Some of the ritziest real estate in the world can be found on the so-called "Millionaires' Miles" or "Gold Coasts," oh-so-exclusive residential areas in scenic areas of cities across the globe where luxury housing is the norm for the 1 (or .001) percent. For the rest of us, they're gorgeous avenues to wander down and take in the architecture. Read on to explore eight of them -- some famous, some ritzy, some historic, and some you might not expect -- around the world.
It all started when Potter Palmer campaigned Chicago to link up his 1882 mansion — the largest residence in town — with the city’s downtown in 1899 via an unpaved boulevard. It quickly became the hot spot in town for an afternoon promenade, and Chicago’s elite flocked there to build their own mansions. Today we know this stretch as Chicago’s Gold Coast, a neighborhood of ritzy properties between Lake Shore Drive and North Clark Street. Beaches and parks abound in this neighborhood, thanks to retailer Montgomery Ward. Sadly, Palmer’s mansion was torn down in 1950, but his legacy lives on through this Millionaires’ Mile. Check out the Astor Street District within the neighborhood, which is one of the most picturesque areas of Chicago.
2. Boulevard des Belges, Lyon, France
Home to a stunning mix of late-19th- and early-20th-century architecture, this residential area in Lyon’s sixth arrondissement lines a wide, tree-lined boulevard. It didn’t have the most auspicious beginnings — it was built on the site of the ditches of Lyon’s old walls — but by the turn of the 20th century, grand buildings began to spring up. Home to Napoleon III–style edifices by Baron Haussmann, Art Nouveau masterpieces, and buildings by Le Corbusier, the row has strict regulations for construction: For instance, each house is limited to three stories. Lyon’s wealthy citizens who live on this street are identified only by their initials on door plaques.
3. Oriental Parade, Wellington, New Zealand
Known in New Zealand as the “Riviera of the South,” the area has come far from its early days as a spot for quarantined patients and whalers boiling blubber. With a population of just over 1,300 people, the neighborhood is now prized for its beaches — the closest ones to Wellington proper — and is a spot for big events in the city like the Sky Show. It’s also a hot spot for Wellington’s elite, with luxe apartment buildings alongside Neoclassical homes that sell for a pretty penny.
4. Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri
Still one of Kansas City’s most desirable neighborhoods, the stretch of mid-1920s houses known as Ward Parkway is located on one of the city’s famous boulevards of the same name. The area was planned in conjunction with the building of the Country Club Plaza — America’s first shopping center designed for auto drivers. Kansas City’s reputation for having an abundance of fountains can partly credit the medians of the wide boulevard, named one of 2012’s 10 Great Streets by the American Planning Association, which shows off plenty of water features and statues. According to one article from a local news station, Scott Ward, head of Russell Stover; Peter Brown, CEO and co-founder of AMC Theaters; and Richard Bloch, co-founder of H&R Block, have all lived there at one time. Today many of its Neoclassical Revival, Prairie-style, and Antebellum homes are on the National Historic Register.
5. Westmount, Island of Montreal, Canada
Once the richest neighborhood in all of Canada, the suburb of Westmount on the Island of Montreal today is still incredibly affluent. Perched on the southwest side of Mount Royal, the town (which is an enclave of Montreal, meaning that though it is within the city’s borders, it stands as its own municipality) came to prominence in the 20th century. It was one of the main sites of the bombings that eventually led to Canada’s October crisis in 1970. Its 2002 annexation into Montreal proper was highly controversial and was reversed four years later, though the town is still part of the larger metro area and shares resources like police and transportation with the island. The average annual income for Westmount was nearly $200,000 in 2000, outpacing the rest of Montreal. The houses at the top of the mountain — especially those in an area known as Summit Circle — remain some of the toniest on the island.
6. Beacon Hill, Boston
Just one square mile in size, Beacon Hill is Boston’s own Gold Coast. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and its design still reflects the city’s colonial days (check out the ironwork if you’re there). It’s been home to Louisa May Alcott, Daniel Webster, John Kerry, and Sylvia Plath throughout the years, and the houses in this protected historic district — particularly at the “Flat of the Hill” and on the southern slope — are still among the most expensive and desirable in Boston. Visitors should stroll down Acorn Street, pictured here, if they’re looking for one of the most charming lanes.
7. Kensington Palace Gardens, London
Sales of houses on this street tend to make headlines — and for good reason. Price tags tend to hover around the £100 million (about $125 million) mark. After all, it’s not just Millionaires’ Mile on this stretch, but “Billionaires’ Row.” As the street’s name suggests, it’s located in West London’s posh Kensington neighborhood (you might know it from the nearby palace), and it’s Britain’s most expensive street. International investors have sprung on the market: The Saudi royal family was estimated to own at least 10 homes on the street in 2013, and the Sultan of Brunei was rumored to have a residence, too.
8. Severn Road, Hong Kong
Named the world’s most expensive street more than once, a square meter of real estate on Severn Road in Hong Kong was going for $78,200 in 2011. Around just 60 homes are located on this ultra-exclusive strip, which looks out onto Hong Kong’s harbors and skyline.
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