2012-11-21 / Book Review

Greeks In Queens Documents Journey Of A Popular Culture

BY JASON D. ANTOS

Greeks in Queens
by Christina Rozeas
Foreword by
Constantine E. Theodosiou
Images of America Series
Price: $21.99
128 pages/ softcover

Emma Lazarus wrote in her 1883 poem, The New Colossus, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These words would be inscribed in 1903 on the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of hope and freedom to immigrants from foreign shores.

In Christina Rozeas’ debut book, Images of America: Greeks in Queens, the author explores the history of one of the most prolific cultures in New York City’s rich history.

The story of the Greek immigrants in the borough dates back more than a century. The book, illustrated with more than 200 vintage images culled from local archives and private collections, explores the many trials and tribulations, types of enterprise and the struggle to balance conformity while preserving old world traditions.

By the early 1900s, New York was becoming a melting pot for immigrants hailing from different nations. Though many settlers chose Manhattan as their home, others ventured forward into the borough of Queens, today the most diverse county in the nation.

America was known as the “land of opportunity”, and Greeks seeking those opportunities developed the largest Greek community outside of Athens in Astoria. Through the growth of the Greek community came Greek Orthodox schools and churches, the earliest in Queens being St. Demetrios, built in 1927, and Greek-owned businesses, especially catering halls like Crystal Palace, coffee shops (that now line busy Astoria streets), and diners.

These establishments gave this special community a place to gather together and secure its standing and future in New York. Greeks in Queens traces the immigrant journey from Greece to America and shows how the Greeks— through wars, hard work, education, and dedication— developed a thriving and much larger community than their predecessors thought possible, in attempting to preserve their culture and religious heritage.

Chapters include: In The Beginning, Old World Influences In A Brave New World, Greek Orthodox Churches and Schools, Traditions and Festivities, Celebrations and the Community, Businesses and Associations.

A true labor of love by Rozeas, Greeks in Queens is a unique book that takes readers on a journey through the history of a widely respected culture.

Greeks in Queens is available at amazon.com, arcadiapublishing.com and at Barnes and Noble Bookstores.

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