|1,265,177 – 3,000,000 (approx.)|
0.75% of the U.S. population (2010)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Christianity, predominantly Greek Orthodox|
|Part of a series on|
|Etymology · Greek names|
|History of Greece|
Greek Americans (Greek: Ελληνοαμερικανοί Ellinoamerikanoí [eliˌno.amerikaˈni] or Ελληνοαμερικάνοι Ellinoamerikánoi [eliˌno.ameriˈkani]) are Americans of full or partial Greek ancestry. The lowest estimate is that 1.2 million Americans are of Greek descent while the highest estimate suggests over 3 million. 350,000 people older than five spoke Greek at home in 2010.
Greek Americans have the highest concentrations in the New York City, Boston, and Chicago 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 (25%). The United States is home to the largest number of Greeks outside of Greece, followed by Cyprus and Australia.
The first Greek known to have been to what is now the United States was Don Doroteo Teodoro, a sailor who landed in Boca Ciega Bay at the Jungle Prada site in present-day St. Petersburg, FL with the Narváez expedition in 1528. He was instrumental in building the rafts that the expedition survivors built and sailed from present-day St. Mark's River in Florida until they were shipwrecked near Galveston Island, Texas. Teodoro had been captured by natives as they sailed along the Gulf coast shoreline toward the west, and was never seen again. He was presumably killed by the natives.
In 1592, Greek captain Juan de Fuca (original name: 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.
Records show that a Greek, Michael Dry (Youris), became a naturalized citizen by act of the General Assembly of Maryland in 1725. This makes Dry the first Greek positively known to reside permanently in what is today the United States.
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. In November 1777, a Greek chapel was established in St. Augustine, where Greeks could pray with their own rites. Almost 200 years later, the chapel was designated the St Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine by the Greek Orthodox Church, and it exists today as a remnant of their presence, having been built atop the site of the Avero House, itself believed to be the first site of Greek Orthodox worship in the United States.
The first noted Greek American scholar was John Paradise. He was persuaded to immigrate to America by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, whom he met in Europe. Paradise married into the notable Ludwell family, one of the most prominent colonial families in Virginia.
Evstratii Delarov, a native of the Peloponnese, was the first documented Greek explorer and merchant to arrive in Alaska. From 1783 to 1791, he was in charge of all Russian trading operations in the Aleutian Islands and in Alaska. He is today considered to have been the first de facto Governor of Alaska.
Early records show Michel Dragon (Michalis Dracos) and Andrea Dimitry (Andrea Drussakis Demetrios) settled in New Orleans around 1799. Michel Dragon was a lieutenant in the American Revolution and Andrea Dimitry participated in the War of 1812. Andrea married Michel Dragon's daughter, Marianne Celeste Dragon, and established a small community in New Orleans. The marriage between them in 1799 was the first known marriage between Greeks in America. His son was United States ambassador to Costa Rica & Nicaragua Alexander Dimitry. Another Greek refugee named George Marshall also came to the United States around this period. He was born in Rhodes in 1782. Marshall joined the United States Navy in 1809 and he wrote Marshall's Practical Marine Gunnery. Marshall had a successful naval career and became master gunner. His son George J Marshall also served in the navy. His son-in-law was George Sirian. Due to problems with the straight of Gibraltar, America was desperate for trade with Europe. Pirates ransomed Americans which led to two Barbary wars. America eventually formed the Mediterranean Squadron.
Many American ships traveled to the Ottoman Empire, namely Ayvalık. The Greek War of Independence began in 1821 and lasted until 1830. Americans established missionaries in Greece. The missionaries included Jonas King. Prominent American abolitionists Samuel Gridley Howe and Jonathan Peckham Miller participated in the Greek War. Jonathan Peckham Miller adopted Greek orphan Lucas M. Miller. Samuel Gridley Howe also collected a number of refugees and brought them back to Boston. Some of the refugees he brought included John Celivergos Zachos and author Christophorus Plato Castanis.
New England and Boston became home to countless Greek refugees during the 1820s. Some of them were: Author Petros Mengous, Photius Fisk, Gregory Anthony Perdicaris, Evangelinos Apostolides Sophocles, George Colvocoresses, Garafilia Mohalbi. There was a large Greek presence at Mount Pleasant Classical Institute and other local universities. There were hundreds of Greek orphans that arrived in New England. Some drastically contributed to the United States of America. The Greek Slave Movement was initiated by Boston abolitionists.
The Greek Slave Movement started in the 1820s during the influx of young refugees to New England. The movement contributed to countless paintings, sculptures, poems, essays, and songs. The death of Greek slave Garafilia Mohalbi was a trigger for sympathy. She was featured in many poems and songs. The Greek Slave Movement was so popular in American media that sculptor Hiram Powers created The Greek Slave. The Greek Slave Movement was an abolitionist tool to abolish slavery in the United States. The theme eventually exploded some examples include: The Slave Market (Gérôme painting), The Slave Market (Boulanger painting), and the slave Market Otto Pilny. Some of the young Greek refugees became abolitionists.
John Celivergos Zachos became a prominent educator. He was also a woman's rights activist and abolitionist. Photius Fisk was another abolitionist who fought for the anti-slavery cause. Gregory Anthony Perdicaris was a wealthy millionaire who created the framework for gas and electric companies. George Colvocoresses was a captain in the United States Navy. Colvos Passage is named after him. George Sirian was another seaman in the United States Navy. The George Sirian Meritorious Service Award is named after him. Harvard created an entire department for Evangelinos Apostolides Sophocles. Greek orphan Lucas Miltiades Miller became a U.S. Congressman.
In the American Civil War, Greek Americans fought for both sides, Union and Confederate, with prominent Greeks such as George Colvocoresses, John Celivergos Zachos and Photius Fisk taking part in the war on the side of the Union. A Greek Company within the Confederate Louisiana Militia was formed for Greeks who fought for the Confederate States of America.
After the Civil War, the Greek community continued to flourish in New Orleans, Louisiana. By 1866, the community was numerous and prosperous enough to have a Greek consulate and the first official Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. 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. 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. However, the loss of their homeland due to the Greek genocide and the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, which displaced 1,500,000 Greeks from Anatolia, Eastern Thrace, and Pontus caused the initial economic immigrants to reside permanently in America. The Greeks were de jure denaturalized from their homelands and lost the right to return, and their families were made refugees. Additionally, the first widely implemented U.S. immigration limits against non Western European immigrants were made in 1924, 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, most of whom were "picture brides" for single Greek men and family members coming over to join relatives.
In 1909, there was a pogrom against the Greek population in South Omaha.
The events of the early 1920s also provided the stimulus for the first permanent national Greek American religious and civic organizations. In 1922, as a response to the anti-Greek campaign and actions of Ku Klux Klan, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association was founded, which sought to organize and Americanize the Greek immigrant in America.
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 1945 until 1982, approximately 211,000 Greeks immigrated 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. 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.
In the aftermath of the Greek financial crisis, there has been a resurgence of Greek immigration to New York City since 2010, accelerating in 2015, and centered upon the traditional Greek enclave of Astoria, Queens. 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. In December 2022, the $85 million, newly rebuilt St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church opened in Lower Manhattan, 21 years after being destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Population by state according to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey.
Greek-American communities in the U.S. according to the 5 Year Estimates of the (2020 American Community Survey):
United States by Ancestry: 1,249,194
United States by Country of Birth: 124,428
Top CSA's by Ancestry:
Top CSA's by Country of Birth:
Top MSA's by Ancestry:
Top MSA's by Country of Birth:
Top States by Ancestry:
Top States by Country of Birth:
The U.S. communities with the highest percentage of people claiming Greek ancestry are:
The U.S. communities with the largest percentage of residents born in Greece are:
Greek speakers in the U.S.
|^a Foreign-born population only|
Greek-born population in the U.S. since 2010 (ACS 1 Tear Estimates):
The Atlantis (1894–1973) was the first successful Greek-language daily newspaper published in the United States. The newspaper was founded in 1894 by Solon J. and Demetrius J. Vlasto, descendants of the Greek noble family, Vlasto.[i] 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.
As of 2020[update], Ethnikos Kyrix (Greek: Εθνικός Κήρυξ, 1915–) is the only Greek-language daily publication based in the United States. Headquartered in New York City, its articles focus on the Greek diaspora in the United States as well as current events in Greece and Cyprus. In contrast to its competitor Atlantis, Ethnikos Kyrix historically supported liberal causes in Greece and America, including the progressive forces of Eleftherios Venizelos in Greece and the New Deal stateside. A companion weekly edition The National Herald (1997–) is in circulation and features similar content presented in English. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America publishes the monthly Orthodox Observer (1934–) in both Greek and English for news and information regarding the Greek Orthodox Church as a whole, as well as its American parishes.
See also: Greek nationality law
Any person who is ethnically Greek born outside of Greece may become a Greek citizen through naturalization by proving that 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:
Further information: List of Greek Americans
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... Greeks became a visible presence in the diner and coffee shop business in the late 1950s after several waves of immigration. They congregated largely on the East Coast, where the food service industry provided an easy economic foothold for many immigrants who were often unskilled and unable to speak English. As with immigrants from many nations, one relative would send word of opportunity back home, encouraging others to come to America