Gold Coast, a Chicago Neighborhood Visitor Guide from Chicago Traveler

Chicago's South Coast from the Signature Room

Gold Coast, a Chicago Neighborhood Guide
by Zahra Ink - Chicago Writing Services

History

The Gold Coast got its start in the late 1800's as the Astor Street District. Today's Gold Coast incorporates this original district and extends beyond it. Its boundaries are now defined as North Avenue and Division Street on the north, Lake Michigan on the east, Chicago Avenue on the south and Clark and Franklin Streets on the west.

Gold Coast, Chicago

The Gold Coast got its start in the late 1800's as the Astor Street District

The original Astor Street District was named after John Jacob Astor, one of the richest people in the country. He did not live in Chicago, but was a respected citizen with several achievements and his name gave the neighborhood a status of wealth which remains even today.

In 1875, Lake Shore Drive became a popular spot for leisurely lakefront rides. As a result, the Gold Coast area became more frequently visited. In the ensuing two decades, Potter Palmer, the Chicago Archdiocese and James Charnley built mansions in the area. They were soon followed by other wealthy families, bringing up the status of the area and giving it a reputation as a neighborhood of influential citizens. As the neighborhood became more densely populated, there wasn't as much space for mansions, and high-rise apartment buildings were built.

Today's Gold Coast retains all of the prestige and reputation that it has enjoyed over the last century. Its name continues to signal wealth, and its inhabitants are intensely proud of the neighborhood in which they live.

Gold Coast Neighborhood Video

Chicago Real Estate » Videos » Gold Coast

Shopping

Shopping in the Gold Coast is of an upscale nature; shoppers throng the streets carrying shopping bags with internationally recognized names.

Apart from smaller, one-of-a-kind boutiques, there are popular stores such as Diesel, Urban Outfitters, Adidas, Puma and Anthropologie. More elite shops can also be found, such as Barney's New York, Bang and Olufsen, Prada and Kate Spade.

Hotels near Gold Coast

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Hotel Info Nightly Rates*
MileNorth, A Chicago Hotel
4
Located in Gold Coast
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Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

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Best Western River North
3
Located in River North
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Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

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4.125
2 Reviews
The Silversmith Hotel & Suites
4
Located in Downtown
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Ivy Hotel
4
Located in Gold Coast
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$369* Details
Avenue Crowne Plaza
4
Located in Gold Coast
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Restaurants near Gold Coast

Attractions near Gold Coast

Venue Info Location
Tastebud Food Tours ActiveCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricSights of Chicago

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Lakefront Bicycle Tour Located in Streeterville ActiveFamily FriendlySights of Chicago

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Bikes, Bites & Brews Tour Located in Streeterville ActiveHistoricSights of ChicagoScenic

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Progressive Dining Tour Located in The Loop CulturalHistoricHoliday FunNightlifeSights of ChicagoRomanticScenic

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Interior Architecture Tour Located in The Loop ActiveCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricSights of ChicagoScenic

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Willis Tower Located in The Loop Sights of Chicago

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4.125
2 Reviews
Hancock Center Located in Gold Coast CulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricMuseumSights of ChicagoRomanticScenicShopping

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Art Institute of Chicago Located in Grant Park ArtsyCulturalHistoricMuseumSights of Chicago

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*Terms & Conditions: Offers, promotions and rates subject to change and may vary based upon date, length of stay and other factors. Some offers do not include taxes and fees. All offers based on availability and are subject to change without notice.

Restaurants

Gold Coast Chicago from Signature Lounge

Gold Coast is famous in Chicago for dining

The Gold Coast is one of the most famous districts in Chicago for dining, with a very high concentration of restaurants and bars. Many of them are located on famed Rush Street. A densely packed area known for its energy and its lights, Rush is awake long after the Loop has gone to sleep. Even in cold weather, throngs of people can be found mingling outside each of the restaurants and bars in this area. It is, to many, the place to be. Many establishments, aware of the draw of Rush Street, use the moniker when naming their business. There is the Rush Street Restaurant, Phil Stefani's 437 Rush and Tavern on Rush, to name a few.

Restaurants that are unique to Chicago include Tavern on Rush, Carmine's, Gibson's, Bistrot Zinc, Morton's Steakhouse and PJ Clarke's. Well-known chains also abound here. There are Dave and Buster's, Johnny Rockets, Big Bowl and the world-famous Cheesecake Factory. For faster food, visitors can try Corner Bakery or Gold Coast Dogs.

After hours, check out Hugo's Frog Bar, The Back Room and Luxbar. These bars draw a more mature crowd than most clubs and exude an elite, wealthy air.

Culture

Several art galleries can be found in the Gold Coast. Each year, in fact, the neighborhood co-sponsors the Gold Coast River North Art Fair, a huge fair with fine art, music and food. The fair is commonly known as the "Grand Daddy" of art fairs. Some art galleries in the area include the Aaron Galleries, the Colletti Gallery and Rosenthal Fine Art, among others.

Chicago's Gold Coast at night

Chicago's Gold Coast at night

Theater is also emphasized in this neighborhood.A Red Orchid Theater is an eclectic, edgy theater that produces shows of great scope and insight. The 2006 - 2007 season will include "Hothouse" by Harold Pinter and "The Meek" by Brett Neveu. The Esquire Theater, a cinema, is also found in the Gold Coast, but was closed in September 2006 and will probably be demolished soon..

For another dose of culture, visitors can check out a museum or two in the area as well. The Museum of Contemporary Art at 220 E. Chicago Avenue is a famous attraction in Chicago; known as the MCA, the museum holds over 6,000 objects of art in all media and genres. The International Museum of Surgical Science is an intriguing museum that often gets overlooked in the midst of larger, better-known museums around the city. This shrine to surgical and medical history includes ancient tools such as amputation kits and x-ray tubes. There are historical paintings in the museum's Hall of Murals and statues of medical heroes in the Hall of Immortals. Free tours of the museum are available on Saturday afternoons.

The Newberry Library is a historic part of Chicago; it was opened to the public in 1887 and has since become one of the world's leading research libraries. With a focus on the humanities, the Newberry offers a highly renowned collection, as well as lectures, exhibits, classes and even an immense book sale each year.

Community

The neighborhood is listed as the "Gold Coast Historic District" on the National Register of Historic Places. Certainly, the homes evoke a sense of history; each stone mansion gives the impression of permanence and wealth. A walk through the neighborhood provides an up-close glimpse of some of the city's oldest and most unique architecture.

An example of this uniqueness is the Charnley Persky House at 1365 N. Astor Street. Known as the "first modern house in America", it was designed by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a National Historic Landmark and its upkeep is funded by the Gold Coast Neighbors.

Gold Coast seen from Chicago Navy Pier

There are condominiums on Lake Shore Drive that are also unique in terms of architecture. They have traditionally large lobbies and huge bay windows that face east and provide magnificent views of Lake Michigan.

Yet another architectural gem in the neighborhood is the John Hancock Building. This iconic building stands 100 stories tall and is best known for its external X-bracing. A historic part of the Chicago skyline, it is instantly recognizable by locals and non-locals alike. The building contains offices, condominiums and restaurants; the 95th floor houses The Signature Room, an upscale restaurant that affords views of the city as well as Lake Michigan. There is an observation deck on the 94th floor as well.

Those who are lucky enough to live in the Gold Coast are focused on preserving its beauty and heritage. Gold Coast Neighbors is the organization dedicated to this cause. The organization, founded in 1957, has a detailed website, outlining their efforts to engage the members of the neighborhood in their mission. Neighborhood beautification is one of its top priorities. The association holds an annual spring benefit called Echoes, which raises funds. Evening on Astor is another annual event; it is a block party that is free of charge to neighbors and provides entertainment, games, music, food and beverages.

Oak Street Beach, located on North Lake Shore Drive, is popular among locals for its location and its view. Relaxing on the sand or jogging along the winding paths is picturesque indeed when it is done in the shadow of some of the world's most original skyscrapers.

Indeed, the entire neighborhood lives in the shadow of these giants; the combination of daily life with deep-rooted historical and architectural genius is a compelling one. These are just a few aspects of this charming neighborhood which draws visitors and gives each inhabitant of the area a special pride.