9 Things You Might Not Know About Greektown
1. Greektown Arose From The Great Chicago Fire
Greektown started its formation in the 1840s as a result of Greeks hearing about the different opportunities available for work here in the United States. When the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 occurred, there was a flood of Greeks who swarmed the area, and played a crucial part in rebuilding the city of Chicago from the ground up.
2. By 1927 Greektown Was Generating $2 Million/Day For The City
In the flood of business that came to America during the development of Greektown, 10,000 Greek businesses were established. As a result, Greek business owners alone were responsible for driving aggregate sales of up to $2 million per day in revenue for the city. And remember: This was during The Great Depression!
3. The Delta
Greektown is situated within the west side of Chicago. However, the current location along Halsted Street dates back to the 1960s. Chicago’s original Greek neighborhood was known as “The Delta,” a specific triangular area formed around 3 streets: Halsted, Harrison and Blue Island Streets. This area is where the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago is now located.
4. The University of Illinois’ Impact on Greektown
When the University of Illinois chose to place itself on the west side of Chicago during the 1960s, there was a large portion of Greektown that was forced to go elsewhere. They settled in to areas such as Ravenswood, Lincoln Square (Greektown North), Woodlawn, South Shore, Pullman, and other nearby suburbs. However, there is still a very active Greek community right on Halsted Street in the heart of Greektown.
5. Greektown Chicago Was The Primary Unification Point For All Greek Immigrants
Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Greek immigrants weren’t just coming to America—they were coming to Chicago. As a result, the city became the primary unification point for all Greek culture in the United States. Chicago was, truly, the first “Greektown” in the nation.
6. Gyros, Saganaki, and more…
Have you ever tried traditional Greek gyros, or Saganaki (flaming cheese)? These specialities are delicious, to say the least. And if you can’t go one day without having one, you will want to thank Greektown and its settlers for coming to America. Both Gyros and Saganaki were introduced in this country by Chicago Greektown restaurants. Without them, all the delicious food they brought to the states would never have existed. And if you haven’t tried them yet, HERE is a link to some of Greektown’s most popular restaurants.
7. The National Hellenic Museum
Right here in Greektown is one of the most diverse and artistic Greek museums in the country. Located at 333 S. Halsted St, the National Hellenic Museum has activities and exhibits for both families and friends, and does a magnificent job showcasing authentic Greek culture and art.
8. A Taste of Greece – Chicago Festival
The Taste of Greece is a Chicago street festival that celebrates Greek culture! This annual party held on Halsted Street features all things Greek—from ethnic foods to traditional music performed live by Greek musicians. If you enjoy wine tastings or any sort of gastronomy, Taste of Greece is for you! Click HERE to learn more about how you can become involved!
Most people don’t know that Greektown Chicago and the West Loop is a short 8 block walk from The Loop. There are also several bus routes, as well as a train stop nearby, making the neighborhood extremely accessible.