Gold Coast 2016-10-13T02:28:57+00:00
Gold Coast Neighborhood Header
High Rise Condos Along Lake Michigan in Gold Coast

History Map Showing the Boundaries of All the Neighborhoods in Chicago

It’s hard to picture it now, but at one time the neighborhood now known as the Gold Coast was once undesirable swampland. It developed into what is now one of the most elite and wealthy areas in the United States. The neighborhood was first called the Astor Street District, named for John Jacob Astor. He was one of the first multi-millionaires in America and once he took an interest in the neighborhood, it took off. Because it was isolated from the downtown business district, only a few wealthy families, including the Cyrus McCormicks, the Potter Palmers, and the Joseph T. Ryersons, lived here before the construction of the Michigan Avenue Bridge in 1920. To this day it is still home to many well-to-do Chicagoans.

When the bridge opened it brought with it the development of Michigan Avenue as a luxury shopping district. The Gold Coast brought with it something completely new, the luxury apartment building. This changed the mindset that apartment dwellers had to be poor. Some of Chicago’s elite took up residence in new residential hotels such as the Drake. The district became the heart of the upper crust of Chicago society. Sociologist Harvey Warren Zorbaugh, who claimed that college boys returning from the East Coast dubbed the area the “Gold Coast,” immortalized it in The Gold Coast and the Slum. The density of wealth in the Gold Coast buffered it against the deterioration that threatened other portions of the North Side in the 1950s. Developer Arthur Rubloff’s projects, particularly the revitalization of the Magnificent Mile and Sandburg Village, sparked a new round of investment that protected the Gold Coast through the end of the twentieth century.

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.

Cuisine

Not only is Chicago a great food city, the Gold Coast is a great food neighborhood in that great food city, that’s how impressive it is. To be perfectly honest about it, a lot of that has to do with the amount of money here. The more disposable income a neighborhood, the better chance there’s going to be good places to spend it.

This area has everything you could ask for, one one end you have national chains like The Halal Guys, who serve a legendary rice and lamb platter with red and white sauce, to one-of-a-kind Chicago favorites like Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse. If you’re a believer in the saying ‘variety is the spice of life’, you’re going to enjoy the time you spend here. But make sure to show up with enough time. There’s so many places to go and so many things to eat, you’re never going to make it to all of them. Make sure you prioritize what’s important so you don’t miss it, and plan out some tantalizing options for the next time you come back!

  • Nico Osteria – 1015 North Rush St

  • Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse – 1028 North Rush St

  • Pump Room – 1301 N State St

  • Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen – 100 E Walton St

  • Le Colonial Chicago – 937 N Rush St

  • Hugo’s Frog and Fish – 1024 N Rush St

  • Carmine’s – 1043 N Rush St

  • Bistrot Zinc – 1131 N State St

  • Luxbar – 18 E Bellevue Pl

  • Tavern On Rush – 1031 N Rush St

  • Eduardo’s Enoteca – 1212 N Dearborn St

  • Chicago Q – 1160 N Dearborn St

  • Allium – 20 E Delaware Pl

  • Panecaldo – 111 E Chestnut St

  • Velvet Taco – 1110 N State St

  • Cafe des Architectes – 20 E Chestnut St

  • Nomi – 800 N Michigan Ave

  • Bar Toma – 110 E Pearson St

  • RA Sushi Bar – 1139 N State St

  • Morton’s Steakhouse – 1050 N State St

Nightlife

As good as the food is in the Gold Coast, the nightlife is even better. The bars on Rush street stay open until 4am on Saturdays and the partying never stops. There’s some pretty unique places, like the Zebra Lounge. A place where you can sip craft cocktails and martinis all while being in a Zebra-themed speakeasy with live piano music. Is the game coming on, because if that’s the case you’ll want to make your way over to The Lodge. A great place to have some drinks with friends in a cabin-themed atmosphere. There’s always something for everyone in this neighborhood.

  • Zebra Lounge – 1220 N State St

  • The Lodge – 21 W Division St

  • Hangge Uppe – 14 W Elm St

  • Butch McGuire’s – 20 West Division St

  • Coq D’Or – 140 E Walton Pl

  • 3rd Coast – 1260 N Dearborn St

  • Drumbar – 201 E Delaware Pl

  • Sparrow – 12 W Elm St

  • She-Nannigan’s – 16 W Division St

  • Hopsmith’s – 15 W Division St

  • Le Bar Chicago – 20 E Chestnut St

  • Pippen’s Tavern – 806 N Rush St