Florida's Piece of Greece Gets National Traditional Cultural Designation

Jul 10, 2014

Nicholas Toth makes rings for a sponge diving helmet at his Tarpon Springs workshop in 2010.
Credit Tina Bucuvalas
Greek immigrants first arrived at Tarpon Springs in large numbers in 1905. Many of their cultural traditions survive to this day.
Credit Tina Bucuvalas

A Florida community with the highest concentration of Greek people in the country has been recognized as a Traditional Cultural Property by the National Park Service. Locals hope the designation for the Tarpon Springs Greektown Historic District brings tourists to the area.

The first-in-the-state designation was announced in June. Tarpon Springs Art and Cultural Resources Curator Tina Bucuvalas submitted the application.

“There’s nothing like Tarpon Springs anywhere, really," she says. 

She says its 76 percent Greek population and the century-long endurance of cultural traditions and the sponge harvesting industry make Greektown the perfect fit for the list.

"Behind every store is a real story of a family that has been here for generations," she says. 

Bucuvalus says a tangible benefit of the cultural designation is property owners will get tax breaks to renovate buildings in the traditional style. Beyond that, she says the listing will hopefully attract cultural tourists.

The music in the broadcast story was performed by Spiros Skordilis and Nick Polemis at Tarpon Springs. Credit: Florida Department of State.