We searched high and low to come up with this list of North America’s Greekest places — neighborhoods, monuments and special places that make the United States and Canada the great mosaics and melting pots of cultures — especially Greek.
While both countries have changed in recent decades due to new immigrant waves, many aspects of “Greek America” remain the same.
Various authors such as Charlie Moskos and Helen Papanikolas have written books — “Greek Americans, Struggles and Successes” and “Small Bird Tell me: Stories of Greek Immigrants,” respectively — in order to document everyday life in the original Greek American neighborhoods of yesteryear.
Here’s our list of North America’s Greekest places.
10) Greektown, Detroit, Michigan
One of the largest tourist destinations in Michigan and the Midwest, Detroit’s Greektown underwent the transformation of a “real” Greek neighborhood with a local church, thousands of Greek families living there and a thriving Greek scene; however, the city fell on tough times and people left in droves for the more prosperous (and safer) suburbs. Still, several businesspeople held on and created a giant casino, hotel and spruced up the Greek flair of the neighborhood — and a few good restaurants still remain.
9) Mt. Olympus Park, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
That’s right — an entire theme park dedicated to the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus… right in… Wisconsin (of all places). Owned and operated by the Laskaris family, Mt. Olympus Park is like a big, fat, Greek Disneyland. All in all it’s a 300-acre outdoor all-year theme park with 44 water slides, seven rollercoasters, a wave pool with nine-foot waves, eight go-kart tracks and numerous kiddie rides with attractions like a life-size Trojan Horse, roller coasters named after Hades, Cyclops, Pegasus and Zeus, Pan’s animal farm and Poseidon’s underwater go-kart track.
8) Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois
Chicago’s Greektown used to be thriving with nightlife, bars and restaurants lining Halsted Street and hundreds of young people waiting in long lines to get into clubs. No bouzoukia or nightlife remain, but a dozen or so Greek restaurants still line the strip along with the National Hellenic Museum to serve as the neighborhood’s anchor. Historically, this was not where the Greeks settled. They actually lived in a neighborhood just to the south of the existing “Greektown” but were moved to make way for the University of Illinois campus and a huge highway that displaced thousands.
7) Nashville Parthenon, Nashville, Tennessee
Yes, a single monument ranks number seven on our list in a city that isn’t really known for that big of a Greek community. The Nashville Parthenon was built for the World Fair in 1897 to the exact specifications of the original. It’s quite surreal seeing it in its full glory, even containing inside the golden and ornate statue of Athena — the original left only in literature and long melted away by invaders as victors’ wartime booty.
6) Greektown, Baltimore, Maryland
Greektown in Baltimore has been home to a thriving Greek American community since the 1930s. Once known simply as The Hill, during the 1980s its residents petitioned the Baltimore City Council to officially change the name of the neighborhood to Greektown. They were successful. This neighborhood is definitely old-school Greek, noted for its many restaurants, authentic coffee houses, bakeries and small businesses of many types. Although it is a diverse community of largely blue-collar people of numerous ethnic backgrounds, it is dominated by Greeks.
5) Park Extension, Montreal, Canada
Native Montreal filmmaker Tony Asimakopoulos successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign to complete (and preserve) the Greek history and culture of this gem of a neighborhood in the French-speaking province of Quebec. Many Greek immigrants settled in the neighborhood from the mid-1960s through the 1980s. In the 1970s nearly 70% of residents were of Greek ancestry, and almost all the businesses along Jean Talon Street between L’Acadie Boulevard and Park Avenue were owned by Greek Canadians. In 1977 there were over 100 Greek businesses, whereas today there are only a dozen left. Four Greek churches remain, catering to the predominantly older Greek residents who still live in the area.
4) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
This museum in New York City has the largest collection of ancient Greek artifacts outside of Greece. A tremendous effort over the years has been placed not only on classical antiquities, but on the collection and preservation of Byzantine artifacts as well, thanks largely to Greek American benefactors Mary and Michael Jaharis, who even have an entire gallery named after them in the museum.
3) Danforth Avenue, Toronto, Canada
Boasting to be the “largest Greek neighborhood” in North America, Toronto’s Danforth Avenue is a mecca for all things Greek in Ontario. Dozens of restaurants, coffee shops and home to one of the largest Greek street festivals in the world — the Taste of the Danforth — make this place so special and so Greek. Like most urban immigrant neighborhoods, the Danforth (as it is called by locals) has seen a decline in its Greek population over the years as second generation children of immigrants flock to the suburbs.
2) Astoria, New York
Affectionately referred to as “Greektown USA,” Astoria is the stuff legends are made of. Tens of thousands of Greeks still call Astoria their home. A reader of The Pappas Post and a local legend in Astoria named “Jimbabway” summed it up this way: “Astoria is Greek to its core. Even the homeless people, the graffiti and criminals are Greek here.” To be fair, many other ethnic groups call Astoria “theirs” and the Greek presence has diminished since its heydays of the 1970s. But you will still spot dozens of Greek-owned shops, Greek Orthodox churches, soccer clubs, social clubs of every shape and color and yes, even the Greek road rage when someone passes you on the street.
1) Tarpon Springs, Florida
Sorry Astoria, but Tarpon Springs takes the cake as the Greekest place in North America. A century-plus continuous Greek presence, the smell of real salt water and quaint fishing boats dotting the harbor with names like “Anastasia” and “Agios Nikolaos” make this Florida fishing village our top choice. Add to this a living presence of sponge fisherman whose parents and grandparents came from far-flung Greek islands with second, third and fourth generation descendants carrying on the traditions of their ancestors. A Greek American U.S. congressman named Gus Bilirakis representing the district is also a huge plus, not to mention a Greek-born mayor named Chris Alahouzos from, you guessed it, Kalymnos.
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Great Choices Greg!!!
Although I loved going to Astoria growing up, I agree Tarpon springs is the Greekist
I’ve been to Astoria but not tarpon springs
Love love Tarpon springs and go there at least twice a year from Chicago. Preferably when its cold in Chicago and I can escape there!
I love my little town <3
Tarpon Springs little Kalymnos
true choice !!
Really? Astoria not #1? :/
Couldn’t agree more. Ridiculous.
NJ and ALL it's Greek diners should get an honorary mention at number 11. 😉
I worked at the L&M Diner in the late ’70s. We were the only food establishment that stayed open 24/7. Greek have always put the shoulder to the wheel so that their kids could go farther in education. Thank goodness the Colonial Diner near East Brunswick and countless others are still open. It’s great going back to relive memories of the proud past!
laughter and heart felt welcome to all pictures love love love Greece my birthplace thank you for the tears and laughter 😀
The Parthenon in Nashville was built for Tennessee's Centennial at Centennial Park in Nashville.
I go to hellas bakery at least 2 times a week. OPA!
What about Washington D.C. The majority of the capitol’s architecture is based on Hellenic style.
Chomedey, Laval, in greater Montreal, has more Greeks per capita than any of these places. Easily one of the greekest places in NA
You forgot the most important of all, Washington, D.C. Where the founding fathers chose to dress the new born republic in the architecture of Greece and Rome. The most important of which is the Abraham Lincoln memorial whose shrine commemorates the most important idea if this nation ….that all men are created equal.
Astoria is by far #1 : Huge Nightlife, Bouzoukia, Great open air cafes, 24 hour greek Tavernas, Shopping, this is Athens in North America. Neighborhood is red hot, better than it used to be. The other places are not even in the same league.
So you’ve been to Tarpon Springs then?
In Tarpon Springs this past Sunday, wish we had more time.
Sounds like a fair list
In terms of Greek cuisine, Astoria has the best and most authentic Greek food by far. As a 1st generation Greek American who has been stationed all over the US and who has also lived in Greece, I can tell you that if you want to taste what authentic Greek cooking is supposed to taste like, go to Astoria. (Honestly, southern US Greek restaurants, a scoop of potato salad on a top of a supposedly “Greek salad” made from iceberg lettuce! What are you thinking…)
Go Tarpon Springs Fl and Baltimore Greek town!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hometown Montral Quebec Canada then Baltimore MD
Go Tarpon and Astoria.
Tarpon Springs in USA and Toronto for CA!
Even our Walgreens has a nickname in Tarpon: Wakgreeks!!!! 90% of the staff is Greek!
Astoria is commercial Greek at best. You want the real thing un commercialized Tarpon is where it's at!
Not to mention that Tarpon Springs also has the highest percentage of Greeks per general population of any place in the U.S! And we still have a few here who can make diving helmets and Greek sponge boats. One correction–the name of that boat is Anastasi (resurrection)!
Im not greek, im Italian but i was born and raised in tarpon and i now live in nyc and there’s nothing like growing up in tarpon greek or not, tarpon is the best by far!!
When I go to Florida, I always have to visit Tarpon Springs. Makes me think of ELLAS, my Home Sweet Home!!!!!
This is great. I lived in Chicago when Halstead Street was still thriving. Glad Greek memory exists. I have been many times in Tarpon Springs. The author should also include the St. Photios National Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida, commemorating the arrival of the first Greeks as a group to the New World in the eighteenth century.
Are you kidding me Chicago's Greek Town is not on here!
Yes it is!
nikoleta its number 8 vre !!!
Chicago Greektown-is maybe 4 blocks long at best Greektown Detroit maybe 8 blocks-Toronto -Greektown on The Danforth-like 3km long with 3-TTC stops (Subway) east from Yonge St.Astoria (Queens) maybe still largest population ! For neighbourhood area-its Toronto-hands down !
ya it is, it's #8
Have a look again Nikoleta Stavrakis…
You should include a pic of the Athena in the Nashville Parthenon.
Hellas bakery is ok…but they don't make the baklavas like I do 🙂
Nice seeing you here Laz! LOL
Prior to Gus Bilirakis as congressman, his father was congressman there for a couple decades, also, Michael Bilirakis. Tarpon Springs is the only Greek-ancestral-majority city in the US, last I checked.
The most Greek town inn N\A is Chomedy Laval Québec where 2nd
& 3rd generation Greeks speak the language unlike most other Greeks across NA where they can’t even say
a sentence in Greek. One must live Greek not just live in a Greek neibourhood.
Great job Thank you so much you did a fine service to the American Greeks like myself who Love Both countries and are Proud of our heritage and contributions to a country that gave us such amazing opportunities. Greeks have been a strong thread in the fabric of this successful melting pot of Nationalities.
Tarpon Springs, in it’s entirety, is the most Greek town in NA.
From our beloved St. Nicholas Cathedra,l to our annual Epiphany celebrations and diving in the waters for the cross, and to our famous working sponge docks with restaurants and shops, and, the closing of the streets in the Docks for dancing and dining along the boats in the waters at the monthly “Night In The Islands” celebration.
Our high school football team is named the Tarpon Springs Spongers! Generations of Greek boys have played on the Sponger field, and on and on….
I also must mention, Spiro Karagianoluloa…. My family has lived in Tarpon Springs since the early 1900’s, and many of the 5th generation of our family speaks Greek before English.
And, Tarpon has Greek School at St. Nicholas, as well as at the public schools in and around Tarpon who offer Greek to children in grades Kindergarten through 12. Offered to non-Greek children, too.
Greeks anywhere are a class act! Happy we are of the heritage! Tarpon lives Greek!
I fell in love with all things Greek when I lived in Detroit a million years ago and visited Greek town before they commercialized it…I now live in Palm Harbor…next to Tarpon Springs! It is absolutely all-consuming Greek! The people, the shops, definitely the restaurants, the festivals, the holy events, the beautiful cathedral, the sponge docks, the amazing names it takes a minute to try to pronounce! lol I love it!
The most Greek like place I know in US is Santa Barbara california. Maybe not in numbers but in similarity to Greece.
I have been to Greek town in Detroit, it's no comparison to the town of Tarpon Springs Spongers
Was there ever any doubt? Tarponite born and raised!
Tarpon for Epiphany in January. Cant do that in Chicago in January. But its such a big tourist attraction its difficult to see anything. But its still awesome. Makes the front page of Tampa/Clearwater newspapers.
Just got back from Florida and have to always visit Tarpon sp. Looking forward to retiring nearby.
That's right Tarpon!!!
Lowell, Massachusetts should be included! Home of the first Greek Orthodox Church built for a congregation (where my parents were married & we were all baptized), home of the DeMoulas grocery chain (my Yiayia used to take me to the old one!), and one of the earliest Greek communities! http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Trinity_Greek_Orthodox_Church_(Lowell,_Massachusetts)
Pleased with that. Astoria is #2. Things have changed from the 80's. Love the amusement park idea Of ancient gods/figures. Hope to see in NYC someday.
We love the Greek culture very, very much!!!
Yes, unfortunately Greektown in Detroit (where my grandfather played his santouri) lost its live music bouzoukias, and with the "white flight" and loss of businesses, the addition of the casino, the family restaurants could not compete. Too bad it was not designated a historical district for the history to be preserved….sigh….
Elayne – My father also was a Santouri and Kymvalon player and I spent most of my young days on Monroe. I miss the International the most.
Love your writing Greg. keep up the good work !
Proud that i grew up in Park Ex…
astoria ny is Greektown USA Central
Our annual Greek Independence Day parade, which draws crowds from not just NYC, but from all over the tri state area speaks for itself. You can’t hold a candle to Astoria and The NYC Greek Community.
HI CLASSMATE. I REMEMBER YOU. ITS DESPINA!!!!! OF NY. ST DEMETRIOS. OF ASTORIA.
Chomedey, Laval. A city north of montreal should be on the list. It’s greektown north. Many residents and businesses are greek. Perhaps after astoria and tarpon springs…the third largest greek population in north america. And I believe number 1 in canada.
No place is more Greek in the USA than Astoria, NY. No other place comes even close. You have over 20,000 Greeks living there.
Indeed those look like pretty Greekish to me! For all my Greek friends, if you want to own a piece of Greek history you are welcome to visit my online store at http://www.hercules-shop.com .. Φιλάκια απο την Ελλάδα!
I know Tarpon Springs VERY WELL! How? I was born and reared there! My family members are still there, and I come home at least once a year, sometimes twice a year. I graduated from our beloved Tarpon Springs High School back in the late 70’s, and still love my Alma Mater. While I happen to a Black man, I proudly tell everyone that I am from a Greek community!
Rochester NY greektown the best
My restaurant Akropolis family restaurant
I grew up in Baltimore Greektown was the best place growing up in the 70’s n 80’s just like we lived in Greece have visited most places on ur list
As many Greektowns see change due high end development Greektown Chicago is still going strong withe the Greek Independence Day Parade, THE TASTE OF GREEKTOWN CHICAGO, the GREEKTOWN CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY, THE CHICAGO 5 K RUN through Greektown, and still the BEST GREEK RESTAURANTS . Come visit our CHICAGO GREEKTOWN. Frank Caputo
I’d make a note of those colleges or universities that offer Modern Greek. Compared with other Modern Languages, Modern Greek lags far behind when it comes to available courses and/or programs.
My mother’s family is from Kalymnos and my mom grew up in Tarpon. I love going back there. It brings back so many warm memories.
My house, by far! We buy Greek ingredients and cook Greek food every day. Tired of ordering a Greek salad with 2 olives and miso grammario feta with vinegraitte dressing. And when I order extra feta, a dozen more kalamatas in my salad and olive oil and a quartered lemon separate to make my own dressing, they consider me a freak! Tempted to go to New York just to eat a Greek meal in Astoria. Γεια σας!!
How about the theater down town Denver, Co?
Nshvilee PArthenon totally debunks the AHEPA KKK canard!
Park Extension is no longer Greek and has not been in over 20yrs…most of the Greeks moved to Chomedy Laval… everything is Greek there.
Proud to be Greek American from first the South Side of Chicago, St. Constantine and Helen to Palos Hills Same Church name . Shout-out to Burbank ill.Many Greek Churches in the Greater Chicago Area particularly Southwest suburbs.Now living in Tarpon Springs , great community and no north pole weather.