Download our 2010 Year-End Report


Chicago’s Sister City Since 1997

Committee Chair: Demetrios Kozonis

Committee Co-Chair: Nicholas Black


Mayor: Nikitas M. Kaklamanis
Country Location:   Southern Europe  
Geography:  Located at the southeastern tip of Greece, Athens lies on a small plain that extends southward to the Saronic Gulf, a branch of the Aegean Sea. Athens is bounded on three sides by Mt. Parnitha, Mt. Pendeli and Mt. Hymettos.  
History:  The earliest settlement, dating from before 3000 BC. In the 5th century B.C., it was the cultural and artistic center of the classical world. In 1204, Athens was occupied by the Crusaders and remained under Western rule until its capture by the Turks in 1456. Greece gained independence from the Turks in the war of 1821-32, and in 1833, Athens became the capital of Greece.  
Industry:  Tourism, food processing, textiles, chemicals
Did You Know?  The first Olympic games, held in 776 B.C. in Athens, featured only one event – a foot race. The 2004 Olympics in Athens will host 10,500 athletes from 75 countries, participating in 28 sports.  
Flag Description: Blue square in upper corner bearing white cross symbolizing Greek Orthodoxy.  


September 13

Focus: Culture
The Runners, a 16-foot sculpture by Dr. Theodoros Papagiannis, will be accepted into the Chicago Public Art Collection in a dedication ceremony on Tuesday, September 13 at O'Hare International Airport. Donated by the Athens Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International and supported by Chicago's large Greek-American community, the work depicts five runners emerging from antiquity into the modern world. Installation began in March along the I-190 south side embankment.

The sculpture project is part of the International Sculpture Exchange Program, a collaboration among the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture; Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI); and Chicago Gateway Green, a non-profit civic organization with the purpose of enhancing Chicago’s expressways, gateways, and neighborhoods, in cooperation with the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA).

Greek immigrants began arriving in Chicago in the 1840s. These were primarily seamen who came from New Orleans by way of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and became engaged in commerce on the Great Lakes. Some returned to their homeland with glowing tales of the Midwest and returned with relatives and friends. Such networks would stimulate significant migration, however, only after the Great Fire of 1871. The community of approximately 1,000 in 1882 drew considerably, for example, on the recruitment activities of Christ Chakonas, who became known as the “Columbus of Sparta.” After coming to Chicago in 1873 he saw the moneymaking possibilities it offered and returned repeatedly to his native Sparta to recruit others. Many of these relatives and compatriots procured construction jobs in rebuilding the city. Others became food peddlers or merchants on Lake Street, then the city's business center. When news of their success reached their hometown, a new wave of Greeks, many from neighboring villages in the provinces of Laconia and Arcadia, followed, giving the small community on the Near North Side a distinctly Peloponnesian flavor. Chicago soon became the terminus for Greek immigrants to the United States and housed the largest Greek settlement in the nation until replaced by New York City after World War II.


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