Greek American Communities

Many Greek American Utahns made Utah their home. The contributions continue influencing Utah’s cultural, economic, political, and religious fabric.

The first Greek immigrants arrived in the United States during the 1880s. At first, only a few Greek immigrants arrived in the United States each year. After 1900, however, many Greeks came from their home country. Most entered the United States through Ellis Island in New York, where they either found work or moved to other parts of the country.

Push and Pull Factors

Some Greek immigrants traveled to the American West from the East Coast. Job opportunities pulled Greek immigrants to the West. Many came to Utah because the Greek American Leonidas Skliris worked as a labor agent with railroad companies to find jobs for Greek immigrants.  Greek Americans built many miles of railroad in Utah. They also worked in Utah’s copper and coal mines. 

The Peter Zolintakis family was one of the first Greek families to come to Utah


Working for the railroad was difficult, and the pay was not good. Greek immigrants lived in tents or railroad cars that did not offer much protection from the weather. Railroad companies paid their employees as little as twenty dollars a month.  Railroad laborers also did not see other people or their homes for months. Greek immigrant Utahns who worked for mine companies made more money than those who worked for the railroad.

Greek American Utahns also opened businesses. Many of their companies were in Salt Lake City’s Greek Town, located around 400 South and 400 West. Greek immigrants ran stores, newspapers, and other commercial enterprises. Many Greek-owned grocery stores sold foods from Greece, including cheese, olive oil, salt fish, and candy. Others raised sheep. Greek immigrant women were very busy. They raised children, washed clothes, and cooked meals. Some rented out a room in their house. They called the renters boarders. Women cooked and cleaned for their families and their borders. Greek women remembered they were tired but glad they could help provide for their children. Greek American-owned businesses provided services and goods for purchase to everyone in their cities and towns, not just Greek immigrants.

Building Community

Greek Orthodox Holy Trinity Church in Salt Lake City

Greek immigrants also established churches to build community.  The Holy Trinity Church, located on Fourth South and between Third and Fourth West in Salt Lake City, was dedicated in 1905. Eastern Orthodox religious traditions were important to Greek immigrants. The Holy Trinity Church made it possible for Greeks, Serbians, Russians, and Christian Albanians to receive religious ceremonial rights. Priests performed ceremonies and wrote letters for Greek immigrants who had not learned how to read and write to people in Greece. 

Many Greek families gathered in the mountains for weekly picnics. Greek mothers made cheese pastries and other foods. Some people, including James Skedros, wrote poems and stories about Greek life. Greek immigrants also opened schools for their children. They chose to continue to teach and speak Greek. 


The Holy Trinity Church still stands in Salt Lake City today. It is a remnant of Greek Town, which is gone. Many businesses and homes have replaced what was once Greek Town. However, there are still people who live in Utah whose families first arrived as Greek immigrants decades ago. Greek life was once a rich and diverse part of Utah’s culture. Greek immigrants built communities by continuing many of the traditions practiced in their home country. We can remember Utah’s Greek immigrants by thinking about their practices, viewing photographs of Greek immigrants, and walking by the Holy Trinity Church.

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