Illinois : Safety by City
- Arlington Heights
- Crystal Lake
- Des Plaines
- East St Louis
- Fairview Heights
- Granite City
- Mount Prospect
- Oak Lawn
- Rock Island
- Tinley Park
You’ll never be more excited to do laundry on vacation than in Berwyn, Illinois.
The dense suburb is just 10 miles west of downtown Chicago.
Berwyn is split up into four districts:
- Roosevelt Road: Entertainment area
- Cermak Road: Mix of dining & shopping with a diverse vibe
- Depot District: Walkable area near hospital, restaurants, and shops
- Ogden Avenue: Otherwise known as historic Route 66
Off of Cermak Road, you’ll find the World’s Largest Laundromat.
That’s the real name, not just a description.
Even people who live here and have laundry machines still opt to come here to do laundry.
This neighborhood is shaped like a rectangle on its side and ranges from fancier homes on the south side to duplexes on the north side.
Berwyn is very diverse with 63% of its residents being Latino/Hispanic.
Each district offers a little something special, but this isn’t a place with a plethora of tourist attractions.
That makes total sense because there isn’t a single hotel in Berwyn.
This is a great place to visit for an afternoon or a night out, but it’s not going to be a place where you’ll fill an entire week’s vacation.
Warnings & Dangers in Berwyn
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk in Berwyn, but it's far from the safest Chicago suburbs. There are some real anomalies in the 2020 crime data we will dissect and discuss.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Metra trains and PACE busses service Berwyn. The Chicago Transit Authority stop in Berwyn is under construction as of mid-2022, but that service will be available soon as well. You can easily get a taxi or rideshare here. There's low risk with any option as long as you are taking basic personal safety steps as you would in any big city area.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, but it wasn't always this way. In 2020, there were 68% fewer thefts than in 2016. It wasn't even a pandemic fluke because the crime had been trending down since then. You still should protect and secure your personal items and only bring what you need with you.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, large hail, blizzards, and heavy snow accumulation are just a few of the things that pose a threat to Berwyn. An average day is going to have a low risk, but if there's any kind of weather watch, the risk goes up to medium. Stay weather aware while visiting the Chicago area
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk and I'm only 60% sure that's a true statement. Here's why - the robbery rate was at a decade-long high in 2020, with 88 robberies. The previous year there were 40. The only other year to be anywhere near 88 robberies was in 2010 when there were 74. That number might be a fluke because of the desperation created by the pandemic, but 2021 data hasn't been released as of this report. I can't remember the last "safe" city I researched that had that many robberies, but it's worth noting that it could be a higher risk, or it could just be a pandemic-fueld anomaly.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Being this close to Chicago there's medium risk. Berwyn itself isn't a target, but terrorists have tried several times to hit Chicago and the strong Homeland Security presence has prevented it.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The typical phone number spoofing scams have been reported here, but nothing that impacts visitors. There was a man busted in 2020 for offering jobs to people with a fake $400 application fee. It's a good reminder that if something seems off or too good to be true, walk away.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk for women, but it's more like an average risk. The sexual assault rate is just under the national average. There are a lot of bars and restaurants here where you can have a great time, but it's critical to remember the rules of bar engagement - like keeping a napkin over your drink when it's on the table and never walking around after dark by yourself.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Berwyn's Water Department hasn't updated the required annual water quality report since 2019, so I can only answer this with outdated information. As of the 2019 testing, there were no violations in any of the water rests and there was a low risk when using it. The city does address some complaints of the smell and taste of the water on its website, saying, in part, "The most common reasons for taste and odor problems with drinking water include chlorine that is added to the water to kill bacteria; Non-toxic algae, bacteria, and tiny fungi. Different algae cause different tastes and odors, for example a grassy, swampy taste. The tiny fungi can cause an earthy musty taste; and Metallic tastes can come from iron rust in iron pipes. Odor poses no health impact and is strictly aesthetic."
Safest Places to Visit in Berwyn
It’s a good idea to visit all of the different districts while you’re here because each brings a little something to Berwyn’s community table.
Route 66 is always going to be a popular spot in the communities it runs through.
Don’t be surprised if you hear the rev of engines while you’re here, because this road has brought the automotive industry in Berwyn to this area.
If you can look past the car dealerships and repair shops, you’ll see a unique toy and train store, and a comic store known for having every kind of game you can imagine.
There are several restaurants including two pizzerias here too, and Chicago is known for its deep-dish pizza.
Roosevelt Road is best visited at night because that’s when the music starts heating up and the drinks start flowing.
This is the nightlife section of the city and there are plenty of places to choose from.
Just be sure to get a taxi or rideshare to get home safely if you’ve been drinking.
Cermak Road is where you’ll find some of the best Mexican food of your life, and you can also explore the Czech Cultural Center in honor of the large population of Czech’s that used to live here.
There are more of the national franchise along this stretch as well.
Be sure to stop into the World’s Largest Laundromat while you’re visiting.
They offer free pizza on Wednesday nights.
The Depot District is where you go to get outta town, as this is home to the Metra line and PACE bus.
Before you go, enjoy this walkable area with its locally owned series of shops and cafes.
Just west of Berwyn is the North Riverside Park Mall, which is a traditional American shopping mall with a variety of stores and dining options.
Places to Avoid in Berwyn
Crime mapping shows the higher crime numbers are south of Cermak Road.
This surprises me because while all of the areas is a dense population, it’s the northern side that has more people because there are more duplexes.
My investigative gut kicked in and I found the answer.
Because there are more property crimes in the nicer neighborhoods, that’s driving up the crime rate.
There really isn’t a bad part of Berwyn that is too dangerous to drive through or visit, but after dark, in any community, you should stick to the main roads and have good directions to get to your destination.
One great thing about Berwyn’s layout is that most streets are north/south or east/west in perfect lines, so even if you make a wrong turn, you can get easily back on your route.
Since there are no hotels in Berwyn, be very careful if you’re renting a home here.
A legit landlord should make it really easy to show you the license to rent the home from the city.
You should also never wire money ahead of time to secure a property.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Berwyn
- If you’ll need to park overnight in Berwyn, you can’t park on the street without getting a non-resident parking pass from the city. A book of 15 passes will cost you $5, while a parking ticket illegally is going to cost $100. Visit city hall or the police department to buy your parking passes.
- Gang violence can happen in Berwyn and one of the best ways for a visitor to help with gang messages is to report graffiti. The Berwyn Graffiti Hot Line is (708)795-5628. You won’t have to help clean up the mess, but letting the city know can get volunteers out to repair the damage as soon as possible.
- If it snows while you’re in Berwyn and more than two inches accumulate, you cannot park your car on the street anywhere for at least 24 hours. You have to wait until the road is plowed before you can park there again. Even if 24 hours have elapsed and the street still hasn’t been plowed, park on a street that has been so you don’t get sideswiped by a plow.
- Another way you can help keep Berwyn safe is through the “Report Blight” form on the city website. This covers everything from seeing a rat infestation to a weed-covered yard or a vacant building in disrepair. You do have to leave your contact information, but that’s just so an officer can call you back to get more detailed information if needed.
- Berwyn would be a beautiful city to see by bicycle, but some streets don’t have bicycle lanes or sidewalks. There is a bicycle lane map you can research on the city website, and learn about basic safety steps to take when riding there. Even without a bicycle lane on the main road, you should stay as far right as you can and obey all the laws of vehicles, like stopping at red lights and stop signs.
- There isn’t a street in Berwyn that has a speed limit over 35 miles per hour. Most streets are 25 miles per hour, even main roads. Take your time and be patient while driving here. With so many people in a small area, you don’t want to risk a child or pet running in front of your car while you’re speeding.
- If you’ll be using public transportation, get a Ventra card. This payment platform covers Metra, Pace, and Chicago Transit Authority (L Train), and keeps you from having to pull your wallet out at stops.
- The Berwyn Police Department sends out weekly bulletins of crimes and crime trends in the community. You can find this on the police department’s website under “Crime Statistics.” This is a great way to keep up on the crime closer to your time of visit as I can only provide you with 2020 information at this time.
- It’s really going to help to know conversational Spanish here with such a large Latino population. If Spanish is your native language, you’ll find a lot of resources come in English and Spanish in this community.
- Motorized skateboards are not allowed anywhere in Berwyn. You can ride a traditional longboard, but nothing with a motor.
So... How Safe Is Berwyn Really?
For such a congested and populated area, it’s really safe considering how bad the crime rates could be.
Most categories of crime are half the amount of national and state averages.
Here’s how the risk breaks down in Berwyn:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 351
- Sexual Assault: 1 in 3013
- Robbery: 1 in 650
- Theft: 1 in 199
Berwyn is a tight-knit community and definitely more urban that the traditional suburbs of a city.
You’re going to see a lot of people on the sidewalk or sitting in traffic, as there’s not much breathing room.
If you are looking for a more spread-out suburb, you should explore one of the North Shore or Southland communities as there are large natural preserves throughout the region.
Berwyn seems to perfectly get the respect of its own history, showing pride in its diverse community, and offering a unique experience that isn’t cookie cutter to every other suburb out there.
It’s just not as safe as some other communities nearby, but it’s also nowhere near one of the most dangerous.
How Does Berwyn Compare?
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- Visas - Visas are used to get in and out of the country, so you won't need it while you're visiting Berwyn or going between the Chicago-area cities. It can take up to four months to get a visa, so start that process early as you can't get into the country without it.
- Currency - You'll only use the U.S. Dollar here and I hope I've done a good job of showing you how many things can be purchased online or on your mobile device. It's really not safe to carry around cash because you never know when a thief is looking for a crime of opportunity.
- Weather - You'll get all four seasons here, for better and for worse. Pack warm layers from late fall through early spring, and summers are going to be humid. You'll want light, loose-fitting clothing. There is also a lot of walking to do on Berwyn so bring shoes that won't give you blister or make your feet ache. Function over fashion is very important in walkable cities like this.
- Airports - O'Hare International Airport is the biggest airport in the metro area and it's about 30 minutes north. Midway International is just 20 minutes south, but that airport is one of the top for flight delays. Both options will get you a lot of direct route options.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great idea when visiting a place where the weather can fluctuate so much. Make sure you know how much your car insurance covers on rental cars if you're choosing that option here. Hail damage can happen here, so you want to make sure you're protected from that expense if you're visiting during severe storm season.
Berwyn Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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