Turn left on Oakley and go south to 24th Place. Oakley Avenue with
its restaurants and bakeries forms the heart of Little Italy
on the Lower West Side. Around the turn of the century Italians
from Tuscany displaced Swedish residents in this area. After World
War II, immigrants from the Piedmont region of Italy moved into
the neighborhood. The restaurants along Oakley and Western, which
once served workers in the nearby International Harvester plant,
now draw patrons from the city's North Side and suburbs. Although
local residents are predominantly Italian-American, groups such
as the Po-Piedmont Club testify to the persistence of ethnic identity.
Turn right at 24th Place and go one block west to Western
Avenue (2400 West), then right, going five blocks north on Western
to 22nd Street (Cermak Road). St. Michael Church at 2325
W. 24th Place is one of Chicago's historic Italian Catholic parishes.
Not only did Italians replace Swedes in this neighborhood, but
in 1903 they constructed the superstructure of their church on
the foundation of a former Swedish Methodist Episcopal church!
Turn left on Cermak and go west one mile to Kedzie Avenue
(3200 West). On March 15, 1933 the City Council renamed 22nd Street
Cermak Road after Anton J. Cermak, Chicago's "martyred mayor,"
who had died nine days before. Cermak was one of South Lawndale's
most famous residents, and his influence extended to the city
at large. A former state representative, he was elected alderman
of the old 12th Ward five times and served as Democratic ward
committeeman for twenty years. Cermak's stand against Prohibition
earned him the continuing support of South Lawndale's Czechs,
Germans, and Poles. After serving as president of the Cook County
Board and chairman of the Democratic Party, Cermak was elected
mayor in 1931. His term of office was cut short by an assassin's
bullet meant for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. At the time
of his death, Cermak still lived in South Lawndale, at 2348 S.