Gold Coast, Chicago Guide

Generally considered to be part of downtown Chicago, the Gold Coast is moments away from Lake Michigan and the Loop, making it one of the most expensive and exclusive areas in Chicago. Streeterville (the area east of the Magnificent Mile) is a smaller neighborhood in the Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast is one of the most glamorous neighborhoods in Chicago. Along with River North, the Magnificent Mile, Streeterville, and Old Town, this Near North Side community is located in the heart of the city along the shores of Lake Michigan. The Gold Coast is a unique blend of contemporary nightspots, shopping, and historic landmarks. Real estate includes vintage walkups, high-tech condos and historic mansions on Lake Shore Drive.

The Gold Coast and the Near North Side offer premium housing alongside art galleries, fine restaurants, luxury hotels, historic sites, and upscale shopping centers. Expressways and public transportation provide travel within the city and to and from surrounding suburbs.


Students in the Gold Coast area and Near North Side attend Chicago public schools. Renowned private and parochial schools offer an alternative to public education. Private elementary schools include Montessori School Near-North, and private high schools include the Latin School of Chicago, Francis Parker School, Quigley Seminary North and St. Ignatius College Prep. Colleges and universities located in the Near North Side include Rush University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and DePaul University.


The Gold Coast’s history dates back to the early days of Chicago. Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a fur trader of French-African descent, built the first settlement in 1779 at the mouth of the Chicago River. In 1830, lots were sold to finance the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which connected Chicago with the Mississippi River. In 1837, the town was incorporated with a population of just 4,170. Its name comes from an Indian word meaning “strong” or “great.”

On Oct. 8, 1871, a fire began on the West Side. Two days later, the Great Chicago Fire had claimed 300 lives, left 90,000 Chicagoans homeless and caused $200 million in property damage. After the disaster, the city rebuilt and today is a blend of old and new architecture.


The real estate market along Chicago’s Gold Coast comprises high-rise condominiums and townhouses, with a few single-family detached homes. Condos and townhouses range in price from the mid-$100,000s to $2 million and more for larger units with additional amenities. Single-family homes start in the mid-$500,000s, and prices can exceed $4 million for multistory estates in traditional, English and Victorian styles. Luxury high-rises offer beautiful views of Lake Michigan, and inland graystone and brownstone houses hearken back to the area’s turn-of-the-century neighborhoods.


The lakefront offers an array of activities, from boating and swimming to bike trails and jogging paths. Nearby, the Art Institute, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium promote fun and learning for all ages.


The Gold Coast is Chicago’s wealthiest neighborhood, and Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificent Mile” is among the most elite retail districts in the nation. The “Mile” features such exclusive shops as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Marshall Field’s. Gold Coast residents can walk to designer stores — such as Henri Bendel and Barney’s New York — as well as dozens of charming boutiques. Water Tower Place is an elaborate eight-floor indoor mall featuring more than 120 specialty shops, several restaurants and seven cinemas.

Location & Area

  • North Boundary: 1600 N North Ave
  • South Boundary: 800 N Chicago
  • East Boundary: ~200 E Lake Michigan
  • West Boundary: 150 W LaSalle
  • Primary Zip Code: 60611

Current Trends and Facts of Gold Coast Chicago

For Chicago visitors and residents, shopping is abundant. The Magnificent Mile runs through its southern tip, with designer boutiques, hotels, and fine cuisine. The John Hancock Center and Water Tower Place claim residence in the Gold Coast. Residents also enjoy beautiful Oak Street Beach and the beachfront parks and pleasures it provides. Navy Pier, Chicago’s number one tourist attraction, is a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike, providing a day’s worth of diversions with an amazing Ferris wheel, carousel, IMAX theater, dozens of shops and restaurants.

Navy Pier also has a wonderful Children’s Museum as well as concerts, performances, and events.on Lake Shore Drive. Over the next few decades, Chicago’s elite gradually migrated from Prairie Avenue to their new home north of the Loop.