Greek-Americans and their children began moving out of Astoria decades ago, abandoning the Queens neighborhood that once boasted the world’s largest population of Hellenic immigrants for the suburbs or their homeland.
But amid the political and economic turmoil that has shaken Greece this year, that tide may again be shifting. The evidence—only anecdotal so far—can be seen in the clientele at Immigration Advocacy Services, an Astoria-based nonprofit where many “older clients are coming in with questions like, ‘How can I get my nephew here from Greece?'” said director Debra Gilmore.
“The economy is terrible there,” Ms. Gilmore said. “Even if they have jobs, it’s tough, and we’ve seen whole families that are coming back.”
“Most of them are Greek-Americans that moved to Greece years ago and recently have returned because of the issues that are going on there,” said Anastasios Koularmanis, the principal of St. Demetrios.
Construction worker George Vrusis is among those who returned. Mr. Vrusis came back to Astoria in March after moving to the Greek island of Chios in 2007 with his wife and two children.
George Alexiou, a real-estate agent and the president of the Greek American Homeowners Association, says he has seen a rise in the number of Greek families moving back to Astoria, in particular those who already own houses in the area and are American citizens.
Despite the changes in population, the neighborhood has retained much of its Greek culture, offering a familiar landscape to those looking to escape.
Greeks and Greek-Americans are still strongly bound to Astoria by economic and familial ties—and that’s still seen in the area, Mr. Alexiou said. “They’ll always have a connection with this neighborhood,” he said.