Opa! CMWR Explores Chicago’s Greektown

The CMWR’s Fall Quarter Walk and Talk took place on October 21st in Chicago’s Greektown.  Around 3:30 we gathered outside of the National Hellenic Museum off the UIC-Halsted stop for some quick photos and to ponder the meaning behind the abstract, blue-green mural covering the side of the museum.  We continued on down Halsted, admiring the Greek style pillars that line the streets and Greek lettering on storefront signs.

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Greektown is well known for its food and nightlife, and as afternoon shifted to early evening, we were able to see restaurants setting up for the dinner rush that would begin in a few hours.  We made our way to the Mary Barelme Park, a family-friendly park located on Sangamon street right off Halsted, to sample some Greek cookies and pastries from a local bakery.  While we ate, we contemplated the park’s dramatic modern art sculptures and swooned over the adorable puppies playing in the park.  After a few more photographs by one of the prominent Greek pillared pavilions back on Halsted, our group parted ways, allowing those students with night classes to return to campus while the rest of us stayed for dinner.

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We walked back up Halsted and arrived at Artopolis, a bakery and café, where we were able to shuffle some tables around and fill a back corner of the restaurant.  One of the café’s signature dishes, Artopitas, was a popular menu choice.  These pastries came filled with different combinations of cheese, chicken, mushrooms, or spinach, with the option of pasta or potatoes on the side, and warmed everyone up after our lively but chilly walk.  During dinner, the conversation covered everything from comparisons of the languages we speak to plans for Halloween.  We also discussed upcoming events from the international program, and hopefully gained some recruits for Book Club and Conversation and Culture.

Greektown is located mainly on Halsted with the north and south boundaries between Madison and Van Buren, and the East and West boundaries between Green St. and the interstate.  As the Greek population increased in the early 1900s, they began concentrating around the Harrison-Halsted area, a neighborhood that was known as Deltaibut before being renamed Greektown.  During the 1960s, the construction of the Eisenhower Expressway caused the Greek community to move north, where Greektown is located now. In 1996, the city spent millions of dollars to enhance the Greek culture in this area by renovating the streets and building pillars, pavilions, and traditional Greek temples.  Today, this neighborhood is home to some of the best Greek food in the country.

Elizabeth G.