When Chicago’s wealthy migrated north from the Prairie District just after the dawn of the 20th century they built mansions along Lake Shore Drive and Astor Street from Division to North Avenue, or settled into the sprawling apartments (now co-ops) on prestigious East Lake Shore Drive. The landmark-laden pocket of tree-lined streets east of Clark Street and north of Oak Street quickly became known as the “Gold Coast.”
Many of the great mansions are gone, replaced by high-rise apartments and condos available at prices that range from strikingly affordable to upper-bracket. Enough of the mansions remain to endow the Gold Coast with an overwhelming aura of wealth, architectural distinctiveness and pedestrian-scale charm. Despite its density the Gold Coast plays out like a small, approachable neighborhood.
The attractions of the Gold Coast go far beyond its housing stock. Oak Street and North Avenue beaches are steps away, as are Lincoln Park’s most popular attractions – the Zoo, the Conservatory and its gardens and the Farmers Market.
The long-settled nature of the Gold Coast means that home buyers have few new construction options north of Division Street. New luxury high-rises have been developed during the past 10 years immediately south of what had traditionally been considered the Gold Coast, extending its boundaries.
Anchoring the western boundary of the Gold Coast is Sandburg Village, a 2,600 unit half-mile long complex of 2,600 townhomes, mid-rises, lofts and high-rises, a wide range of amenities, and some of the Gold Coast’s best views.
“Adjacent” is a key word in understanding the draw of the Gold Coast. Its pivotal location puts it within a short walk or cab ride of the best of everything on Chicago’s near north side. Public transportation options include a Red Line subway stop at Clark and Division and buses along Lake Shore Drive, Clark, LaSalle, North Avenue and Division.
Shopping, dining and nightlife
The wealth of the Gold Coast is dazzlingly on display at the upscale shops that line Oak Street (Yves St Laurent, Kate Spade, Harry Winston, Prada, Vera Wang, Jimmy Choo and more) and are spilling over onto Rush Street. More basic shopping needs can easily be satisfied at the array of shops that crowd Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile.
The singles bar scene that once dominated Division Street and spawned the 70s classic Looking for Mr Goodbar is largely a memory, but the famed Butch McGuire’s still serves dozens of draft beer choices and great bar food. The Gold Coast still hosts the iconic Pump Room at the Ambassador East Hotel and the Drake Hotel’s internationally-known Cape Cod Room. There are scores of additional dining options within the Gold Coast, and 100s more in adjacent Old Town, Lincoln Park, Streeterville and River North.
Top-tier public and private schools serve Gold Coast families. The Latin School sits at the northern boundary of the Gold Coast, not far from Lincoln Park’s Francis Parker School. Nearby public schools include LaSalle Language Academy, Ogden School, Walter Payton College Prep and Lincoln Park High School, which offers an International Baccalaureate program.