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HomeMission and History

John Wellborn Root's home on Astor Street. He designed The Rookery (209 S LaSalle) with his design partner Daniel Burnham.

Mission & History

The Gold Coast Neighbors Association's mission is to build a sense of community and enhance our quality of life by:

  • advocating on behalf of our members,
  • serving as a forum for community issues and historical education,
  • fostering friendship among our neighbors and
  • promoting safety, preservation and beautification.

To further our mission we will:

  • Partner - GCNA will actively partner with Aldermen, other officials, agencies and associations to leverage our effectiveness.
  • Educate/Inform - GCNA will effectively communicate with residents and officials regarding matters of importance to the neighborhood.
  • Support - GCNA will direct our resources to specific initiatives in support of our mission.

Gold Coast Neighbors Association was originally founded as the North State and Astor Community Association on July 20, 1957. Norton Smith Jr., who lived on North State Parkway, was the driving force behind the association's formation. The stated purposes of the organization were to:

  • improve and maintain the neighborhood,
  • preserve, maintain and develop the residential integrity of the area,
  • discourage violations of existing and future building and zoning codes,
  • discourage illegal conversions and/or usages of present structures and
  • encourage the maintenance and improvement of the buildings, streets and sidewalks in the community.

These purposes have endured for over a half-century and remain our priorities today. At its inception, regular membership was limited to homeowners, with an associate category for those who did not own property. And unlike today, there were no commercial members.


In 1962, the name was changed to include reference to Lake Shore Drive. Originally, eight other streets were within the boundaries but not named: Burton, Schiller, Banks, Goethe, Stone, Scott, Ritchie and Division. In the mid -1980s four additional streets were added: East Lake Shore Drive, Elm, Cedar and Bellevue, although the association's name remained unchanged. The board of directors was about the size of the current board and directors were subject to removal from office after three absences in a single year.


From its earliest days, the Association put a high priority on neighborhood beautification, giving recognition for outstanding efforts, and on taxation issues. We continue to advocate for these issues, as well as zoning.


The first "Evening on Astor" was held on Sept. 13,1982, on Astor Street between Banks and Goethe streets, a venue which has endured through all the years. The event featured music and magic, balloons and bands and even gumdrops. Its early organizers were very cautious in those days, stating that "for security reasons, only residents of our area will receive announcements and no publicity or advertising is planned.


In 1996, under the leadership of longtime board member Betty Zeni, a spring benefit, called Echoes which is now Toast to the Coast, was inaugurated and initially held at the Fortnightly Club. The party has evolved into an elegant and fun-filled evening that raises significant funds to support the educational and preservation efforts of the association. In recent years, it was often held at the legendary Maxim's before it closed and most recently has been held at the legendary Racquet Club.


Through the years, our association will continue to protect and enhance our very special neighborhood.