Here are photos taken in 1975 from what was left over of the Greek Town neighborhood after the construction the University of Illinois, Chicago, and the Eisenhower and Dan Ryan expressways. The Greek language was spoken on the streets and displayed on storefronts from the time of the early immigrants settling arriving on American shores in the 1840s. The buildings are framed against the downtown skyscrapers and in a matter of a few decades Greek Town would fall victim to gentrification. The close proximity of downtown to Greek Town has made it attractive to city dwellers who want to work and play in a vibrant urban neighborhood. While a student of photography at UIC I was intrigued by what was behind the doors of old decrepit buildings soon to be gentrified as seen in the photos of contractors fixing up turn of the century buildings. Today, Greek Town is a remnant of what once was and even the number of Greek restaurants is dwindling whild being surrounded by new construction, Whole Foods, Starbucks and other business chains. Many Greeks have since migrated to the suburbs and built churches that are a hub for culture and faith. The original St. Basil’s Greek Orthodox Church that served the faithful during the turn of the century still sits on Ashland Avenue across from the hospital complexes in the area. Covid has affected Chicago in more ways than can be imagined. The history of Greek Town, Chicago has yet to be written, stay tuned.
© Diane Alexander White PHOTOGRAPHY