Diversity In The Heart and Soul of Chicago

By Maher Kawash

Greektown is filled with people who are proud of their culture.

With almost 300,000 Greeks in the Chicago area, traditions, religious practices, music, and, food are all a big part of the Greece culture.

Greektown has gone from being impoverished to now being a main attraction for many Greek tourists.

Greeks began to settle in America at the end of the 19th century and continued until 1920.

Around 400,000 Greeks migrated to America at that time, mostly from the Peloponnese and the rest of southern Greece.

Mostly all of the immigrants settled permanently in America, in large urban centers such as Chicago, New York and smaller cities scattered across the country reaching as far as California.

“Economies drove Greeks to the U.S,” said Chelsea Trembly, 24, museum educator at the National Hellenic Museum in Greektown.
The Greeks with great enthusiasm celebrate large numbers of religious festivals.

“The Greek culture centers around religion,” Trembly said.

Some major landmarks in Greektown include, Greek Islands, Santorini, Rodity’s, and The Parthenon restaurants.

“The restaurants we have here in Greektown are incomparable to any American restaurants,” said Perry Senos, 76, owner of Rodity’s.

Greektown is a place for many natives to have somewhat of a feeling like being back home in Greece.

“We can still be Greek in all ways of life,” said Lily Kim, 33, editor of Ascene Chicago, an online entertainment magazine.

A big part of the Greek culture is food, which explains why mostly all of Greektown is filled with restaurants.

“We make homemade gyros that many Americans order, along with ‘mishawka’ that my mother taught me how to make,” Senos said.

It is the food, the art, the culture and the people that attract visitors to Greektown.

“It’s getting better all the time. Never got any worse from the beginning,” said Chris Liakouras, 75, owner of The Parthenon restaurant. “We can still be Greek in wall ways of life.”