An Oasis of Greek Culture

Mia Mastandrea

An Oasis of Greek Culture

“Opa!”

This three-letter word is not only a simple acclaim of happiness but also a snapshot that captures all aspects of the culture of Greektown.

Greektown has been morphed over time to become the up and running hotspot for amazing food and warm company.

The town accurately displays the architecture of Greece through classic columns and replicas that can be found throughout the town.

Several religious stores can be spotted as well. The Greek Orthodox Church unifies the people of Greece, which includes the schools and businesses.

Yet overall, the town is mostly crowded with restaurants and markets.

When the location changed in 1967, it shrunk in size but still captures the same essence from when the first Greeks arrived in the 1840s.

The Parthenon restaurant, the oldest food establishment in Greektown, has held its ground for 45 years, and owner Chris Liakouras is a legend.

He has watched the town improve from being practically a slum. Not too long ago the living conditions were horrible and the housing was cheap.

Liakouras knows Greektown better than anyone else. When he moved from Megapolis, Greece in 1955, he was the first person to serve gyros in the states. Liakouras is never shy to point out that he invented the nationwide popular flaming cheese dish, saganaki.

It’s guaranteed that he would show anyone, within seconds of the topic, the picture he has up on the front wall for all to see, when his hair was caught in sparks.

The National Hellenic Museum offers the full experience to grasp Greek culture.

“Chicago has one of the largest Greek populations in the country,” said Chelsea Trembly 24, museum educator.  “There are about 300,000 who identify themselves as Greek.” Chicago has the third largest population of Greeks in the world

The Greek culture reigns on through another generation, with both new and old traditions. The streets of Greektown continue to represent where it all began.

“We can still be Greek in all ways of life,” said Liakouras.

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