Chicago’s Gold Coast

The Gold Coast of Chicago is one of the richest areas in the city. It’s a historic district comprised of a posh residential area and one of the city’s best entertainment and restaurant zones.

Most people visit the Rush and Division section of the Gold Coast, colloquially known as the Viagra Triangle. This small triangle shaped area is home to some of the best and most well-known restaurants and bars in the city, including Gibson’s Steakhouse, Tavern on Rush, Carmine’s, and Hugo’s Frog Bar. It’s an amazing place to hang out in the summer, especially on weekend nights. Sitting outside at Tavern on Rush on a summer day, it’s not uncommon to spot celebrities or famous athletes walking by.

Viagra Triangle in the Chicago Gold Coast

Viagra Triangle

Gibson's in the Chicago Gold Coast

Gibson’s

Tavern on Rush in the Chicago Gold Coast

Tavern on Rush

The other hot summer spot in the Gold Coast is Oak Street Beach. It’s great location underneath the towering skyscrapers of Michigan Avenue give beachgoers some great scenery to swim, bask in the sun, or enjoy the seasonal restaurant.

Oak Street Beach in Chicago

Oak Street Beach

Oak Street Beach in Chicago

Oak Street Beach

The Gold Coast is not short on historic homes and buildings. Walking up North State Parkway and Astor street, between Goethe Street and North Avenue, there are some amazing structures to be seen. Concentrating on leafy Astor Street will be the most rewarding.

Astor Street Gold Coast Chicago

Astor Street

One of the impressive homes include the massive Patterson-McCormick Mansion (1500 N. Astor). Built in 1893 as a wedding gift for the publisher of the Chicago Tribune. It’s now an apartment building.

Patterson-McCormick Mansion on Astor Street Gold Coast Chicago

Patterson-McCormick Mansion

The Edward P. Russell House is an Art Deco townhouse built in 1929 by Holabird and Root. It’s at 1444 N. Astor.

Edward P. Russell House on Astor Street Gold Coast Chicago

Edward P. Russell House on Astor Street

The most famous house on the street is the Charnley-Persky House. It was designed by Louis Sullivan and a young Frank Lloyd Wright. The home, built in 1892, is available for tours on limited days. As of June 2016, noon tours on Wednesdays are free while Saturday tours at 10am and noon are US$10 for adults. Click here to read about my tour.

Charnley-Persky House by Frank Lloyd Wright on Astor Street Gold Coast Chicago

Charnley-Persky House by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright on Astor Street

Other homes to look out for on Astor Street include the John L. Fortune House (1451 N. Astor), the May House (1443 N. Astor), the William D. Kerfoot House (1425 N. Astor), Astor Court (1355 N. Astor), and the Edwin J. Gardiner House (1345 N. Astor).

Astor Street Gold Coast Chicago

Astor Street

Also on Astor Street is Wooden Alley. This is one of the last remaining stretches of Chicago’s wooden paved streets, which ultimately was the greatest cause of the spread of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This section was paved with wood in 1909.

Wooden Alley on Astor Street Gold Coast Chicago

Wooden Alley on Astor Street

At opposite corners of North State Parkway and North Avenue are two more impressive buildings. 1500 North State Parkway was built in 1912 and was once the most luxurious building in the city. It originally had 1 apartment per floor, at 9,000 ft² each, with ten rooms for the owner and five rooms for servant’s quarters. It overlooks Lincoln Park.

1500 North State Parkway in Gold Coast Chicago

1500 North State Parkway

1500 North State Parkway in Gold Coast Chicago

1500 North State Parkway

Across the street is the residence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago. This building with its 19 signature chimneys was built in 1880 on the former site of a Catholic cemetery.

Roman Catholic Archbishop's Residence in Gold Coast Chicago

Roman Catholic Archbishop’s Residence

At 1340 North State Parkway is the original Playboy Mansion. It’s a 70 room French brick and limestone residence built in 1899 for Dr. George Swift Isham. Hugh Hefner bought the mansion in 1959 and his original grotto was in the basement. A brass sign that used to hang on the front door said “Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare”…or “If you don’t swing, don’t ring” in Latin. Hef packed up and moved permanently to California in 1974, after being harassed by federal prosecutor Jim Thompson (later Illinois governor) about alleged cocaine use. Four very expensive condos are now located in the building.

Original Playboy Mansion in the Gold Coast, Chicago, Illinois

Original Playboy Mansion

Last update: June 1, 2016

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