Cicero, Illinois

Cicero, Illinois
One of the Cicero's welcome signs on the intersection of Cicero avenue and Cermak road (22nd Street)
Cicero, Illinois
County: Cook
Township: Cicero
Incorporated: Town, 1869
President: Larry Dominick
ZIP code(s): 60804
Area code(s): 708
Population (2000): 85,616
Change from 1990: up 26.96%
Density: 14,645.2/mi² (5,650.7/km²)
Area: 5.8 mi² (15.2 km²)
Per capita income: $12,489
(median: $38,044)
Home value: $125,322 (2000)
(median: $120,200)
Demographics (2000)[1]
White Black Hispanic Asian
48.3% 1.1% 77.4% 1.0%
Islander Native Other
0.0% 0.9% 44.7%

Cicero is an incorporated town in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 83,891 at the 2010 census. Cicero is named for the town of Cicero, New York, which in turn was named for Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman statesman and orator.

Originally, Cicero Township occupied six times its current territory. Weak political leadership and town services resulted in cities such as Oak Park and Berwyn voting to split off from Cicero, and other portions such as Austin were annexed into the city of Chicago [1].

Al Capone built his criminal empire in Chicago before moving to Cicero to escape the reach of Chicago police.[2] The 1980s and 1990s saw a heavy influx of Hispanic (mostly Mexican and Central American) residents to Cicero. Once considered mainly a Czech or Bohemian town on 22nd Street (now Cermak Road), most of the European-style restaurants and shops have been replaced by Spanish-titled businesses.Cicero also has seen a revival in its commercial sector, with many brand-new mini-malls and large retail stores. New condominiums are also being built in Cicero.

Cicero has long had a reputation of government scandal. Most recently, Town President Betty Loren-Maltese was sent to federal prison for misappropriating funds [2]. She was well liked by retired, long-term Cicero residents, but was continually challenged by younger Hispanic opponents before her indictment.[citation needed]

Cicero was taken up and abandoned several times as site for a civil rights march in the mid-1960s. The American Friends Service Committee, the Rev. Martin Luther King, and many affiliated organizations, including churches, were conducting marches against housing and school de facto segregation and inequality in Chicago and several suburbs, but the leaders feared too violent a response in Chicago Lawn and Cicero. Eventually, a substantial march (met by catcalls, flying bottles and bricks) was conducted in Chicago Lawn, but only a splinter group, led by Rev. Jesse Jackson, marched in Cicero.[3]



According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.8 square miles (15 km2), all land.

Cicero used to run from Harlem Avenue to Western Avenue and Pershing Road to North Avenue; however, much of this area was annexed by Chicago.


  • St. Mary of Czestochowa, a Neogothic church built in the so-called 'Polish Cathedral' style along with the sculpture of Christ the King by famed sculptor Professor Czesław Dźwigaj, who also cast the monumental bronze doors at St. Hyacinth's Basilica in Chicago. The church's other claim to fame is as the site of Al Capone's sister Mafalda's wedding in 1930.
  • J. Sterling Morton High School, East Campus, also known as Morton East High School, was built in 1894. The original school was destroyed by fire in 1924, and the current building was constructed. Located at 2423 S. Austin Blvd, Morton East serves residents of Cicero, Il.
  • Chodl Auditorium, located inside J. Sterling Morton High School, East Campus, was built in 1924 (completed 1927) to replace the 1200 seat auditorium which was destroyed by fire. The auditorium was originally a dual-purpose room, serving as a gymnasium for students, and was originally built for this purpose. In 1967 the school stopped using the auditorium as a gymnasium. Chodl Auditorium is among the largest non-commercial proscenium theatres in the Chicago Metropolitan Area and is listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Unity Junior High School, located behind the Pink Line's 54/Cermak station, Unity Junior High was opened in 2003 and is the largest middle school in the entire country. Divided into two campuses, the east and the west, Unity teaches 7th and 8th grade, with 4 floors on each side. Since it's the only junior high school in District 99, students from all District 99 elementary schools come here. From here, graduates go to the Morton Freshman Center.
  • Hawthorne Works Tower, one of the original towers of the enormous Western Electric manufacturing plant that once stood east of Cicero Avenue, is still located behind the Hawthorne Works Shopping Center near the corner of Cermak Road (22nd Street) and Cicero Avenue.


On the south side of Cicero, there were two racetracks. Hawthorne Race Course, located in Cicero and Stickney, is a horse racing track still in operation. Just north of it was Chicago Motor Speedway at Sportsman's Park, which was formerly Sportsman's Park Racetrack (for horse racing) for many years. This Sportsman's Park facility is now closed, acquired by the Town of Cicero and currently being demolished. A high-end shopping center (Fountain Square) is slated to be constructed on this site.

Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 85,616 people, 23,115 households, and 18,099 families residing in the town. The population density was 14,645.2 people per square mile (5,650.7/km²). There were 24,640 housing units at an average density of 4,214.9 per square mile (1,626.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 48.27% White American, 1.12% African American, 0.89% Native American, 0.97% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander American, 44.71% from other races, and 4.01% from two or more races. 77.44% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race, with 68.4% of Mexican descent.[4]

The top five non-Hispanic ancestries reported in Cicero as of the 2000 census were Polish (4.7%), Irish (3.7%), German (3.7%), Italian (3.0%) and Czech (2.3%).[5]

There were 23,115 households out of which 50.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.7% were non-families. 17.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.70 and the average family size was 4.18.

As of 2011 59% of residential units were owned properties, 41% were rentals. There were 2643 vacant homes. The average age of home properties was 55 years.[6]

The age distribution was 34.6% under the age of 18, 12.7% from 18 to 24, 31.9% from 25 to 44, 13.6% from 45 to 64, and 7.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 105.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.9 males. Of the total population, 51.4% are male and 48.6% are female.

The median income for a household in the town was $42,044, and the median income for a family was $47,883. Males had a median income of $27,424 versus $21,398 for females. The per capita income for the town was $12,489. About 13.2% of families and 15.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.5% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.

This median income may be influenced by the fact that Cicero is a factory town. As of 1999, about a quarter of the city contained one of the greatest industrial concentrations in the world. There were more than 150 factories in 1.75 miles. Communications and electronic equipment, printing presses, steel castings, tool and die makers' supplies, forging and rubber goods.


Most of Cicero is in Illinois' 4th congressional district; the area south of the railroad at approximately 33rd Street is in the 3rd district.[7]

The United States Postal Service operates the Cicero Post Office at 2440 South Laramie Avenue.[8]


Cicero is served by Cicero Elementary School District 99, and comprises 17 schools making it one of the largest public school districts outside of Chicago. Elementary students, depending on residency attend the following schools: Burnham (K-5), Cicero East (4-6), Cicero West (K-3), Columbus East (4-6), Columbus West, Drexel (K-6), Goodwin (K-6), Liberty (K-3), Lincoln (K-6), McKinely (K-3), Roosevelt (3-6), Sherlock (K-3), Warren Park (K-3), Wilson (K-6), Woodbine (K-3), Unity East Junior High (switches from 7-8), and Unity West Junior High (switches from 7-8). High school in their freshman year enter the Freshman Center and then continue high school at Morton East of the J. Sterling Morton High School District 201.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago operates three PK-8 schools in Cicero:

From 1927 until 1972, Cicero was also the home of Timothy Christian School. This caused a great deal of racial unrest in the city in the 1960s.[citation needed]

In addition to grade schools, Cicero is also home to Morton College.

Gangland crime in Cicero

One of many "No Gangs" signs in Cicero.

Cicero had a few homegrown street gangs such as 12 Street Players, Noble Knights, and Arch Dukes. However, these original gangs began to fade away as Hispanics moved in the town, some bringing with them gang members from the city of Chicago. Gang members from Chicago then created their own chapters of their gang within the town. During the 90's, Cicero's gang problem was huge, which then the town had about 17 to 20 gangs. Gang activity has decreased over the years along with the town's homicide rate which are mostly gang related.

Known street gangs


External links

Coordinates: 41°50′43″N 87°45′36″W / 41.845232°N 87.759933°W / 41.845232; -87.759933

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