Deep in the American interior lies the city of Cedar Rapids, which is the second largest city in the state of Iowa and at the same time the county seat of Linn County. According to existingcountries, the city is located on both banks of the Cedar River, about 160 km east of the metropolis Des Moines. Mays Island is located on the Cedar River, where you will find the city center, the so-called Downtown, with all organizations, city hall and government institutions. Cedar Rapids is thus one of the few American cities that has government offices located on an island.
An interesting feature of this city is that of the 100,000 inhabitants who live here, about a third have Czech ancestors. This predominantly agricultural state became the target of a large group of immigrants from Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. They came here with a vision of a better life and a brighter tomorrow. Entire families left everything they had in their homeland and undertook a very difficult, painful and long journey to the new world. Most of them settled in the city of Cedar Rapids, where a very large Czech community still lives today. Descendants of these emigrants attend the still-active Sokol, a Czech summer school for children, a literary club, and even have their own music group.
The center of Czech life is concentrated in the Czech Village on 16th Avenue. While walking down the street, you will come across Czech shops, restaurants serving sirloin, goulash and dumplings, pubs and a hotel. The Czech bakery Sykora Bakery and confectionery is nothing special either. In 1995, the new Czech and Slovak National Museum was opened here with the participation of Presidents Clinton, Havel and Kováč. The museum maps the history of the settlement of this area by compatriots and also informs visitors about the development of our country and its changes over the last 100 years. The museum has several permanent exhibitions representing our land, among the definitely unmissable parts is the collection of Moravian folk costumes. Otherwise, there are also collections of books, glass and other objects related to settlement.
There is a small shop in the museum where you can buy traditional Czech glass, porcelain and other souvenirs typical of a distant homeland. It is interesting, however, that even though more than 150 years have passed since the first Czech settlement, even today you can still hear Czech here or see Czech inscriptions. Today’s youth are the tenth generation of original immigrants, it is not certain how long it will be possible to keep the Czech language alive.
You can find Czech roots in the city of Cedar Rapids at almost every turn. Not far from the stone bridge decorated with Czech lions is Sokol Park. Right in the center of the Czech Village is the famous Zindricks Czech Restaurant, which serves very exotic food for Americans.