Richard Campanella Cityscapes: How New Orleans Got Greek

May 8, 2014

This month's Cityscapes column in | The Times-Picayune from geographer and author Richard Campanella details the geography of the Greek community in New Orleans. Most city residents would probably first think of Greek Fest, the annual festival held on the grounds of Holy Trinity Eastern Orthodox Church overlooking Bayou St. John. The congregation marks its 150th anniversary this year.

No Greek community in New Orleans has ever dominated any particular neighborhood; there's no "Greek Town" like in other cities. But Greek history here has been of note. Campanella says the first recorded marriage of two people of Greek descent in the United States may have been a union documented in 1799. The first building of Holy Trinity, in 1866, is likely the first church of the Eastern Orthodox faith in the US.

Campanella also notes a decidedly more secular Greek community in New Orleans. A cluster of Greek bars and nightclubs catered to mariners and seamen on the 100- and 200-blocks of Decatur Street, from around the 1960s to the 1980s.

Today the Holy Trinity Church and Hellenic Cultural Center along Bayou St. John are the only nexus for Greek religion and culture in New Orleans, but the population of Greek families is dispersed throughout the city and suburbs.