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Mayor Richard M. Daley today joined Alderman Walter Burnett (27th) and members of Chicago’s Greek community to commemorate the completion of the first phase of construction at the future site of the National Hellenic Museum, located at 333 S. Halsted St.
“Our Greek-American population is the second largest Greek population in the United States and the third largest in the world,” said Daley. “That’s why it is only fitting to open the National Hellenic Museum here in Chicago. This new state-of-the-art museum, which is the only one of its kind in the country – will complement Chicago’s already vibrant arts and cultural community.”
The City’s support of the museum includes the allocation of $2.5 million in TIF funds. Once completed, the museum and cultural center will be 40,000 square feet, with exhibit space, research facilities, an auditorium, gift shop and administrative offices.
After receiving independence in the 1880s, many Greeks arrived in Chicago seeking a new life and new opportunities. Many of them planted roots on the Near West Side and built a strong community through hard work and determination.
By the 1920s, Greektown had emerged as a thriving business enclave. The Greek-American community quickly established leadership in many areas including business, education, trades, healthcare and the legal profession.
And today, like many ethnic groups in Chicago, Greek-Americans maintain a commitment to strong family values, religious beliefs and work ethic, which will be showcased at the new museum.
In addition to the unveiling of the plans for the museum, the event featured a preview of the Taste of Greece Festival, which begins tonight in Greektown and runs through Sunday.
Greek-Americans have a “wonderful heritage and a rich culture” said Daley.
He commended leaders of Chicago’s Greek-American community for their work to establish a national museum to continue to teach future generations about their history.
“It is a pleasure to join you this morning to celebrate your heritage as well as the many contributions that Chicago=s Greek-American community has made to our city.”
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