Chicago's Gold Coast, which hugs Lake Michigan from Oak Street to North Avenue, is the city's most up-scale and exclusive neighborhood. Among these quiet, tree-lined streets you'll find elegant multi-million dollar brownstones, numerous historic mansions and some of the wealthiest families in Chicago. Surrounded by the lake to the east, Lincoln Park to the north, near-north dining and nightlife to the west and Michigan Avenue shopping to the south, this is an outstanding Chicago neighborhood and a great place to explore no matter the season. As you stroll through the neighborhood, it's hard to believe that this area consisted of undeveloped marshland and cemeteries up until the 1880s. In the early 1880s, Potter Palmer, a wealthy retailer turned real estate tycoon, bought much of the land in the area and built a mansion. The area was transformed as many other wealthy Chicagoans followed Potter's lead and moved north from Chicago's near south side. Of course, Potter made a fortune on his real estate holdings as the area developed. (As an aside, Potter was a master salesman. He revolutionized the world of retailing, and then sold his shop to Marshall Field. He also was responsible for developing Chicago's State Street commercial district and the Palmer House hotel.) Given the proximity to the Near North and Old Town dining and nightlife districts, you may want to combine this tour with our Old Town Tour.
To get to the Gold Coast, take the CTA Red Line north from the Loop to the Clark/Division stop. (The CTA Red Line is the city's main North-South rapid transit route. To catch the Red Line while in the Loop, enter the subway at various locations on State Street. Once in the subway, take a northbound Howard train.) Given the proximity to the downtown area, a cab ride from the Loop is also a viable alternative. (Approximate distance of walking tour: 1.5 miles.)