By the 1960s, Greek was the predominant language in this Sydney, Australia suburb known as Marrickville. Thousands of immigrants had made the neighborhood their home, building businesses, establishing community centers and places of worship and laying the foundations for their new lives in Australia.
On February 9, the local council, known as the Inner West Council, voted to officially rename a corridor of Marrickville as “Little Greece.” The renaming coincides with the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence and a special renaming ceremony will take place on March 25th.
Few communities around the world share this official distinction. While predominant Greek neighborhoods like Astoria in New York City, or Danforth Avenue in Toronto are bustling with Greek businesses, street signs and other Greek activity, Sydney’s neighborhood will be officially recognized on maps and official documents as “Little Greece” by a vote of the elected council of the city.
Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne said the Little Greece precinct was a “gesture of respect” to all the Greek migrants who have helped to build Marrickville into one of the “most interesting suburbs on earth”.
Australian population data shows 2353 residents of Marrickville, or 8.8 per cent, claimed Greek ancestry in 2016. Although the number is significantly lower that what it was even a decade ago, the Greek influence in the neighborhood remains prevalent. Between the 1950s and 1960s Marrickville became home to up to one-third of Sydney’s Greek population.
In recent years the Vietnamese-born population has also become prominent in the area, but the Greek influence still remains in its restaurants, Greek Orthodox churches and delis as homeowners have moved to the suburbs.
“Greek Australians continue to be an important core to our community and local economy in Marrickville,” said councillor Sam Iskandar in a statement. “Marrickville would not be the vibrant community and suburb that it is today without the thousands of Greek Australians who have chosen the area to be their home. This announcement also importantly looks to the future and cements the ongoing place of Greek Australians in the inner west.”
The vote to rename the neighborhood corridor followed broad community support and a desire of many involved to recognize Greek immigrant contributions to ethnic overall development of the inner-city Sydney district.
Photo: Street art in Marrickville reflecting the Greek heritage of the property owner. Image from The Community Kouzina Project, a blog run by Marrickville native and community activist.
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