A stroll around Astoria reminds many people of Greece because the Hellenic culture is everywhere; from stores to restaurants and businesses throughout the community.
It is the largest Greek-American population in New York. People speak Greek fluently and maintain their Greek heritage in their homes, schools and churches.
“It’s like a little Greece,” Katerina Manolis, a Greek Queens College senior said.
Now, the stories of Greek immigrants and their families have been gathered for QC’s Hellenic-American Oral History Project.
On Jan. 24, a press conference was held at Rosenthal Library to announce the website which features interviews, personal narratives and profiles of native and foreign-born Greeks. Spearheaded by a QC sociology professor, Nicholas Alexiou and funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, an international philanthropic organization, the project aims to document the Greeks’ past and present as well as “promote understanding of Greek American communities in the metropolitan area and beyond,” according to the project’s website.
“The community does not know its own past,” Alexiou told the Daily News.
“They need to know the people who created this community [Astoria] so there is a continuous link between the past and present.,” said Alexandra Kavouras, a Greek QC student. “As a child of immigrants, I saw there was a need to document this history. I think Queens College is the place to do it.”
QC, in Flushing, is within close proximity to Astoria’s large Greek community. Additionally, about 1,500 students of Greek ancestry attend the college, which is more than any other American university, according to the school. Research from the site says that out of 1.3 million people of Greek ancestry in the U.S., about 179,000 live in the NY metropolitan area.
The site features 23 oral history interviews in English and Greek, data drawn from the U.S. Census and other surveys, maps that reflect changing Greek immigrant settlement patterns, demographics and an historical overview of Greek immigration.
The website will be updated regularly and all of the data will be recorded and compiled for an intended series of books on the subject, the school said.
Project information, interviews and research are available at www.qc.cuny.edu/greekoralhistory.