Photo of scary Halloween pumpkins and a gift bag

Neighborhood News – The historic luxe of the Gold Coast

Photo of scary Halloween pumpkins and a gift bag

The Gold Coast Historic District is bounded by North Avenue, Lake Shore Drive, Oak Street, and Clark Streets. We at Dean’s Team Chicago ranked it the “2nd most walkable neighborhood in Chicago,” with 85,347 residents. It’s also “very bikeable.”

Indeed!  The area is known for beautiful townhomes, luxury apartments, high-end boutiques, the former John Hancock Building, Water Tower Place, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the beautiful Newberry Library in Washington Square, and scenic views of the Lake Michigan shoreline on DuSable Lake Shore Drive. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Once known as the Astor Street District… 

According to, the neighborhood’s name comes from the wealth of the Chicago residents who first settled there. According to Choose Chicago, the Gold Coast was originally referred to as the Astor Street District. The name came from John Jacob Astor — one of the richest men in America in the 1800s and the founder of the American Fur Company. Even though he wasn’t from Chicago, the attachment of his name to the area drew in crowds of other wealthy individuals and families, including Potter Palmer, the dry goods mogul who eventually became one of the founders of Marshall Field and Company. He built several buildings along State Street, including the Palmer House Hotel. While many buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871, he rebuilt with partners. On the Gold Coast, he built a large mansion, which was razed in 1950.  

However, as retail stores and corporations moved in, several mansions, including the Charnley-Perksy House, designed by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, and the former Playboy Mansion, legendary for Hugh Hefner’s star-studded parties, still stand. The Playboy Mansion, 1340 North State Parkway, served as dorms for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago after Hefner moved to Los Angeles. According to the website Culture Trip, Hefner leased it out to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for five years at $10/year. Hefner had taken a figure drawing class there and decided it would be a good way to give back. It was renamed Hefner Hall and remained in the school’s possession until 1990. Today, today,the mansion/dorm has been refigured as condominiums. 

The Charnley-Persky House is recognized as a pivotal work of modern American architecture. The National Historic Landmark building serves as the headquarters of the Society of Architectural Historians.  The dramatic interior of the house is dominated by an atrium that soars from the first floor hall to a skylight two floors above. The house is open for tours. Click here for details. 

Gold Coast Neighbor’s Association (GCNA) Fall Mulch-A-Thon! 

With all the amazing scenery on the Gold Coast, it’s probably not a surprise that neighbors nurture their environment and keep the soil healthy. This Saturday, October 29, GCNA is hosting its annual  Fall Mulch-athon, from 9am-noon, at the intersection of North Dearborn Parkway and North Avenue, where Dearborn ends. As they say on their website, the trees need help in insulating the soil at their bases so they can survive our Chicago winter. Mulch, tools, gloves, training, trash bags, and snacks will be provided. Just bring your own water and wear clothes that can get dirty. To register, click the link below:

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago