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Greece, New York: US City Renamed to Honor Greek War of Independence

War of Independence
Greece, New York’s City Hall. The town was renamed from Northhampton in 1822 in honor of the Greeks’s struggle against the Turks in its War of Independence. Credit: DanielPenfield Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0

Greece, New York, a suburb of Rochester, was renamed one year after the declaration of the Greek War of Independence as a way to honor the great struggle of the Greek people during the War of Independence.

The town celebrated its 199th birthday on Monday.

Greece, New York re-named during Greek War of Independence

Established years earlier as the town of Northampton, it was renamed in 1822 in honor of the Greeks’ war, waged against the Ottoman Empire, much as Americans had warred agains the British Empire just several decades prior.

Greece, New York
The Fetzner Carriage Company was a manufacturer of handcrafted horse carriages in the early 1800s in Greece, New York. Credit: Public Domain

The official flag of the Town of Greece was adopted at a meeting of the Town Council on August 17, 1954. Centered in a field of white is a circular emblem, designed by J. S. Perticone, depicting the old lighthouse at the mouth of the Genesee River which was built in 1822 – the same year the Town was established with its new name.

The circle represents the shield of the warriors of the ancient Greece and the border is of characteristic Greek key design. The lightning flashes symbolize the energy and strength of the Greek god Zeus and the colors – terra cotta, golden yellow and black – are those used in archaic Greek pottery and artistic decoration.

Greece, NY
The seal of the town of Greece, New York features many Greek elements, including the Greek Key motif, the form of a warrior’s shield, and a lightning bolt, signifying the Greek god Zeus.

Greece Memorial Hall, also known as “Greece Town Hall,” was a historic town hall building located in the town. The building, constructed in 1919, memorialized the 288 young men from Greece, New York, who served in World War I — thirteen of whom died in battle.

“To honor it with pride”

Konstantinos Vlasis, a Member of the Hellenic Parliament representing the New Democracy Party, remarked how much sympathy Greece inspired throughout the world two hundred years ago as it fought for its freedom from oppression.

Americans at that time were well aware that Greeks, much as they had done just one generation prior, were fighting for their freedom from a great Empire as well during their War of Independence.

“Today 199 years ago, March 22, 1822, in the state of New York, this city was founded with the name “Greece” to honor the Greeks who fought for their Freedom,” he said.

“Such was the power & influence of the Greek Revolution & we owe to honor it with pride!

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