Chicago's Gold Coast (Images of America Series)

Chicago's Gold Coast (Images of America Series)

by Wilbert Jones, Kathleen Willis-Morton, Maureen O?Brien
     
 

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What was once described as an undesirable swampland has been transformed into one of the most beautiful and wealthiest neighborhoods in America. Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, developed in the late 1800s, was first called the Astor Street District. It was named after one of the first multimillionaires in the United States, John Jacob Astor--even though Astor…  See more details below

Overview


What was once described as an undesirable swampland has been transformed into one of the most beautiful and wealthiest neighborhoods in America. Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, developed in the late 1800s, was first called the Astor Street District. It was named after one of the first multimillionaires in the United States, John Jacob Astor--even though Astor never lived in Chicago. In 1885, Astor Street District's first mansion was built. Potter Palmer, a dry goods merchant and owner of the Palmer House Hotel, built his palatial, castle-like residence on the corner of Lake Shore Drive and Banks Street; inside the Palmer mansion were 42 lavishly furnished rooms, which required 26 servants to maintain. Many wealthy Chicagoans followed Palmer's lead and built mansions in the neighborhood. Several homes took up an entire city block and, as time progressed, the name Gold Coast was adopted. On January 30, 1978, the entire Gold Coast district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Three Gold Coast residents have written a book about their neighborhood.

"Chicago's Gold Coast" is the latest addition to Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series, recognizable by the South Carolina company's signature sepia cover photo.

"This neighborhood has so much history and there are so many interesting properties and people who have lived in the area, I think people will enjoy learning about it," said Maureen O'Brien, a real estate broker in the area and a past president of the Gold Coast Neighborhood Association. She wrote the book with Wilbert Jones, a food-product developer and cookbook author; and Kathleen Willis Morton, a memoir author.

History buffs will enjoy the references to wealthy Chicagoans like Potter Palmer and other titans of industry who transformed ""an undesirable swampland"" into one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America.

I spent the holiday combing through the dozens of pictures of old mansions and new high-rises trying to figure out who lived where. Homeowners' names are for the most part left out of the captions, though it's easy to figure out a few of them. I recognized the ""tiny section of the penthouse at 65 East Goethe Street"" as the home of chewing gum heir Bill Wrigley Jr. He purchased it in 2002 for just under $9.1 million and then put it on the market for $14 million. When the recession hit and there were no buyers, he split up the penthouse into three units.

""We didn't want to make it a society book,"" says Mr. Jones. ""Names come and go. We wanted to focus on the architecture."" Still, a few notable names pop up. Philanthropist and architecture buff Richard Driehaus offers a humorous foreword to the book on how he found his home in the Gold Coast. Jazz artist Ramsey Lewis and auctioneer Leslie Hindman offer some insights on why they love living there.

And there's the riveting story of attorney Richard Schulze's home, which he owns with his wife, Peggy, who is Ms. O'Brien's sister. "When the garage was under construction, a concrete box containing human bones over 100 years old was unearthed,"" the authors write. ""This discovery confirmed that a large part of the Gold Coast was once a cemetery.""

Crain's Chicago Business

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738591773
Publisher:
Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
07/09/2012
Series:
Images of America Series
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
1,104,839
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author


Contributing authors Wilbert Jones, Maureen V. O'Brien, and Kathleen Willis Morton are longtime residents of the Gold Coast neighborhood. Bob Dowey is an experienced freelance photographer who has photographed many of Chicago's biggest events.

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