Here are photos taken in 1975 from what was left over of the Greektown neighborhood after the construction the University of Illinois, Chicago, the Eisenhower Expressway and Dan Ryan Expressway in the 1960s. In the early years the Greek language was spoken on the streets and displayed on storefronts from the time that the early immigrants arrived on American shores in the 1840s. The buildings are framed against the downtown skyscrapers and in a matter of a few decades Greektown would fall victim to gentrification. The close proximity of Greektown to downtown has made it attractive to city dwellers who want to work and play in a vibrant urban community. While a student of photography at UIC, I was intrigued by what was behind the doors of old decrepit buildings on Halsted Street as seen in the photos of contractors rehabbing the turn of the century buildings. Today Greektown is a remnant of its original vibrancy and has been swallowed up by newly built condos, Whole Foods, Starbucks, Zenleaf, Mariano's and other business chains that have reclaimed the neighborhood. Many Greeks have migrated to the suburbs and built Greek Orthodox churches that are a hub for culture and faith. The original St. Basil’s Greek Orthodox Church that served the Greek immigrants during the turn of the century continues to serve the faithful on Ashland Avenue across from Rush Hospital. The National Hellenic Museum is an anchor on Halsted Street and continues with programming and exhibits of Greek culture and history. As Covid has affected us in more ways than can be imagined the history of Greektown has yet to be written.
© Diane Alexander White PHOTOGRAPHY