It feels a little wrong to be grouping these two neighborhoods together, despite their physical proximity, because they are about as similar as fire and ice. Gold Coast screams old money. You have beautiful brick buildings, tree-lined streets perfectly pruned, doormen greeting you as you walk by. And of course, what locals fondly call “Viagra Triangle,” aka the triangular courtyard (it feels wrong to call it a square, given it’s shape) surrounded by steakhouses with rich middle aged men and young women in short dresses dining at all hours. Just steps away, Old Town screams 26-year-olds-who-think-they’re-still-21. Questionable bars, boozy brunches that serve beer by the bucket and blast club music all weekend. A stark contrast, an ironic juxtaposition. Connected by a strange couple blocks of Division Street lined with old school watering holes and sleazy 4am clubs that for some reason open in the middle of the day.
Despite it all, I’m can’t help but be fond of this part of town. I used to live right on State Street, overlooking Lou Malnati’s and viagra triangle. I’d duck out the back door in the mornings to grab coffee from La Colombe. I was a regular at the Division Street farmers market. I’d take morning runs through the elegant residential streets up to Lincoln Park. On lazy days I would often detour to the scenic route, ducking under Lakeshore to Oak Street beach. Even Old Town has its charms, if you know where to look. As a visitor, I remember thinking Gold Coast was so far from the central part of town that I was all too familiar with. But it’s really just a short walk away from the heart of River North, and well worth that walk.