Magnificent Mile In Downtown Chicago
Downtown Chicago is at the heart of the American Midwest and at the center of this tourist and economic hub sits the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago, one of the most compelling boulevards in the world. To gaze upon this majestic avenue is to feel it. Stunning architecture, mighty skyscrapers, memorable views and an unparalleled community spirit characterize the one and only Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago.
In this spectacular setting, residential and commercial properties flow seamlessly along North Michigan Avenue creating indelible impressions that are marveled by tourists and cherished by fortunate residents. Like every great boulevard, the Magnificent Mile of downtown Chicago has a remarkable history of vision, planning, preservation, and grandeur.
“Chicago happened slowly, like a migraine. First, they were driving through the countryside, then, imperceptibly, the occasional town became a low suburban sprawl, and the sprawl became the city.” - Neil Gaiman, "American Gods"
The Magnificent Mile is described by the association’s charter as: “a large area bordered by Randolph Street to the south, North Avenue to the north, Lake Michigan to the east and the Chicago River to the west.”
The five prominent neighborhoods within the Magnificent Mile include:
The 13-block expanse of North Michigan Avenue that runs from the banks of the Chicago River on the south to Oak Street on the north is marked by spectacular residences, striking condos, prominent retail outlets, fashionable boutiques, delightful restaurants, renowned museums, glorious hotels, towering skyscrapers and some of the world’s most prestigious educational and medical centers. These striking elements blend together to make the Magnificent Mile in Downtown Chicago the economic and cultural epicenter of America’s Midwest.
Brief History of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile
Marked by passion, foresight, determination and an undeterred vision of community, the history of The Magnificent Mile can only be described as remarkable. The Water Tower and Pumping Station, built by William Boyington, sat resolutely at the intersection of Michigan Avenue, formerly Pine Street, and Chicago Avenue and was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Fire of 1871. This historic structure is emblematic of the city’s strength, rebirth, and growth since that devastating tragedy.
The “Chicago Plan” was developed in 1909 by local developers who envisioned transforming Michigan Avenue from a dated Indian Post into an inspirational commercial boulevard. The street was widened and a bridge was built as developers sought to emulate the Champs Elysees in Paris. To protect the grand boulevard from flooding, a series of landfills equal to 125 acres was created to stabilize the Michigan Avenue shoreline.
The Magnificent Mile Association was formed in 1912. The organization was officially dedicated to improving, beautifying and promoting the Magnificent Mile in Downtown Chicago and has steadfastly maintained that posture ever since. The boulevard soon transformed from a country thoroughfare into an “in demand” destination and has only improved with time.
Prior to the Great Depression and fueled by the construction of the double-decker DuSable Bridge, Michigan Avenue underwent a dynamic building boom. The architectural wonder of the Wrigley building attracted businesses and shoppers who eagerly traversed the gateway bridge to Chicago’s swanky north side. The Wrigley building was modeled after the Seville’s Giralda Tower and the south side of the Wrigley building stood an impressive 30 stories tall.
During his epic period of growth and destiny, the Tribune Tower was commissioned. John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood were the victors of a contest sponsored by the Tribune’s owners to “create a monument that would commemorate 75 years of achievement and become an inspiration to further building.”
Interestingly, the façade of the building featured stones from famous structures around the word, including the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and Notre Dame Cathedral. All the stones were gifts from Tribune publisher, Colonel Robert McCormick.
As expected, other buildings sprung up along Michigan Avenue. The Allerton Hotel Magnificent Mile Chicago at 701 N. Michigan Ave, InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile at 505 N. Michigan Ave. and the celebrated Drake Hotel at 140 E. Walton Place came to life across the gateway bridge. The Woman’s Club at 626 N. Michigan Avenue and the splendid Fourth Presbyterian Church brought treasured cultural ambiance to the Magnificent Mile downtown Chicago and the hotels on Michigan Ave.
In 1929, the Great Stock Market Crash put an end to the remarkable expansion. But, in 1947 a robust promotional effort led by head of The Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, Arthur Rubloff, led to a revitalization of the area. It was Rubloff who coined the phrase “The Magnificent Mile” and who encouraged renovation of existing structures and endorsed new construction.
In 1959, small Italian twinkle lights first appeared on trees in front of Saks 5th Avenue. Word of an iconic holiday trend soon spread across the nation.
1970 marked the opening of the John Hancock Center on the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. With 100 stories, it was the tallest building in the world. At a cost of $100 million, the building housed residential apartments, commercial office space, and retail outlets.
This landmark was followed by the 1975 opening of the Water Tower, another multi-purpose architectural marvel that featured retail space, outstanding restaurants, entertainment, a hotel and residential units. This momentous structure further solidified the Magnificent Mile’s reputation as a sophisticated community and cultural center.
Between 1988 and 2001, another impressive building boom on Michigan Avenue gained traction. The 871 foot skyscraper – hotel at 900 N. Michigan was the 31st tallest building in the US. Today, a Four Seasons Hotel, six levels of retail stores, offices and beautiful condos with lakeside views populate the building.
Soon after, the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago saw the rise of Chicago Place, Crate and Barrel, 676 N. Michigan Ave. and 600 N. Michigan Ave. and a host of other renovated properties sprung to life. Chicago and the Magnificent Mile were alive and well and firmly entrenched as the tourist and economic capital of the Midwest.
After years of community input, Vision 2012 was launched in 1997 by the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association’s Planning Preservation and Urban Design Committee (PPUD). Construction of the North Bridge District, a nine-block, mixed-use entertainment development soon followed. Today, the North Bridge District offers a four-tiered retail mall with upscale retailers like Nordstrom and others. In 2001, the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association registered a trademark for The Magnificent Mile.
In 2009, the statuesque Trump International Hotel and Tower was completed. At 1,389 feet Trump Tower Chicago became the second tallest building in Chicago and Donald Trump Chicago was settled in a fitting location.
The Magnificent Mile Today
Today, property owners, including owners of the Wrigley Building, London House, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Nike, Burberry and others continuously reinvest to attract residents and consumers to the Magnificent Mile. Crisp, innovative marketing campaigns successfully attract millions of consumers and thousands of happy residents to this amazingly convenient and picturesque community.
With a remarkable blend of style, entertainment, fine dining cultural museums and educational outlets, the Magnificent Mile features more than 460 stores, 275 restaurants, 60 hotels, sumptuous residences, extraordinary condos and some of the greatest attractions in the world. Truly, there is something for everyone on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
Restaurants And Fine Dining On The Magnificent Mile
As might be expected, an upscale community and tourist haven like the Magnificent Mile offers some of the greatest restaurants and fine dining experiences in the world. The Magnificent Mile proudly boasts 89 highly regarded national and international restaurants.
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Bandera Restaurant, Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen, The Purple Pig, Lawry’s The Prime Rib and Ditka’s Restaurant are a few examples of the most revered restaurants on the Magnificent Mile. For a more complete list, Trip Advisor is an excellent resource.
Magnificent Mile Demographics
The Magnificent Mile actually consists of 1.351 square miles. The population is about 45,520 persons, 65% of who are female.
- 38% of the Magnificent Mile residents are between the ages of 18 and 24. 15% are between 55 years and 64 years. 20% of the population is 65 or older.
- 73% of the population is white, 15% is black and 7% is Asian.
- 40% of the residents on the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago have a Master’s Degree or higher. Meanwhile, 44% hold a Bachelor’s Degree and another 15% have some college experience and/or an associate’s degree.
- 34% of the Magnificent Mile population earns $150 or more. 31% earns between $45,000 and $47,000 annually. 9% of residents earn between $75,000 and $149,000 per year.
On the whole, the Magnificent Mile downtown Chicago community is economically solid and educationally advanced. All are welcome and a general sense of appreciation exists where ever you are or whatever you are doing on The Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago.
“Yet once you’ve come to be part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But, never a lovely so real.” – Nelson Algren, "Chicago: City on the Make"
Real Estate Analysis: The Magnificent Mile
Arthur Rubloff’s vision has come true. Today, The Magnificent Mile Chicago offers more than 3,100,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, hotel and museum space. The commercial real estate market is the 8th most expensive in the nation.
In 2007, the American Planning Association named the Magnificent Mile one of the 10 Great Streets in America. Ever since, the boulevard has seen a rise in trees and flower-filled medians.
The Magnificent Mile boasts three urban shopping centers including Water Tower Place, The Shops at North Bridge and 900 North Michigan. All the most famous retailers in the country are represented here.
Museums On The Magnificent Mile In Downtown Chicago
Chicago is blessed with more than 100 museums. As testament to the cultural nature of the Magnificent Mile and the strong sense of community, many of the most prominent museums are on or within walking distance of North Michigan Avenue. The broad spectrum of museums helps ensure the Magnificent Mile is not only the cultural center of the Midwest but is a compelling tourist center.
Below is a sampling of some museums near the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago.
- Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA)
- The Da Vinci Machines Exhibition
- McCormick Freedom Project
- Richard Gray Gallery
- The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery
- Chicago Sports Museum
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Chicago History Museum
- Museum Of Contemporary Art Chicago
- The Art Institute of Chicago
- Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum
- Chicago’s Children’s Museum
- The Field Museum
- Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
- Chicago Fed’s Money Museum
For more information about these museums or others near the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago, please consult Trip Advisor.
Whether you are planning a visit to the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago or looking for a commercial or residential property, you are sure to sense the exuberance that is the city and this wondrous boulevard. If The Delphine Team can help in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.