History of the Greeks in Baltimore

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The history of the Greeks in Baltimore dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Baltimore is home to one of the largest Greek American communities in the United States. The community is centered in the Greektown and Highlandtown neighborhoods of East Baltimore.

Demographics[edit]

In 1920, 699 people in Baltimore spoke the Greek language.[1]

In 1940, 1,200 Greek-Americans lived in Baltimore.[2]

The Greek community in the Baltimore metropolitan area numbered 16,764 as of 2000, making up 0.7 percent of the area's population.[3] In the same year Baltimore city's Greek population was 2,693, 0.4% of the city's population.[4]

As of September 2014, immigrants from Greece were the twenty-fourth largest foreign-born population in Baltimore and the Greek language was the ninth most commonly spoken language other than English.[5]

History[edit]

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, April 2013
John Sarbanes and Sheila Dixon, cutting ribbon at 2007 Baltimore Greek Independence Day Parade.

19th century[edit]

The first Greeks in Baltimore were nine young boys who arrived as refugees of the Chios Massacre, the slaughter of tens of thousands of Greeks on the island of Chios at the hands of the Ottomans during the Greek War of Independence.[2]

Immigrants from Greece first started to settle in Baltimore in large numbers during the 1890s.[6]

20th century[edit]

Early Greek settlers established the Greek Orthodox Church “Evangelismos” in 1906 and the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in 1909.[6]

By the 1920s, a vibrant yet small Greek community had been firmly established. The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was built to serve this growing community.[7]

The peak of the Greek migration to Baltimore was between the 1930s and the 1950s.[8] The Greek community gained its first political representation in 1959, when Peter Angelos became the first Greek-American to be elected to the Baltimore City Council.

The Greek population saw another smaller surge in numbers after the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which allowed for the immigration of thousands of Greeks. This wave of Greek immigrants to Baltimore ended by the early 1980s. During the 1980s the Greek residents of the neighborhood that was then known simply as the Hill successfully petitioned the city government to rename the neighborhood as Greektown. By that time the Greek community was 25,000 strong.[9]

21st century[edit]

While there is still a strong Greek-American presence in Greektown and Highlandtown, the population of the Greek community has been declining. The population is aging and many have moved out of the original Greek neighborhoods. The Latino population is increasing rapidly as the Greek population decreases.[10][11][12] The majority of newcomers to the neighborhood are now Latino.[13]

Culture[edit]

Samos Restaurant, Greektown, December 2014.

There are a number of Greek-American restaurants in Baltimore, such as Ikaros, The Acropolis, The Black Olive, Samos, and Zorba's. There is also an annual Greek Folk Festival held at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.

Most Greek-Americans in Baltimore belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, though a small minority have been Greek Jews. Most Greek Jews immigrated to the city during the 1950s. The majority came from Thessaloniki, with the remainder mostly coming from Athens and Patras. The Greek Jews of Baltimore are primarily Sephardi.[14]

Baltimore historically had a Greek mafia presence. A two-year FBI investigation into a cocaine ring run by the Greek mafia in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. resulted in charges being filed in August 1987.[15]

Notable Greek-Americans from Baltimore[edit]

Spiro Agnew, the 39th Vice President of the United States (1969–1973), serving under President Richard Nixon, and the 55th Governor of Maryland (1967–1969). He was the first Greek-American to hold these offices.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carpenter, Niles (1927). Immigrants and their children, 1920. A study based on census statistics relative to the foreign born and the native white of foreign or mixed parentage. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. p. 380. Retrieved 2014-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b American Guide Series (1940). Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State. United States: Federal Writers' Project. OCLC 814094. 
  3. ^ "Table DP-1. Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000". 2000 United States Census. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  4. ^ "Social Statistics Baltimore, Maryland". Infoplease. Retrieved 2014-12-05. 
  5. ^ "The Role of Immigrants in Growing Baltimore: Recommendations to Retain and Attract New Americans". WBAL-TV. Retrieved 2014-10-31. 
  6. ^ a b "Greek historical highlights of the past 100 years". Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  7. ^ Olesker, Michael (2001). Journeys to the Heart of Baltimore. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 76. ISBN 0801867541. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  8. ^ "A Brief History of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church". St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  9. ^ Moskos, Charles C. (2009). Greek Americans, Struggle and Success. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p. 156. ISBN 0-88738-778-0. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Baltimore's Greektown". USA Today. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  11. ^ "El Nuevo Baltimore". Urbanite Baltimore Magazine. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  12. ^ "Baltimore shows how Hispanics' influence grows". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  13. ^ "Greektown develops Latin flavor". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  14. ^ "The Greek Jews in Baltimore". Yvelia Online Community. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  15. ^ "'Greek Mob' Figure Surrenders To Fbi". Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bazzarone, Ann Korologos. Death and diaspora: Greek American acculturation in Salt Lake City, Utah and Baltimore, Maryland, George Mason University, 2007.
  • Caraveli, Anna. Scattered in foreign lands: a Greek village in Baltimore, Baltimore: Baltimore Museum of Art, 1985. ISBN 0912298596.
  • Icon Films. A village in Baltimore. : images of Greek-American women, Washington, D.C. : Icon Films, 1981.
  • Kiladis, Mary Bahadouris;Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation (Baltimore, Maryland). Seventy-fifth anniversary, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Baltimore, Maryland, 1906-1981, Baltimore, MD : Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, 1981.
  • Moses, Doreen. A Village in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. : D. Moses, 1981.
  • Prevas, Nicholas M. Gone but not forgotten: a definitive history of the Greek section at Woodlawn Cemetery, Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, 2001.
  • Prevas, Nicholas M. History of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Baltimore, Maryland, Baltimore, Md. : J.D. Lucas Print. Co., 1982.
  • Prevas, Nicholas M. House of God...Gateway to Heaven: A Centennial History of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Baltimore, Maryland, Baltimore, Md. : Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation., 2007.
  • Prevas, Pauline; Angelos, Steven. Oral history interview, 1975.

External links[edit]