Established by Greek immigrants in the 1880's, historic Greektown continues to beat as the heart of downtown Detroit as a thriving entertainment center. The mission of the Greektown Preservation Society is to promote and preserve the Victorian era commercial streetscape of the restaurants and shops.
The society will procure resources and actively pursue and create opportunity to ensure the vitality and well-being of the area. The society will facilitate cooperative strategies to support the existing business and create a healthy climate for economic growth and development.
The society will preserve Greek culture and traditions by hosting festivals throughout the year for the enjoyment of all and enhance the experience off tourist and resident visitors alike by maintaining a clean, attractive, accessible and safe area.
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The traditional center of Detroit's Greek community, the Greektown historic district is one of the last surviving Visctorian-era commercial streetscape in downtown Detroit. The area that today is known as Greektown was first developed by German immigrants as residential community in the 1830s. Between 1905 and 1910, most of the German immigrants began to move of the neighborhood into areas further from downtown. Through the help of Theodore Gerasimos, the first documented Greek immigrant in Detroit, who settled in the city in the 1890, newly-arrived Greek immigrants moved into the neighborhood during the German exodus and established businesses.
By the 1920s, Greektown was becoming primarily commercial; ,ost of the Greek immigrants moved out of the area, but either restaurants, coffee houses, boutiques, and small groceries remained. Over the next three decades, Polish, Italian, Lebanese, Mexican, African-Americans, and some Greeks occupied what little residential spaces were left in the neighborhood. During the 1960s, Greektown was reduced to one block after surrounding buildings, including the Greek Orthodox Church, were razed to provide sites for downtown parking and institutional buildings.
Realizing that Greektown was in danger, the city's Greek community banded together to hold the first Greek festival in 1965. Business owners realized that what made their block of restaurants and shops significant was that it was distinctly Greek. Today, many tourists and residents of Detroit flock to this downtown area to eat and shop in the traditional center of the city's Greek community.
The Greektown Historic District is located just east of the intersection of Gratiot Avenue and Woodward Avenue. The district is roughly bounded by East Lafayete, Brush Street, the alley between Monroe Avenue and Macomb Steet, and St. Antoine Street. The buildings are largely commercial and open to the public.