Chicago's Gold Coast: Staircases

Perhaps the biggest and best surprise of our recent Chicago visit was discovering the Gold Coast neighbourhood just north of the "Magnificient Mile" and not far from our Hotel Lincoln suite. It is predominately a residential community with wonderful tree-lined streets and stately apartment blocks that date back to the late 19th century.  

The front gardens are meticulously manicured and the boulevards are like little gardens with their little wrought iron fences protecting the flowers and shrubs.  But what really caught our eye were the many elegant staircases that create inviting and grand entrances.  

When visiting a city we encourage you to wander some of the residential communities to see how the locals live, both the rich and famous and the young and restless.  

This twin staircase was the one that capture our attention and made us stop in our tracks.  Does it get more inviting than this?  The black wrought iron is prevalent throughout Chicago. Like brick it is a timeless urban design element that should be employed more in urban neighbourhoods as it creates an immediate sense of place. 

This twin staircase was the one that capture our attention and made us stop in our tracks.  Does it get more inviting than this?  The black wrought iron is prevalent throughout Chicago. Like brick it is a timeless urban design element that should be employed more in urban neighbourhoods as it creates an immediate sense of place. 

Another curved staircase that demonstrates the importance of ornamentation and decoration to create pleasant walking streets in urban setting.  The flowers magnify the sense of beauty and pride of ownership. 

Another curved staircase that demonstrates the importance of ornamentation and decoration to create pleasant walking streets in urban setting.  The flowers magnify the sense of beauty and pride of ownership. 

Not all of the staircases were wrought iron.  This stone staircase provides a nice contrast to the black iron railing.  

Not all of the staircases were wrought iron.  This stone staircase provides a nice contrast to the black iron railing.  

The contrast of the white house and black railings creates an elegance that is timeless. There are lots of textures and lines that make the street visually interesting for pedestrians.  It is the visual complexity that makes the streets of the Gold Coast great pedestrian streets even though there are no shops.  It would be interesting to see what these streets are like in the winter with no vegetation. 

The contrast of the white house and black railings creates an elegance that is timeless. There are lots of textures and lines that make the street visually interesting for pedestrians.  It is the visual complexity that makes the streets of the Gold Coast great pedestrian streets even though there are no shops.  It would be interesting to see what these streets are like in the winter with no vegetation. 

Another twin staircase to an upper door that is very rich in its ornamentation.  While the entrance is gated you don't feel shut out like you do with the six foot wood fences so prevalent in new subdivisions.  The lines are clean, concise and clear; making for a inviting sense of space. There is a wonderful interplay of the shadows and light from trees and decorative elements that soften the entire urban landscape. 

Another twin staircase to an upper door that is very rich in its ornamentation.  While the entrance is gated you don't feel shut out like you do with the six foot wood fences so prevalent in new subdivisions.  The lines are clean, concise and clear; making for a inviting sense of space. There is a wonderful interplay of the shadows and light from trees and decorative elements that soften the entire urban landscape. 

The Gold Coast should be on everyone's list of places to visit when in Chicago.  It should also be an inspiration and lesson for developers and planners on the importance of ornamentation and decoration for creating inviting pedestrian streetscapes.