To this day the Gold Coast still attracts some of the most well known and richest among us. For example, when we think of the Playboy Mansion, we usually think of Beverly Hills, but the very first one was right here in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Hugh Heffner bought the place at 1340 N. State Parkway in 1959, and it served as the center of his infamous and luxurious lifestyle throughout the 60s and early 70s. In 1974, Heffner donated the building to the Art Institute of Chicago for student dorms. It was bought and turned into 7 condos in 1993, one of which sold for nearly $3 million last year.
When most people think of the Gold Coast, one thing dominates their thoughts; shopping. When you can lay claim to being the 7th richest urban area in the United States you’re going to have some high quality places to spend money. Most of those places reside in the Magnificent Mile. Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is the 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue that runs from the banks of the Chicago River to the south, to Oak Street to the north. In 1947, when the North Michigan Avenue already had become Chicago’s most fashionable street, real estate developer Arthur Rubloff – who had ambitious plans for the avenue – dubbed North Michigan Avenue ‘Magnificent Mile’. The name stuck and in 2001 it was even trademarked. All the big names in shopping are present here, from Disney, Apple and Niketown to Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue. The wide sidewalks, often adorned with well-maintained flowerbeds are always crowded. But the area has more than just shopping going for it. It also boasts incredible hotels, restaurants and financial centers. Renowned and critically acclaimed restaurants such as The Signature Room at The 95th, Spiaggia, Tru, The Pump Room, Lawry’s, The Grand Lux, The Park Hyatt Room, The Prime Rib, and Spago provide a variety of dining options. Three 5-star hotels (The Peninsula Chicago, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, and Ritz-Carlton Chicago) and Illinois’ only 4-star hotel (Park Hyatt) are located within about five blocks.
Even though the history of the Gold Coast is intriguing, and the shopping is amazing, believe or not there is even more this Chicago neighborhood has to offer. Festivals are found here throughout the summer. The Greek Fest is a real favorite among Chicago locals. You can get Greek food, beverages, music, and dancing at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral all for the low, low price of free! Don’t miss out on the Gold Coast Art Fair at Grant Park. It’s rated as one of the top 30 juried art festivals in the country.