Greek Americans (Greek: Ελληνοαμερικανοί, Ellinoamerikanoi) are Americans of full or partial Greek ancestry. About 1.3 million Americans are of Greek descent, although there are estimates that raise this number to 3 million, and 321,144 people older than five spoke Greek at home in 2010.
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. He died during the expedition, as did most of his companions.
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.
Archbishop Iakovos and Vice President [Spiro 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. 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.
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. 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.
The Atlantis 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.
In 1967, Academy Award-winning film-director Elia Kazan published a novel, The Arrangement: A Novel, about a conflicted Greek American living a double life as an advertising executive and muckraking journalist. Kazan, who died in September 2003, was a Greek American.
The popular 1970s show Kojak, featured Telly Savalas as Greek American police detective Theo Kojak, and his brother George as detective Stavros. Kojak was originally supposed to be Polish (hence the name), but this was changed to match Savalas' profile.
The Famous Teddy Z was an acclaimed but short-lived TV series about a fictional talent agent named Teddy Zakalakis, portrayed by Jon Cryer.
The TV series Full House was about a family that included Greek American Uncle Jesse Katsopolis, portrayed by Greek American actor John Stamos. Jesse's surname was changed from Cochran to Katsopolis after the first season because Stamos wanted to portray his Greek American heritage. Jesse's Greek dad was also a recurring character. Stamos reprises the role of Jesse in the 2016 sequel sitcom, Fuller House.
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 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 www.hellenicstudiespaideia.org 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.
The National Hellenic Student Association (NHSA) 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.
^Kleiman, Dena (February 27, 1991). "Greek Diners, Where Anything Is Possible". New York Times. Retrieved May 27, 2009. ... 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
1 Poles came to the United States legally as Austrians, Germans, Prussians or Russians throughout the 19th century, because from 1772–1795 till 1918, all Polish lands had been partitioned between imperial Austria, Prussia (a protoplast of Germany) and Russia until Poland regained its sovereignty in the wake of World War I.
2 Russia is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. The vast majority of its population (80%) lives in European Russia, therefore Russia as a whole is included as a European country here.
7 Disputed; Roma have recognized origins and historic ties to Asia (specifically to Northern India), but they experienced at least some distinctive identity development while in diaspora among Europeans.