Where did the Greektown Greeks go?

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Greektown might not have loads of Greek residents, but it sure is important to the Greek community. It's a place that marks near the spot waves of their ancestors came to find a better life in Chicago.

These days, it's mostly a tourist trap with great tasting, affordable ethnic food. And that typically makes for a much better time than most stuffy restaurants in the Loop.

What's your take on Greektown? Should we still call it a neighborhood, or is it more of a restaurant theme park?

Have your say here?

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Georgia Bitzis Pooley, arrived in 1885

Georgia Bitzis Pooley, arrived in 1885

Georgia Bitzis Pooley

Georgia Bitzis Pooley

Georgia Bitzis Pooley in 1885 was the first Greek woman to arrive in Chicago

Greeks still have a strangle hold on all the shops, restaurants and property in that area, so although barely any Greeks live there it's still as much a neighborhood as any other. A neighborhood is really defined by the pride people take in their surroundings & the heritage of the community, and Greektown still has that. Plus, as long as they continue to hire hot busty Greek girls to wait tables at the bars there, then it should remain Greektown.

The first Greek woman to arrive in Chicago was Georgia Bitzis Pooley.

The previous folks all say that Ms. Pooley was the first Greek woman in Chicago. However, my great-grandmother, Mary Policandriotes is believed to be the first Greek female in Will County. Her brother-in-law George Policandriotes had been working for nine years as a lighthouse attendant in Washington state. He became disenchanted with life in the United States, and in 1902 had boarded a Santa Fe train to take him back to New York City to board a ship to return to Greece. However, the train derailed near Joliet, Illinois. While waiting for the repairs to be made, George noticed the dark, rich land along the railroad tracks. Suddenly, he changed his plans. Instead of getting back on the train, George decided to try his hand at farming. Soon he had acquired some property on Spencer Road on Joliet's East Side. George's brother James soon followed along with his wife, Mary. Within ten years there were about 300 Greeks in the community.

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Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol covers city neighborhoods for the Chicago Sun-Times. You can e-mail him or call (312) 321-2146.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Konkol published on October 19, 2007 10:02 AM.

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