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Greek American

Famous Greek Americans
George Stephanopoulos
George Tenet
Total population
0.4% of the U.S. population (2010)
Other estimates: 3,000,000[2]
Regions with significant populations
mostly Greek Orthodox

Greek Americans (Greek: Ελληνοαμερικάνοι, Ellinoamerikani) are Americans of full or partial Greek ancestry. About 1.3 million American people are of Greek descent,[1] although there are estimates that raise this number to 3 million,[2] and 321,144 people older than five spoke Greek at home in 2010.[13]

Greek Americans have the highest concentrations in the New York City,[3][14][15] Boston,[4] and Chicago[5] regions, but have settled in major metropolitan areas across the United States. In 2000, Tarpon Springs, Florida was home to the highest per capita representation of Greek Americans in the country (11%). The United States is home to the largest overseas Greek community, ahead of Australia, Cyprus, Albania, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • 19th century 1.2
    • 20th century 1.3
    • 21st century 1.4
  • Demographics 2
    • Top ten metropolitan areas by number of people of Greek ancestry (2010-2012 American Community Survey) 2.1
    • States by number of people of Greek ancestry (2000 Census) 2.2
    • Communities by percentage of people of Greek ancestry 2.3
    • Communities by percentage of those born in Greece 2.4
  • Atlantis newspaper 3
  • In popular culture 4
  • Greek nationality 5
  • Organizations 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Early history

A young Greek immigrant on Ellis Island, New York City, late 19th century

The first Greek known to have been to what is now the United States was Don Theodoro, a sailor who landed on Florida with the Narváez expedition in 1528.[16][17] He died during the expedition, as did most of his companions.

In 1592, Greek captain Juan de Fuca (Ioannis Fokas or Apostolos Valerianos) sailed up the Pacific coast under the Spanish flag, in search of the fabled Northwest Passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic. He reported discovering a body of water, a strait which today bears his name: the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which today forms part of the Canada – United States border.

About 500 Greeks from Smyrna, Crete, and Mani settled in New Smyrna Beach, Florida in 1768. The colony was unsuccessful, and the settlers moved to St. Augustine in 1776, where their traces, except for the St Photios Greek Chapel, were lost to history.[18][19]

19th century

Scientific American Supplement in June 1897: "The Battle of Velestino - The Greeks bringing in their wounded from the fighting line".
Greek-American volunteers in the Balkan Wars

The first significant Greek community to develop was in New Orleans, Louisiana during the 1850s. By 1866, the community was numerous and prosperous enough to have a Greek consulate and the first Greek Orthodox Church in the United States.[20] During that period, most Greek immigrants to the New World came from Asia Minor and those Aegean Islands still under Ottoman rule. By 1890, there were almost 15,000 Greeks living in the U.S.

Immigration picked up again in the 1890s and early 20th century, due largely to economic opportunity in the U.S., displacement caused by the hardships of Ottoman rule, the Balkan Wars, and World War I. Most of these immigrants had come from southern Greece, especially from the Peloponnesian provinces of Laconia and Arcadia.[21][22] 450,000 Greeks arrived to the States between 1890 and 1917, most working in the cities of the northeastern United States; others labored on railroad construction and in mines of the western United States; another 70,000 arrived between 1918 and 1924. Each wave of immigration contributed to the growth of Hellenism in the U.S.

Greek immigration at this time was over 90% male, contrasted with most other European immigration to the U.S., such as Italian and Irish immigration, which averaged 50% to 60% male. Many Greek immigrants expected to work and return to their homeland after earning capital and dowries for their families. Two factors changed attitudes and facilitated permanent immigration: 1) Loss of homeland: In 1885, Eastern Rumelia, an Ottoman autonomous territory with a Greek minority[23][24] became de facto part of the Principality of Bulgaria (de jure from 1908). Then, in 1923, a population exchange between Greece and Turkey resulted in the flight of some 1,500,000 Greeks from Anatolia, Eastern Thrace and Pontus. In both cases, these Greeks were de jure denaturalized from those homelands and lost the right to return and their families were made refugees. 2) The first widely implemented U.S. immigration limits against Europeans were made in 1923, creating an impetus for immigrants to apply for citizenship, bring their families and permanently settle in the U.S. Fewer than 30,000 Greek immigrants arrived in the U.S. between 1925 and 1945, many of whom were "picture brides" for single Greek men.[25][26]

20th century

Jim Londos, popular wrestler in US and Greece
Archbishop Iakovos and Vice President Agnew at White House

The events of the early 1920s also provided the stimulus for the first permanent national Greek American religious and civic organizations. Greeks again began to arrive in large numbers after 1945, fleeing the economic devastation caused by World War II and the Greek Civil War. From 1946 until 1982, approximately 211,000 Greeks emigrated to the United States. These later immigrants were less influenced by the powerful assimilation pressures of the 1920s and 1930s and revitalized Greek American identity, especially in areas such as Greek-language media.

Greek immigrants founded more than 600 diners in the New York metropolitan area in the 1950s through the 1970s. Immigration to the United States from Greece peaked between the 1950s and 1970.[27][28] After the 1981 admission of Greece to the European Union, annual U.S. immigration numbers fell to less than 2,000. In recent years, Greek immigration to the United States has been minimal; in fact, net migration has been towards Greece. Over 72,000 U.S. citizens currently live in Greece (1999); most of them are Greek Americans.

The predominant religion among Greeks and Greek Americans is Greek Orthodox Christianity. There are also a number of Americans who descend from Greece's smaller Sephardic and Romaniote Jewish communities.

21st century

In the aftermath of the Greek financial crisis, there has been a resurgence of Greek emigration to New York City since 2010, accelerating in 2015, and centered upon the traditional Greek enclave of Astoria, Queens.[29] According to The New York Times, this new wave of Greek migration to New York is not being driven as much by opportunities in New York as it is by a lack of economic options in Greece itself.[29]


Number of Greek Americans
Year Number
Distribution of Greek Americans according to the 2000 census
The New York City Metropolitan Area, including Long Island, New York, and Bergen County, New Jersey, is home to the largest Greek population in the United States.[3][14]
US President George W. Bush welcomes Archbishop Demetrios to the White House to celebrate Greek Independence Day and to recognize the contributions of Greek-Americans to American culture in March 2007
Greek-American building architecture

Top ten metropolitan areas by number of people of Greek ancestry (2010-2012 American Community Survey)

States by number of people of Greek ancestry (2000 Census)

  1. New York 159,763
  2. California 125,284
  3. Illinois 95,064
  4. Massachusetts 78,176
  5. Florida 76,908
  6. New Jersey 61,510
  7. Pennsylvania 56,911
  8. Ohio 53,547[34]
  9. Michigan 44,214
  10. Indiana 32,319

Communities by percentage of people of Greek ancestry

The US communities with the highest percentage of people claiming Greek ancestry are:[35]

  1. Tarpon Springs, Florida 10.40%
  2. Campbell, Ohio 9.30%
  3. Lincolnwood, Illinois 7.60%
  4. Plandome Manor, New York 7.50%
  5. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 7.20%
  6. Allenwood, New Jersey 6.60%
  7. South Barrington, Illinois 6.00%
  8. Palos Hills, Illinois 5.40%
  9. Nahant, Massachusetts 5.30%
  10. Alpine, New Jersey; Holiday, Florida; and Munsey Park, New York 5.20%
  11. East Marion, New York 5.00%
  12. Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan and Grosse Pointe Township, Michigan; Palos Park, Illinois; and Upper Brookville, New York 4.90%
  13. Harbor Isle, New York 4.70%
  14. Lake Dalecarlia, Indiana 4.50%
  15. Barnum Island, New York 4.40%
  16. Peabody, Massachusetts 4.30%
  17. Livingston Manor, New York and University Gardens, New York 4.20%
  18. Oak Brook, Illinois 4.00%
  19. Dracut, Massachusetts 3.90%
  20. Harwood Heights, Illinois and Oyster Bay Cove, New York 3.80%
  21. Fort Lee, New Jersey; Hiller, Pennsylvania; Ipswich, Massachusetts; Long Grove, Illinois; Oakhurst, New Jersey; and Yorkville, Ohio 3.70%
  22. Broomall, Pennsylvania; Garden City South, New York; Norwood Park, Chicago, Illinois (neighborhood); and Plandome, New York 3.60%
  23. Flower Hill, New York; Manhasset, New York; Monte Sereno, California; Norridge, Illinois; Palisades Park, New Jersey; Palos Township, IL; and Windham, New York 3.50%
  24. Morton Grove, Illinois; Terryville, New York; and Wellington, Utah 3.40%
  25. Banks Township, PA (Carbon County, PA); Harmony, Pennsylvania (Beaver County, PA); Plandome Heights, New York; and Watertown, Massachusetts 3.30%
  26. Niles, Illinois and Niles Township, Illinois 3.20%
  27. Groveland, Massachusetts 3.10%
  28. Albertson, New York; Caroline, New York; Graeagle, California; Lynnfield, Massachusetts; Marple Township, Pennsylvania; and Stanhope, New Jersey 3.00%
  29. Foster Township, Pennsylvania; Manhasset Hills, New York; West Falmouth, Massachusetts; Winfield, Indiana; and Worth Township, Indiana (Boone County, IN) 2.90%
Dancing in Greek Fustanella at a folk festival in White Springs, Florida

Communities by percentage of those born in Greece

The U.S. communities with the largest percentage of residents born in Greece are:[36]

Greek speakers in the US
^a Foreign-born population only[40]
  1. Horse Heaven, Washington 3.8%
  2. Tarpon Springs, Florida 3.2%
  3. Palos Hills, Illinois 3.1%
  4. Harbor Isle, New York 3.1%
  5. Campbell, Ohio 3.1%
  6. Lincolnwood, Illinois 2.7%
  7. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 2.5%
  8. Bedford Park, Illinois 2.3%
  9. Twin Lakes, Florida 2.3%
  10. Holiday, Florida 2.1%
  11. Great Neck Gardens, New York 2.1%
  12. Norridge, Illinois 2.0%
  13. Palos Park, Illinois 1.9%
  14. Barnum Island, New York 1.9%
  15. Munsey Park, New York 1.8%
  16. Foxfield, Colorado 1.7%
  17. Cedar Glen West, New Jersey 1.7%
  18. Raynham Center, Massachusetts 1.6%
  19. Broomall, Pennsylvania 1.6%
  20. Flower Hill, New York 1.6%
  21. Alpine, New Jersey 1.6%
  22. Millbourne, Pennsylvania 1.6%
  23. Niles, Illinois 1.6%
  24. Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan 1.6%
  25. East Marion, New York 1.6%
  26. West Falmouth, Massachusetts 1.6%
  27. Golden Triangle, New Jersey 1.5%
  28. Palisades Park, New Jersey 1.5%
  29. Garden City South, New York 1.5%
  30. Harwood Heights, Illinois 1.5%
  31. Watertown, Massachusetts 1.5%
  32. Morton Grove, Illinois 1.5%
  33. East Ithaca, New York 1.4%
  34. Fort Lee, New Jersey 1.4%
  35. Saddle Rock, New York 1.4%
  36. Oakhurst, New Jersey 1.4%
  37. Plandome Manor, New York 1.3%
  38. White Lake, North Carolina 1.3%
  39. Old Brookville, New York 1.2%
  40. Plandome Heights, New York 1.2%
  41. South Barrington, Illinois 1.2%
  42. North Lakeville, Massachusetts 1.2%
  43. Terryville, New York 1.2%
  44. Jefferson, West Virginia 1.2%
  45. Ridgefield, New Jersey 1.2%
  46. East Norwich, New York 1.2%
  47. Skokie, Illinois 1.1%
  48. Arlington Heights, Pennsylvania 1.1%
  49. Pomona, New York 1.1%
  50. Spring House, Pennsylvania 1.1%
  51. Hickory Hills, Illinois 1.1%
  52. Cliffside Park, New Jersey 1.1%
  53. Friendship Village, Maryland 1.1%
  54. Kingsville, Maryland 1.1%
  55. Arlington, Massachusetts 1.1%
  56. Mount Prospect, Illinois 1.1%
  57. Midland Park, New Jersey 1.0%
  58. Lake Dalecarlia, Indiana 1.0%
  59. Pinedale, Wyoming 1.0%
  60. Glenview, Illinois 1.0%
  61. Dunn Loring, Virginia 1.0%
  62. West Kennebunk, Maine 1.0%
  63. Shokan, New York 1.0%
  64. Beacon Square, Florida 1.0%
  65. Peabody, Massachusetts 1.0%
  66. Dedham, Massachusetts 1.0%
  67. North Key Largo, Florida 1.0%
  68. Hillside, New York 1.0%
  69. Orland Park, Illinois 1.0%
  70. Eddystone, Pennsylvania 1.0%
  71. South Hempstead, New York 1.0%
  72. Redington Beach, Florida 1.0%
  73. Hillsmere Shores, Maryland 1.0%

Atlantis newspaper

The Atlantis was the first successful Greek language daily newspaper published in the United States.[41] The newspaper was founded in 1894 by Solon J. and Demetrius J. Vlasto, descendants of the Greek noble family, Vlasto.i[›][42] The paper was headed by a member of the Vlasto family until it closed in 1973. Published in New York City, it had a national circulation and influence. Atlantis supported the royalist faction in Greek politics until the mid-1960s. Atlantis editorial themes included naturalization, war relief, Greek-American business interests, and Greek religious unity.[41]

Front page of the Atlantis Daily newspaper

In popular culture

Greek nationality

Los Angeles Greek Festival

Any person who is ethnically Greek born outside of Greece may become a Greek citizen through naturalization, providing he/she can prove a parent or grandparent was born as a national of Greece. The Greek ancestor's birth certificate and marriage certificate are required, along with the applicant's birth certificate, and the birth certificates of all generations in between until the relation between the applicant and the person with Greek citizenship is proven.


There are hundreds of regional, religious and professional Greek American organizations. Some of the largest and most notable include:

  • The Ku Klux Klan during that time period. Its current membership exceeds 18,000.
  • The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The church operates the Greek Orthodox Youth of America, the largest Orthodox Christian youth group in the United States.
  • The American Hellenic Institute, an advocacy group for Greek Americans, and its lobbying arm, the American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee.
  • The Next Generation Initiative, a foundation that works with prominent Greek American leaders and executives to offer educational opportunities such as internships and master classes through a network of more than 5,500 Greek American students and 2,500 professors on 200+ college campuses.
  • The Council of Hellenes Abroad is a Greek government sponsored umbrella organization for Greek immigrant organizations worldwide.
  • The Hellenic Society Paideia has been promoting Hellenism and Orthodoxy since 1977 by placing Greek and Byzantium classes in high schools and universities, offering study abroad programs to Greece year round, and with various building projects throughout the country. Anywhere from 200-500 students travel to Greece with Paideia per year. Information specifically for the study abroad programs can be found at Currently "Paideia" is constructing a Classical Greek Amphitheater at the University of Connecticut and a Center for Hellenic Studies at the University of Rhode Island.[44]
  • The National Hellenic Student Association (NHSA) [45] is the independent network of the Hellenic Student Associations (HSAs) across the United States. By linking all the Greek, Greek-American and Cypriot students of the American educational institutions, the organization can promote ideas and projects and enrich the Hellenic spirit on campuses nationwide.
  • Many topika somatea or clubs representing the local regional homeland of Greeks in America. Among the scores of such clubs, larger "umbrella" organizations include the Pan Macedonian Association (one example is the Drosopigi Society, in Rochester, New York, hailing from the village of Drosopigi in Northern Greece outside of the city of Florina) the Panepirotic Federation, the Pan Cretan Association, the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood, the Pan Pontian Federation of U.S.A-Canada, the Chios Societies of America & Canada, the Cyprus Federation of America, the Pan-Laconian Federation of the USA & Canada, the Pan-Messinian Federation of the USA & Canada, the Pan-Arcadian Federation of America and several associations of refugees from areas in the former Ottoman territories.
  • The National Hellenic Museum

See also


  1. ^ a b "Total Ancestry Reported".  
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Relations With Greece".  
  3. ^ a b c d "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2010-2012 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2010-2012 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2010-2012 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2010-2012 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2010-2012 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2010-2012 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2010-2012 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2010-2012 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2011-2013 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES 2010-2012 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Most spoken languages in the entire US in 2010".  
  14. ^ a b "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2012 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-04-01. 
  15. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2009 - Supplemental Table 2". Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  16. ^ "Cabeza de Vaca's La Relacion". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Cabeza de Vaca's La Relacion". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Archived April 18, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Church History
  21. ^ "A Nation of Peoples". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  22. ^ Barkan, Elliot Robert (1999).  
  23. ^ Regional Museum of History, Plovdiv
  24. ^ "ЕТНИЧЕСКИ СЪСТАВ НА НАСЕЛЕНИЕТО НА БЪЛГАРИЯ". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  25. ^ Archived March 11, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Picture Bride Era in Greek American History". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  27. ^ Berger, Joseph (March 16, 2008). "Diners in Changing Hands; Greek Ownership on the Wane".  
  28. ^ Kleiman, Dena (February 27, 1991). "Greek Diners, Where Anything Is Possible".  
  29. ^ a b Annie Correal and Colleen Wright (July 5, 2015). "Greeks in New York Talk and Cheer, Then Debate Future After Referendum". The New York Times. Retrieved July 5, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Rank of States for Selected Ancestry Groups with 100,00 or more persons: 1980" (PDF).  
  31. ^ "1990 Census of Population Detailed Ancestry Groups for States" (PDF).  
  32. ^ "Ancestry: 2000".  
  33. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates".  
  34. ^ Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder - Results". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  35. ^ "Ancestry Map of Greek Communities". Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  36. ^ "Top 101 cities with the most residents born in Greece (population 500+)". Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  37. ^ "Appendix Table 2. Languages Spoken at Home: 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2007.".  
  38. ^ "Detailed Language Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English for Persons 5 Years and Over --50 Languages with Greatest Number of Speakers: United States 1990".  
  39. ^ "Language Spoken at Home: 2000".  
  40. ^ "Mother Tongue of the Foreign-Born Population: 1910 to 1940, 1960, and 1970".  
  41. ^ a b Judith Felsten "Atlantis, National Daily Newspaper 1894-1973", Atlantis, National Daily Newspaper 1894-1973, The Research Library of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, December 1982
  42. ^ Magny, Claude Drigon. Livre D'or De La Noblesse Européenne, Ed. 2. Paris: Aubry, 1856, pg. 441.
  43. ^ "Arnie (TV Series 1970–1972)". IMDb. 10 April 2001. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  44. ^ "paideiausa". paideiausa. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  45. ^ "NHSA". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 

External links

Embassy and Consulates
  • Embassy
  • General Consulate Los Angeles
Charitable organizations
Libraries and museums
  • National Hellenic Museum
  • Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection at California State University, Sacramento
  • Basil J. Vlavianos manuscript collection at California State University, Sacramento
  • The Museum Of Greek Culture at the The New England Carousel Museum constructed by The Hellenic Society Paideia housing a Macedonia exhibit.
Trade organizations
  • Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce
  • Greek-American Chamber of Commerce
Affiliate trade organizations
  • Hellenic Canadian Board of Trade
  • Hellenic Canadian Lawyers Association
  • Hellenic-Argentine Chamber of Industry and Commerce (C.I.C.H.A.)
  • Famous Greek-Americans - A comprehensive list of famous Greeks and Greek Americans.
  • KUED - Tribute to Utah's Greek-Americans
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