Greektown- Historic Center of Baltimore’s Greek Population

The history of Greeks in Baltimore dates back to the turn of the 20th century. Baltimore is in fact home to one of the largest Greek American communities in US.  By the 1920s, a small but vibrant Greek community had been firmly established centered around the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church located in the Greektown neighborhood. The neighborhood officially became know as “Greektown” when in the 1980s residents petitioned the City to change the name from “the Hill”. By the 1980s Baltimore’s Greek community had 25,000 strong but the concentration of Greeks in Greektown and Highlandtown was starting to decline as they moved on to other neighborhoods. Latino populations are now increasing in both Highlandtown and Greektown.

From an urban perspective Greektown is isolated from the rest of East Baltimore by railroads and an industrial zone on its western border and  I-95 on its eastern border. This probably helped keep the Greek identity strong in the district and keep out crime and blight issues that afflicted many other East Baltimore neighborhoods. But this makes traveling to the rest of East Baltimore a bit challenging. The commercial district along Eastern Ave is generally still in tact and the housing market is quite strong, bolstered recently by the construction of hundreds of new townhouses.

For Greektown to be a great urban neighborhood it could use a full service supermarket, more 1-bed rentals, more walkable schools, and more park amenities. But overall a solid in tact urban district.

Click here to view my Greektown Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Decent density.
* Good proximity to Dwtn and solid public transit connections
* Lots of moderately priced homes for sale and plenty of new townhouses available. 2-beds sell anywhere from 175K-400K. 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 125K-425.
* Decent cultural amenities with several restaurants (many still Greek and now Hispanic) & bars, a Starbucks, and a couple night clubs. There is also a dinner mystery venue and a couple event venues.
* Overall a very safety community.
* Lots of infill urban townhouse. Design and form are so  but certainly could be a lot worse.
* Urban form along Easter Avenue is generally cohesive but certainly some surface parking and autocentric uses along it.
* Greektown seems to have a pretty high impression among Baltimoreans. Perhaps this is why so much new housing was built here.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is generally good in Greektown but spots of Eastern have sidewalks on only one side and modern ADA curbs existing in about 1/2 of all intersections.
* Greektown is pretty isolated from the rest of East Baltimore. One needs to past through very industrial areas without good pedestrian or bike connections to get to Highlandtown.
* One smally dedicated bike lanes runs north to south through the district but not good connections to surrounding districts.
* Poor access to schools other than a couple schools in the adjacent Joseph Lee district. But not really walkable.
* Very few 1-beds for sale.
* Rentals are pretty limited especially 1-beds. Some 2-beds lease for around 2K. Plenty of 3-beds rentals leasing btwn the high 1Ks-3K.
* Parks are limited to a playground and community garden in Greektown. There is a large cemetery bordering Greektown but its seperated by a highway.
* Ok retail venues including several ethnic grocerias (esp. Hispanic), a drug store, a couple banks, a couple boutiques, several bakeries, a gym, and several churches. There’s also a Home Depot in the adjacent neighborhood that’s semi walkable from Greektown.
* Pedestrian activity is a bit limited.

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