10 Reasons to Love Living in Gold Coast, Chicago 2021
Chicago, Illinois is the third-largest city by population in the United States, lagging only behind New York and Los Angeles. Located on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan, it combines Midwest living and urban flair. Nicknamed the Windy City or Chi-Town, it’s an international hub of finance, culture, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. Fun fact: the nickname "Windy City" actually comes from a reference to 19th-century politicians who were noted by journalists at the time for their "long-windedness" and deemed to be boastful and "full of hot air". Many Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in the Chicago area, including Allstate, Kraft Heinz, and Walgreens. It’s got one of the world’s busiest airports, railroad hubs, and the Port Authority.
Millions of people each year visit for business and pleasure as Chicago has something for everyone – shopping, entertainment, museums, and sports. Those who live here get to experience the best of the city all the time. Those that live in the Gold Coast neighborhood have the best of the best right in their backyard.
The Gold Coast is the second wealthiest neighborhood in the nation, with Central Park East in Manhattan being the richest. Located in Cook County, the 17,448 residents are professionals, singles, families, and retirees enjoying the dense urban feel. This neighborhood is bordered by North Avenue, Lake Shore Drive, Oak Street, and Clark Street. There are great views of the Lake Michigan shoreline, and the famous Chicago skyline.
Gold Coast is a historic district, having been added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It’s got a long and storied past, that started when the Chicago elite creating one of the first residential neighborhoods in the downtown area in the late 19th century.
Only 13 minutes from downtown Chicago, the Gold Coast is a desirable neighborhood for those that work in the city and those that just like to be in the center of the action. Celebrities, past and present have made the Gold Coast their home, including J.B. Pritzker (the current governor of Illinois), Lori Greiner (an inventor and entrepreneur), Vince Vaughn (a well-known film actor), and Lee Miglin (real estate developer). With a median household income of $153,358, the Gold Coast is the 7th richest urban neighborhood in the US.
Here are 10 reasons why Chicagoans choose the Gold Coast neighborhood for their homes:
1. Luxurious Homes
Since the 19th century, the Gold Coast has been a showcase for amazing architectural homes and well-appointed mansions. The Astor Street District has rows of these homes designed in various historical revival styles. Many of the tree-lined streets in Gold Coast are a mix of historic mansions next to row-houses and high-rise condominium buildings. Other streets have large single-family homes that are within walking distance of the Loop. Many have great views of Lake Michigan.
Homes that date back to the late 1800s are either single-family homes with a dozen bedrooms and nearly that number of baths, or they are divided into apartment-type dwellings. 56% of the people who live in the neighborhood own their own homes. While the median home value is more than twice the national average at $562,989, there are affordable housing options. Some homes have courtyards with picket fences and small green spaces. Some have rooftop spaces with great views of the surrounding city. Home prices are listed between $124,000 and $18.8 million. For those that choose to rent, prices range from $1,200 to $7,500 per month.
2. School Options
The Gold Coast is served by the Chicago Public Schools. Younger kids attend the Ogden International School of Chicago and older children attend Lincoln Park High School.
There are also several private school options. The average tuition cost is $10,790 per year. Just over 50% of the private schools are religiously affiliated, most often Roman Catholic, or Christian.
The Latin School of Chicago has 1190 students on three campuses – the lower school for pre-kindergarten through 4th grade, the middle school for 5th through 8th grade, and the Upper School for 9th through 12th grades. Students come from 76 neighborhoods and 14 suburbs to attend this school due to its stellar reputation and learning opportunities. They embrace the diversity of people, cultures, and ideas and encourage students to pursue their passions.
The Gold Coast Prep Schools is a private school for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. There are 88 students, and the yearly tuition is $25,500. The curriculum is designed for talented or gifted students and includes national and international travel.
Northwest University’s Chicago Campus is just south of the neighborhood. There are many other prestigious colleges in the Chicago area that are accessible with public transit. The residents of the Gold Coast are very well educated. 40% have master’s degrees, and 42% have bachelor’s degrees.
3. Transportation and Proximity to Downtown
The beauty of the Gold Coast is its proximity to downtown and other technological and office centers. While a car is still the major mode of transportation, there are other options to get around the city. The mass transit system will take you through the metropolitan area. The Red Line is a north and south route, and the station is at Clark and Division will take you to the Loop in minutes. Bus routes are available for short trips. And if you so desire, you can ride your bike throughout the city (or for pleasure on Lake Shore Trail.
Many homes in this neighborhood have modest yards, if any, or rooftop balconies. Recreation is often done outside the home. Luckily there are many options.
Washington Square Park is a historic landmark in the neighborhood. Founded in 1842, this 3-acre gift from a donor was forever designated as a park. A beautiful fountain was added in 1870. The fountain currently in the park is not the original. With large shady trees, picket fences, and flower beds, this is a great place to meet friends, have a picnic, or just stroll in an oasis in the city. The park’s original purpose was a gathering place for free speech, and there is a memorial tablet commemorating this. An annual gathering is held in July each year where people come for friendly debates. Be sure to take in the great view of Willis Tower (aka the Sears Tower).
Along North Avenue Beach, you will find the Chess Pavilion. In 1957, Laurens Hammond donated money toward the construction of the pavilion. Architect Maurice Webster and local sculptor Boris Gilbertson designed the chess “tables” and game boards. This place is as much a work of art as it is a place for friendly competition.
On warm days, locals head to Oak Street Beach. On Lake Michigan between the Gold Coast and Streeterville neighborhoods, this is a mecca for surfers, windsurfers, stand-up paddleboarders, volleyball players, bikers, and those that just want to relax in the sun. If you don’t own the proper equipment, there are plenty of rental places. Grab a bite to eat at the Oak Street Beach Café and admire the views of the Chicago skyline.
5. A Culinary Delight
One of the best aspects of the Gold Coast area is restaurants, cafes, pubs, and other eateries in the neighborhood. In fact, the Gold Coast has the highest concentration of restaurants in the entire city. From steak to sushi, pasta to pizza, Chinese to American, there is a cuisine sure to please your taste buds.
You can’t mention food and Chicago without thinking of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Lou Malnati’s has been making the best pizza since the 1970s. For more Italian fare, check out Nico Osteria. Here you can sit at the chef’s counter and watch your meal being made by the amazing kitchen staff. Start with a choice from the large drink menu, and then enjoy house-made pasta and Italian seafood selections.
For a classic midwestern steak dinner in style, Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse is the best. Since 1989, they’ve been delighting carnivores with their culinary delights. The restaurant’s location has a famous past. It used to be Mr. Kelly’s nightclub where Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, and Lenny Bruce once performed.
Le Colonial Restaurant serves upscale Vietnamese food with a 1920’s inspired Asian menu. Sit on the balcony year-round and people-watch while you enjoy your meal.
Inside the Viceroy Chicago hotel, you will find the Somerset. It has a swanky interior and high-end seasonal cuisine.
Other restaurants in the area include Old Jerusalem, The Fudge Pot, and Corcoran’s Grill & Pub. Whatever your taste bud desires, you can find it on the Gold Coast.
After an afternoon shopping on the Magnificent Mile, a must-stop is Tea Gschwendner. A German tea house that established itself here in the 1970s, you can either sit and have a cup of tea or take home pre-packaged or loose-leaf teas. They have the best selection of green, black, oolong, and white teas. If you are a tea fan, you will delight in the aromas and just have to take some home.
6. Shop ‘til you Drop
You will find no shortage of places to whip out your credit card. The best shopping to be found is on the Gold Coast. There is shopping, dining, hotels, and activities. Some people even get married on the Wrigley Building Bridge.
The Magnificent Mile has 460 retailers in three main shopping areas. Running from the Chicago River to Oak Street in the Near North Side, this is the premier shopping district in the Midwest. There are restaurants and landmarks here as well, but people come to shop high-end boutiques, department stores, and famous labels. Whatever you are looking for, you can finally find it on the Mile. Some stores sell apparel, cosmetics, electronics, flowers, gourmet foods, home goods, travel, groceries, jewelry, pet supplies, shoes, sports, toys, and more. Besides department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy’s, you will find Channel, Burberry, Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co.
There are three vertical shopping centers along the mile: The 900 North Michigan Shops, Water Tower Place, and the Shops and North Bridge. They are all anchored by major department stores. 900 North Michigan is an indoor shopping center with retailers such as Kate Spade, Karen Millen, Gucci, Max Mara, and J. Crew.
Along the Mile, there are more than 50 flagship retailers and brand houses, with new stores opening all the time.
If you have a child that owns an American Girl doll, you will want to visit the American Girl Place. Your child and their doll can have their hair done, ears pierced, and have a meal or afternoon tea in the café (dolls get their own place at the table).
7. Newberry Library
Since 1887, the Newberry Library has been loaning books and providing reference materials to the public. If you are studying local history or your family’s genealogy, the library has an extensive collection of books and documents. Researchers, academics, and the curious will find interesting and rare books. There are 1.5 million books, 5 million manuscript pages, and 500,000 historic maps. Teacher education classes are offered, and other events for members of the public. The Research and Academic Programs Division offers fellowships and seminars for scholars. Visitors must be 14 years of age to enter and use the library. There is a bookstore in the lobby which offers cards, posters, and other souvenirs for the bibliophiles in your life.
The Chicago area has a multitude of famous museums, and some of them are on the Gold Coast. The International Museum of Surgical Science was founded in 1935 and has 10,000 square feet of space dedicated to the display of medical procedures and surgical equipment throughout the years. There are statues of famous surgeons and physicians. Here you can see how far mankind has advanced in health and medicine.
As mentioned above, the Gold Coast has many gorgeous homes that date back to the 1800s. One such home displaying neo-Georgian architecture is the Bryan Lathrop House. Bryan Lathrop was a trustee of the Newberry Library and a member of high society. The building was designated a Chicago Landmark and placed on the register of National Historic Places in 1973.
Celebrating the area’s diversity, the Greene Vardiman Black statue is a monument to the father of modern dentistry. He invented the dental drill, first used nitrous oxide, and perfected the art of filling cavities. The statue dates back to 1918.
Frank Lloyd Wright, working under the tutelage of architect Louis Sullivan, designed the Charnley-Persky House when he was just 19 years old. This 11-room house was a departure from the Victorian style at the time. It has clean lines and plain forms. Just because it used abstract forms didn’t mean that it doesn’t still illustrate the opulent lifestyle of the 19th century. You can immerse yourself in the era with a 45-minute tour.
9. The Chicago Skyline
No matter which way you look at it, the Chicago Skyline is impressive. Dotted with high-rise and skyscrapers, with some dating back to the 1920s and 1930s. In fact, Chicago is known as the birthplace of the skyscraper. The Home Insurance Building was built in 1885 and demolished in 1931, and while it paled in comparison to the buildings of today, it set the tone. The tallest building in Chicago is the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower at 1,451 feet. Back in the Gold Coast neighborhood, The John Hancock tower stands at 1,127 feet. It is now called 875 North Michigan Avenue and is the 13th tallest building in the United States and the 5th tallest in Chicago. It offers 360-degree views of Chicago and Lake Michigan from the Observation Deck. The Signature Room and Lounge are on the 95th floor. America’s highest indoor swimming pool is on the 44th floor.
10. The Nightlife
The Gold Coast has no shortage of entertainment and nightlife. There are high-end bars on almost every corner. Many of these have rooftop lounges to sip cocktails and enjoy views of the skyline.
“Viagra Triangle” is the place to people watch and enjoy the nightlife. Located where Rush Street and Division meet, this is where wealthy “older gentlemen” hang out. It is the home of Hugh Hefner’s original playboy mansion. Check out Gibson’s martini bar, Tavern on the Rush, Carmine’s, and Hugo’s Frog Bar.
Many world-class hotels are also in this area, including the Drake, Peninsula Chicago, the Four Seasons Chicago, the Ambassador, the Waldorf Astoria, and Viceroy Chicago. They all have lounges, bars, and restaurants for happy hour or for imbibing well into the wee morning hours. If you live on the Gold Coast, you can probably just leisurely stroll back to your residence when done.
For different evening entertainment, the Red Orchid Theatre opened in 1993 and is the place to go to see award-winning plays.
The Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago is one of the most desirable locations to live in the city. As you can see, there is no lack of new things to see and experience. If you are looking for an urban oasis will all of the amenities at your fingertips, spend some time looking at the Gold Coast neighborhood. You will experience luxury in the heart of the city.