Length of Walk: Approximately 1.5 miles
Where it is located: These walks take you through the Gold Coast neighborhood of the Near North Community Area of Chicago. It is Walk #7 on the Walk Locations Map.
How we got there: There is limited parking in this neighborhood and it is expensive. Check Spot Hero or look for parking lots on Google Maps if you are determined to drive. The area is well served by public transportation and taxis are abundant.
This area is one of the most beautiful in the city. Historical mansions line leafy, quiet streets, yet it is a quick walk to many restaurants and exclusive shopping. It is no wonder the city’s wealthiest residents call this area home. There are many options for touring this neighborhood. The Chicago Architectural Foundation conducts walking tours here as well as several other companies. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I list links to two options below for self guided walking tours; one from Frommer’s and the other by MetrowalkZ.
Tourists from all over the world throng to this popular and storied neighborhood. A short walk from Michigan Avenue with restaurants galore, what better way to spend a free morning or afternoon. The highest property values in the city insure that these mansions and town homes are distinctive and in mint condition.
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. 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 Astor Street District forms the core of most walking tours. Constructed over a period of more than 100 years, the buildings along Astor Street reflect the fashionable styles favored by their original high-society residents. The numerous 19th-century houses are designed in a variety of historical revival styles, and are interspersed with apartment buildings and townhouses. It was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1975. Interestingly, Astor Street was named after John Jacob Astor who never lived in Chicago. Because he was one of the richest citizens in the United States in the mid 1800s, his name gave a luster to the area. (From Wikipedia)
The two self guided walking tours:
Frommer’s Walking Tour of the Gold Coast
MetrowalkZ Walking Tour of the Gold Coast (designed to be followed on your phone as you walk)
Additional Resources: Charnley House Landmark Designation Report , Wikipedia Entry about the Gold Coast, Wikipedia Entry about Astor Street, Gold Coast History