The Gold Coast Historic District is a historic district in Chicago, Illinois. Part of Chicago’s Near North Side community area, it is roughly bounded by North Avenue, Lake Shore Drive, Oak Street, and Clark Street.
The Gold Coast neighborhood grew in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire. In 1882, millionaire Potter Palmer moved to the area from the Prairie Avenue neighborhood on the city’s south side. He filled in a swampy area which later became Lake Shore Drive, and built the Palmer Mansion, a forty-two room castle-like structure designed by Henry Ives Cobb and Charles Sumner Frost. Other wealthy Chicagoans followed Potter into the neighborhood, which became one of the richest in Chicago.
In the late 1980s, the Gold Coast and neighboring Streeterville comprised the second most-affluent neighborhood in the United States, behind Manhattan‘s Upper East Side. Today, the neighborhood is a mixture of mansions, row houses, and high-rise apartments. Highlights include the Astor Street District and the James Charnley House.
The nearby East Lake Shore Drive District and parts of northern Streeterville and the Magnificent Mile near the lake also may be considered part of the Gold Coast (such as the area around the famous 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments), even if not technically in the historic designation. The mayor’s office map extends the Gold Coast south to the area of Northwestern University’s Chicago campus.
The Gold Coast Neighborhood is one of Chicago’s most treasured residential areas with its quiet, tree-lined streets, stately homes and connections to the city’s past. First known as the Astor Street District, in the late 1800’s, it started at North Avenue and ran south along Astor to Division Street, then called Bishop’s Street. Today, the Astor Street District is within the larger neighborhood of the Gold Coast which extends from North Avenue south to Oak Street and from the lake as far west as Clark Street.
Astor Street is named after John Jacob Astor. Although he never lived in Chicago, the street was named to honor his achievements; he was one of the richest citizens in the United States. At the time of his death in 1848 his estate was worth $20 million, the equivalent of $78 billion today. Astor was the founder of the American Fur Company and an investor in New York City real estate. His name gave a luster to the area, which has never diminished.
One of the early landowners in the neighborhood was Potter Palmer, who played a significant role in the development of Chicago business and the Gold Coast. When most of his contemporaries were living on Prairie Avenue, south of the business district, Palmer began to buy up land on the north end, which was only lightly populated and still mostly swamp after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. He also owned a three quarter-mile area of State Street in the business district, where he started a dry-goods business with Marshall Field and Levi Leiter. Palmer later went on to build the Palmer House Hotel as a gift to his wife Bertha Honore. Both the store and the hotel were destroyed in the Great Fire and had to be rebuilt.
Interest in the area increased when Lake Shore Drive was opened in 1875 from North Avenue to Oak Street, and a favorite Sunday afternoon pastime became a ride along the lakefront. By 1882 the Palmer family had started building one of the first mansions on the drive in the block between Schiller, originally called Church Street, and Banks, originally named Division Street. This block became known as the Potter Palmer Homestead. The Palmers’ gothic castle at 1350 North Lake Shore Drive, said to look like a goldfish bowl castle, became the center of Chicago’s high society. Bertha Palmer had an extensive collection of Impressionist paintings, many of which now belong to the Art Institute of Chicago. The Palmer mansion was demolished in 1950.
However, the oldest home in the district belonged to the Chicago Archdiocese. In 1880 Archbishop Patrick Feehan was one of the early neighbors of the Palmers, living at 1555 North State Parkway. Another early homeowner in the area was James Charnley. He built his wealth in the timber industry, bought his land from Potter Palmer and moved into 1365 North Astor in 1892. The Society of Architectural Historians now operates from this home, known today as the Charnley-Persky House.
Other early families in the area included Vallette Kasson, Horatio N. May, Thomas W. Hinde, James L. Houghtelling, and William O. Goodman, also in the lumber business. It was his son, Kenneth Sawyer Goodman, the playwright, from whom The Goodman Theatre got its name. The neighborhood also included Joseph T. Ryerson Jr., who ran an iron/steel company; Edward P. Russell; Robert Todd Lincoln, the only surviving child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln; and Albert F. Madlener, who was a successful liquor wholesaler. The Madlener House at 4 West Burton and State Street now houses the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Within 20 years of the opening of Lake Shore Drive, the Gold Coast community had been established. As the city of Chicago grew rapidly in the last quarter of the 19th century, Astor Street on the north side developed more densely than Prairie Avenue on the south making more economical use of the land and creating true city houses, abutting one another on their narrow sites. This emphasis on land use also brought high-rise apartment buildings to the neighborhood, made fashionable by second generation Potter Palmers.
A few exceptions were made when, for example, Joseph Medill, founder of the Chicago Tribune and former mayor of Chicago, had the largest house on Astor Street built as a present for his daughter, Elinor “Nellie” and her husband, Robert Wilson Patterson, Jr. Constructed in 1893, it occupies the northwest corner of Astor and Burton. The house was later owned by John Wrenn, and then was purchased by Cyrus Hall McCormick, Jr. Cyrus ran the International Harvester Company started by his father who invented the reaper. However, in 1978 the home was divided into condominiums.
From its earliest days, the Gold Coast Neighborhood has been home to many important Chicago families, people who have contributed substantially to the social, cultural and economic history of the city. The Astor Street District is important as a reminder of the history of the city of Chicago. Today’s owners and residents appreciate this legacy and strive to preserve and enhance the quality of life and the beauty of the area.
At the 4th Annual Taste of the Gold Coast you can taste a wide array of food from the Chicago Gold Coast at this black-tie/ cocktail-attire soiree. There will be live entertainment from Colby Beserra & The Party Faithful. The silent auction will benefit the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled.
Spring Event: Toast to the Coast
Gold Coast Neighbors’ 2017 Spring Fundraising Event
2017 “Toast to the Coast”
Date: Wednesday, May 10
Time: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Location: The Racquet Club of Chicago | 1365 N Dearborn Parkway, Chicago, IL 60610
Dress code: Cocktail attire; jackets and ties required; denim not allowed
Parking: Valet parking available
Tickets: $135 GCNA members / $160 non-members
Evening On Astor Fundraiser Block Party
The World’s Most Elegant Block Party!
Annual Evening on Astor Fundraiser
September 7, 2016
5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
There is NO rain date.
The Evening Begins A Gold Coast Neighbors’ Favorite!
The Gold Coast Neighbors Association has hosted Evening on Astor since 1982. This annual block party and fundraiser for GCNA brings over 1,000 neighbors together for an evening of fun on Astor Street. This is a great way to meet new friends and support your neighborhood. We sell food via various local food trucks, along with wine/beer/soda/water for purchase from Division Street Merchants/Lodge Management Group. Advance purchase of food from our food truck vendors will be available in August. For your entertainment, the Michael Lerich orchestra will be playing throughout the evening.
Admission by wristband only – Suggested donation of $5 to enter or if you purchase a table, you receive 8 wristbands per 8′ table purchase and 4 wristbands per 4′ table purchase. Wristbands are not re-usable.
For everyone’s safety, please remember that dogs and skateboards are not permitted.
SOLD OUT!! PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE FOR ANY LAST MINUTE CANCELLATIONS THAT MAY BE AVAILABLE.
Note: You are able to purchase wristbands for entry at the event.
WHEN: Thursday, August 16th, 6:30-9 pm; VIP’s mingle with the chefs at 6pm.
WHERE: Sofitel Chicago at 20 E Chestnut in Chicago, IL 60611
$250 VIP MEET & GREET, EARLY ACCESS & LUXURY RAFFLE ENTRY Doors open at 6pm for VIP ticket. From 6:00-6:30pm VIP guest will have meet and greet access with participating chefs. VIP guests will receive entry into Luxury Raffle, have access to a VIP seating area and no line access into the event. Ticket price includes all you can eat and drink from the participating restaurants and hosted bar.
$120 General Admission Doors open at 6:30pm for General Admission. Ticket price includes all you can eat and drink from the participating restaurants and hosted bar.
Culinary Student Prices available too.
Bar Toma An Italian neighborhood pizzeria and bar by Chef Tony Mantuano, Bar Toma features 20 varieties of pizza, a mozzarella bar, gelato, an espresso bar, Roman-style fritti, pizza salads with Italian beers, aperitivi and 60 wines.
Café des Architectes Serving some of Chicago’s finest cuisine, Chef Greg Biggers offers seasonal menus featuring unique and flavorful dishes. Entrees feature market fresh seafood, game and fowl. The restaurant’s cheese ritual and elegant desserts complete the dining experience.
Big Bowl Using the freshest ingredients and starting from scratch is how to authentically prepare Asian cuisine. Big Bowl roasts its own, peanuts, chiles and spices, which are ground daily to prepare a variety of curries. Fragrant jasmine rice, Shaoxing wine, first-press peanut oil, quality brewed soy sauce and artisan wheat noodles are all a part of the authentic Big Bowl pantry.
Cantina 46 With an emphasis on superior service and guest satisfaction, Cantina 46 delights in the details. Great food, unpretentious service and attention to detail are the daily goals. The commitment to freshness is raised to the highest level, as there are no freezers or fryers, supporting the restaurant’s vision of soulful, honest food with integrity.
Carmine’s Since 1994, Rosebud’s place for fun and spirited nightlife has delivered on the promise with live music, celebrity sightings, and a canopied patio for the best people watching in the city.
Cape Cod, The Drake Hotel This highly regarded seafood restaurant has consistently been named one of America’s finest dining spots since 1933 & inducted into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame by Nation’s Restaurant News. This cozy, well-proportioned restaurant features an oyster bar and boasts fresh seafood from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Francesca’s on Chestnut Francesca’s on Chestnut features an intimate trattoria setting with an antique Brunswick bar and a 40-person private dining room, complete with a private fireplace. Chef Horacio Sanchez leads the kitchen, providing Francesca’s classic fare of zesty, earthy cuisine of Rome and the surrounding areas of Lazio, Tuscanyand Umbria.
Frankie’s Scaloppine In a stylish dining room away from the busy pace of the prestigious Shops at 900 North Michigan Avenue, Frankie’s Scaloppine features one of Italy’s most-beloved and appealing dishes, scaloppine.
Gaylord Freshness is the key for Chicago’s longest running fine dining Indian restaurant and it continues to set them apart from other Indian dining options in the Chicago area. After 36 years in Chicago, Gaylord reinvents itself once more with a move to a larger space in the Gold Coast offering the best fine dining Indian cuisine available in the city.
Fred’s of Barneys New York When you need a reward for a successful spell of merch-raiding—or a bit of an inducement to venture out in the first place—this will be your penthouse perch for hard-earned martinis, juicy burgers, seared Angus ribeyes and full-on weekend brunches.
Lou Malnati’s Lou Malnati’s pride ourselves on making each handmade pizza just the way you like it. – a buttery, flaky crust, sweet and tangy tomatoes, gooey mozzarella cheese, perfectly seasoned sausage, and other fresh ingredients.
Hendrickx Belgian Bread Hendrickx’s menu focuses strictly on Belgian baked goods baked daily by co-owner Renaud Hendrickx. The counter-service spot offers at least a half-dozen handcrafted treats a day, including a hearty Belgian country bread that takes eight hours to make and can be purchased by the slice or quarter-loaf if you’re not up for a full loaf.
Saloon Steakhouse Think big, and then multiply it by two. Chicago knows meat, and this manly-man steak house keeps it real with a carnivorous feast featuring grand-scale portions, such as the porterhouse, bone-in filet or Parmesan and garlic-stuffed filet set atop creamed spinach. Fresh seafood is flown in daily for those seeking lighter fare.
Morton’s Since day one, Morton’s has used the same suppliers for their aged prime beef and other meat. They select the best of their inventory – and if it doesn’t meet Morton’s standards, it doesn’t get cut for the steaks.
The Grill on the Alley The Grill was modeled after the great grills of New York and San Francisco; the founders seeking to maintain the tradition of those fine, old establishments by offering first-rate fare, attentive service, and a familiar, dignified atmosphere.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides and Apps @ www.vino-con-vista.com