OUR GREEK STORY…
ANTIQUITY, MODERNITY AND DESTINY
WXYZ-TV7 DECEMBER 8th 2007
Detroit’s Greek-American community started developing in the late 19th century, and really started booming with the high amount of immigrants coming from Greece and Cyprus after 1912. A big symbol of this community is the area of Detroit known as “Greektown”, an area of about two blocks in Downtown Detroit that today contains Greek restaurants, a pastry shop, dance clubs, a Greek Orthodox Church, and a casino. Today a majority of the patrons in Greektown are people of all races and nationalities. During the first half of the 20th century, Greektown looked very different from what it is today. Greektown was a very private place for Greeks, which at one time contained coffee houses where men would be at whenever they weren’t at work. Greektown wasn’t very commercial or as popular for non-Greeks as it is now, but more of a private hangout for Greek men.
The life of the people in the Greek community revolved very much around the church. The church was a place for Greek families to come together and support each other, while Greektown was more of a place for the men to meet and come together in the coffee houses, which later became more heterogeneous. The church became a place for the Greeks to come together not only in a spiritual way, but also in a familial way. The church became a large extended family for every single Greek person. This family was created by the creation of many organizations within the church. There was an organization for everyone, from the Greek school and Sunday school for the children, to the senior citizens and men’s clubs for the older generation of Greeks. The Church was transformed from just being a place of worship and prayer, to being the parent (i.e. the priest) of a family who would bring its members together and provide and care for them. There are many photographs chronicling the various church services and different community groups and events that were based out of the church, though there haven’t been many written documents chronicling the history of the churches, or the community as a whole.
The Greeks were discriminated against when they came to America, so the only ones they could rely on were each other. That is why there were so many community organizations within the Greek community. In a sense, Greeks had to support each other, or else they wouldn’t have been able to survive economically, mentally, or emotionally.