Czech Village in Cedar Rapids brings history alive!

Murals in the Czech Village
Murals in the Czech Village

In the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids there is a neighborhood with a bit of ethnic history. The official Czech Village of Cedar Rapids shares how the immigrants settled in the area. “Cedar Rapids is a city that is home to thousands of Czech, Moravian and Slovak immigrants and their descendants since the turn of the Century. Many more Czechs homesteaded and settled the farms and small towns surrounding Cedar Rapids. The Czech Village is a restored section of what was the shopping district for many of those immigrants.”

While visiting the area for a press trip working on an art article for Illinois Senior News &Times I discovered that the term Bohemian refers to much more than a decorative term or attitude, I learned that Czechoslovakians were known as Bohemians.

The Czech immigrants arrived in Cedar Rapids around 1852 to work in local packing plants, and soon a “Little Bohemia” was established in the southwest sector of the city. The area is now called Czech Village.

Inroads have been made in restoring the area. There are some eclectic shops, the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library and one spot we loved, Sykora Bakery where we stopped for a delectable treat.

Earlier that same day we dined at the amazing Sauce which sits on the edge of Czech Village. While out and about I stopped in a neat spot Forget Me Not Antiques and Gifts where I bought Czech buttons that the owner placed in an earring set, so I now have my very own “Bohemian” jewelry!

Many of the places we stopped at were pretty quiet on the weekday afternoon we were there. Same goes for Newbo Market housed in a former industrial space, the area has become a place where local food vendors and artisans sell their wares. It is an incubator for new businesses. Closed on Tuesday afternoon, we missed the activity there, but could see the potential.

With the museum offering a great place to tour, a few cool diners and a great bakery, the area has a bit of special sights like the beautiful mural we spied while out and about. Of course, the area would not be complete without mentioning the Grant Wood Statues that are part of the Overalls All Over project. Statues from Wood’s American Gothic are all over the city in celebration of Wood’s 125th birthday.

Art, culture and a little Bohemian Love round out the Czech Village and Newbo market area. Head out on a weekend and see what gives!