A Squared: City Walk #16: Gold Coast

Monday, December 3, 2012

City Walk #16: Gold Coast

I don't know what is going on in Chicago right now, but it is December and I could almost describe the weather as warm.  It's weird.  I'm on my way to Florida for work this week (and here I was hoping that the southeastern weather would be a reprieve from a Chicago December... boy, was I wrong!), so Alex and I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and our time together and go for a walk on Sunday afternoon.  This time around we chose the Gold Coast City Walk card.  Since we wanted to maximize our time outside in the warmish weather this was a good one since it was heavy on architecture and less so on shops, restaurants, and museums like some of the others.
 The Gold Coast is a really interesting Chicago neighborhood.  It's the northern edge of what we'd consider "downtown" and is home to Chicago's most elite residents and the majority of Chicago's luxury homes.  Although we don't spend a lot of time here (we are budget conscious newlyweds, after all) we have made it to this area a handful of times-- including our first trip here back in 2007 when Alex was trying to woo me into the idea of moving here by taking me to dinner at Carmine's on Rush Street.  I guess it worked.  :)

I'm also relatively familiar with the homes in this neighborhood since I work in luxury real estate marketing.  We work pretty closely with our member companies here in Chicago so I get some fun exposure to these phenomenal homes.  You can check out some of the details on Chicago's finest homes here.  In the meantime, let's talk about the City Walk!

The Walk begins at Oak St. & Rush St. and heads north, basically walking us right through the epicenter of shopping, restaurants, and bars.  Our first stop is on E. Elm St. at #77 [1].  It's a really beautiful home with details that reminded me of the palazzos you see along the canals in Venice.  I was sad to see that this home appeared to be vacant... what a shame!
After a walk down Elm Street we turned back on to State  and then jogged over to N. Astor where there were a few architecturally significant homes to check out.  The first was #1248 [2], notable for the turret detail on the north side of the home.  Next up was a 2-for-1 just a block away: #1308 and #1310 [3], a duplex (if you can call a home of that size a duplex) with some really gorgeous details.


 The next stop was not an official stop on the City Walk, nor was it even highlighted which came as a bit of a surprise to these two architects.  The Charnley-Persky House (formerly known as the James Charnley House) is located at the corner of Astor & Schiller.  The home was designed by acclaimed architect Louis Sullivan and his young design apprentice Frank Lloyd Wright in 1892.  The home was purchased by the design firm of Skidmore Owings & Merrill in 1986 and was restored shortly thereafter.  It was then purchased by Seymour Persky in 1995 who donated the home to the Society of Architectural Historians.  They changed the name of the home to honor Mr. Persky and now operate the house as a museum.  I've had the pleasures of touring Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and Robie House already, so I have made a mental note to come back for a visit here too.

Next, we walked over to Lakeshore Drive to the International Museum of Surgical Science [4].  It's a building that I have passed many times on my old commute when I was working up in the Lakeview neighborhood.  I still didn't have the stomach to go inside though.  The museum highlights the evolution of surgical techniques and I'm afraid I am a bit too squeamish for that! 


We wandered back over to Astor to find the next stop and had a bit of trouble finding it... because it no longer exists.  I'm not sure when these cards were written, but we were told to look for the former home of Robert McCormick, one-time owner of the Chicago Tribune at #1519 [5].  Well, we found an old highrise at 1515 and then a newer looking luxury home at 1520-something.  No #1519 to be found-- only this sign in between the two dedicated to Mr. McCormick.  I did some digging and apparently the home was demolished at least 10 years ago.  Get it together, City Walks!

We walked all the way up to the end of the street (where it meets North Avenue and the foot of Lincoln Park) is a really spectacular building: the Archbishop's Residence [6].  It is a Queen Anne style building with a total of 19 chimneys and a lovely porte-cochère on the North Avenue side.

Last, but certainly not least, we headed south on State toward #1340.  We probably couldn't have found a building more different to visit after the Archbishop's Residence than the original Playboy Mansion [7].  Yes, before it was established in Los Angeles, Playboy was based here in Chicago and this State Parkway mansion was home to Hugh Hefner and the bunnies back in the day.  Since then it has been divided up into a series of multimillion dollar condominiums.  Can you imagine telling people that you live in the Playboy Mansion?  Talk about a conversation piece.

Happy Monday, readers!  I have a few posts coming your way while I'm in Sarasota this week, but will hopefully have a few photos and a smidge of a tan (wishful thinking) to show for my visit when it's over.  I'll be going on some fun property tours while I am there so be sure to follow me on Instagram (@Annabel817) and Twitter (@aasquaredblog) for some snapshots and updates from my trip!

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