Chicago Relocation

My Kind of Neighborhood – Goldcoast and Streeterville

October 21, 2013

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Chicago neighborhoods
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John D’Ambrogio

Gold Coast, Streeterville, Mag Mile, North Loop……yes, if you live there you have your own particular fondness for which name is most accurate.  Oops, I forgot the New East Side.   Let’s talk about these subset, adjoining neighborhoods since they all share great residential housing, a rich history and great entertainment/shopping/nightlife.

Back in the day life along Pine Street (Michigan Ave.) got pretty quiet north of the Chicago River.  Then 1871 arrived with the Great Chicago Fire which pretty much flattened the city from the near south to the mid-north.  In fact, the Gold Coast hosts the only surviving public buildings pre-fire – The iconic Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station.

The area really began to pick up in the late 19th century and early 20th. when Potter Palmer, one of the richest guys around, made a bold statement by leaving the south Gold Coast on Prairie Ave. for life north of the river.   Speaking of the river, the coastline north of the river ran about even with Michigan at this time.  There were sand bars that extended out and, some say, rubbish from the Chicago Fire was dumped there as well.  This made the area est of Michigan ave. a pseudo inhabitable, if not wet, space.

Back to our story, enter (so-called) Capt. George Streeter  claimed that his boat which was stuck in a sandbar now owned that piece of Chicago.  Just like a 19th century Columbus.  I wish I knew the guy.  He had some gumption.  Streeter even sold and taxed portions of “Streeterville” (ah, now you see where I was going).  He waged lengthy court battles attempting to validate his claim. Guess what? In 1918 the courts ruled he did not own the land. But it was too late! The name stuck.

In the 1920s some semblance of today’s “Magnificent Mile” began to take shape.  The addition of The Michigan Ave. Bridge with the “canyon” of beautiful steel and stone emerged (check out Jack Nixon’s lovely pencil drawings of the bridge.  The bridge kicks off the mile starting at the Wrigley Building (as Old Blue Eyes sang and Sammy Cahn wrote back in ‘64).   Much of the Mile’s development was lead by real estate newcomer Arthur Rubloff.  He was new compared to the Baird Family.  I had the true pleasure of working with a student of Arthur Rubloff’s for many years while I was at Arthur’s namesake real estate firm (and now franchise). Wow, I’ve been able to work at some good companies in my career…..

As development down the Mag Mile continued, luxury condominiums followed suit. Today this is known as one of the most upscale, pricey, and truly luxurious areas in the country.

The neighborhood also hosts Navy Pier and a lovely  bike and jogging path along the lake (well, institutional concrete, but the view is lovely).  You can also drive between the Gold Coast and the lake up and down Lake Shore Drive (LSD).  Buy if you do drive, please slow down.  Us old timers remember the “S” curve at Oak but it seems many weekends some yokel fails to recall the treacherous “S” and manages to tangle up traffic.

If you want a great “from the bathtub” view of Streeterville/Gold Cost, swim along LSD among the triathlete training at Ohio St. Beach.  It’s a one-of-a-kind view.

It’s easy to enjoy this neighborhood without living here.  Stroll up North Michigan Ave all the way to Oak Street Beach where the Lake comes back into sight .  You might as well do a little shopping on the way.  Where? Burberry? Armani? Chanel? Versace? Louis Vuitton? Prada? Cartier? I bet you’ll find a place.

If you’re just visiting and need a place to stay, well you’ve got places to choose from!  Within a block or two you’ve got The Peninsula, The Ritz Carlton and The Four Seasons.   Of course if you need to get out of town quick you can buy Bentley or Lamborghini right in the neighborhood.  Not too shabby….

I could rattle off the A-List restaurants there, including classic Chicago institutions like the 95th at the Hancock, Spiaggia, Tavern, Le Colonial, or the myriad of great steak houses (think institutions like Cap Grille, Gibsons).  OR I could go on about Viagra Triangle’s night life at State/Rush/Bellevue  (I’ll let you look that up).  Just don’t forget the more quiet places, like the BASEMENT at the Hancock where you can grab a slice or a fantastic arancini at L’Appetito. Or head over to Pizanno’s Pizza and Pasta on State.

Finally, raise your hand if you ever had “one of those nights” in Rock and Roll Heaven at Ye Olde Hanggee Uppe. OK, put your hands down.



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