem was, the required number of employees was more significant than the population of the town. As a result, the people of Cicero grew by nearly four times over the next 20 years.
For gangsters like Al Capone, people saw Cicero as a place to get away from the Chicago police and operate a quieter criminal enterprise. While this was a storied part of the city in the early 20th century, it would eventually pass with Italian-American organized crime syndicates.
Where it is today
Today, Cicero is a booming city with history sprinkled throughout the city. The streets and buildings in Cicero are a reminder of the hard-working past that made the town one of the best destinations in Illinois. Click here for a list of things to do in Cicero.