4 Things to Do In…the Gold Coast!

Maxims, officially known as Maxims: the Nancy Goldberg Center, is an exact replica of the famous Paris restaurant Maxim’s de Paris with its art nouveau décor.

Since its beginnings just after the Great Fire, the Gold Coast has been known as Chicago’s upscale, tony district. Dotted with landmarked properties, most from the 1890s and the first decade of the 20th century, the area’s residential streets are lined with Victorian townhomes and mansions. The peace and gracefulness of these few blocks stand in stark contrast to Rush Street, the area’s thoroughfare well-known for its plentiful bars, restaurants, and boisterous night life.

The Gold Coast is not all high-end living, shopping and dining however. The neighborhood offers several ways to experience Chicago’s cultural scene, many quite affordable. Here are a few:

Relive the golden age of Paris at Maxim’s (24 E. Goethe St): Maxims, officially known as Maxims: the Nancy Goldberg Center, is an exact replica of the famous Paris restaurant Maxim’s de Paris with its art nouveau décor.  From the elegant spiral staircase to the dramatic scrollwork, Maxim’s provides an ambiance of classic luxury.   Maxim’s opened in 1963 as a restaurant and was the place to see and be seen.  Today the venue holds monthly cabaret performances and is rented by savvy brides and others looking for a unique setting for their events.

The original Maxim’s de Paris remains strong in popular culture. The location has been mentioned in books, songs, and films, including these instances:

  • An extended sequence in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds takes place in Maxim’s.
  • Owen Wilson’s and Marion Cotillard’s characters travel back in time to the Belle Époque and have dinner together at Maxim’s in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.
  • A lovely scene in the film Gigi, featuring a song entitled Waltz at Maxim’s, shows off the original restaurant’s special décor and ambiance. Take a look at the YouTube video here.

You can see Maxim’s distinct interior by making an appointment with the manager (312. 742.1748), or better yet, catching the popular Play On Cabaret performances on the second Tuesday of the month,  which feature Chicago’s finest musical talents singing jazz and standards.  www.maximschicago.org

See a French film at Alliance Française (810 N. Dearborn): This French cultural center offers French language classes, cooking classes, art shows, lectures, programs for children, and much more. A packed schedule of events offers you a variety of ways to experience the French lifestyle, from dropping in for a classic Catherine Deneuve film to participating in weekly book club discussions.

View the work of Chicago artists at Palette & Chisel – (1012 N. Dearborn): Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts a school, studios and gallery, dates to 1895; it’s been located in the Gold Coast since 1921. P&C was created to enable students, illustrators and fine artists to spend more time working from live models. The Palette & Chisel offers almost 70 hours per week of open studios featuring live models. The gallery is open most days and features the work of serious local artists.

Catch the local dance scene at Ruth Page Center for the Arts (1016 N. Dearborn): The Ruth Page Center is a vital pillar of Chicago’s dance community. Named after the influential 20th-century dancer and choreographer who lived in Chicago for most of her career, the Ruth Page Center offers a number of programs, including dance instruction for children and adults, a residency program for working professionals, and a theater that frequently showcases work by local artists. If it’s happening in dance in Chicago, it’s probably happening here!

For more information on neighborhood, including detailed attractions, shopping, and dining listings, check out our printable neighborhood guide and interactive Google map. For even more self-guided neighborhood treks, click here.

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