Welcome to Chicago

William J. Robb III, MD

By William J. Robb III, MD
Chair, Local Host Committee

Greetings and welcome to Chicago! As the local chairman, I am delighted to welcome the orthopaedic community and its many guests to the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)—the first Annual Meeting to be held in Chicago in more than 35 years.

The first Annual Meeting was held in Chicago in 1933, at Northwestern University’s Thorne Hall, with about 50 orthopaedists in attendance. The last Chicago meeting, in 1970, featured 49 papers and 100 instructional courses. Compare those statistics to the more than 8,000 AAOS members attending this year, and the more than 1,175 papers, posters and instructional courses offerings.

While you take advantage of the vast range of programs available at this meeting, I hope you’ll also take time to enjoy Chicago—the home of the AAOS, and one of the most culturally sophisticated and diverse cities in the world.

Natural wonders
If the weather cooperates, take a walk along Chicago’s dazzling lakefront. More than 170 years ago, the city’s leaders declared that the Lake Michigan lakefront would remain “forever open, clear and free.” As a result, you can enjoy 31 miles of parks and unobstructed lakefront. If you have some free time, head over to Oak Street Beach—just steps from Michigan Avenue—or stroll east along the new walkway beside the Chicago River. You may also enjoy a walk through Grant Park or the stunning new Millennium Park. Already considered one of the best urban spaces in the world, Millennium Park is an extraordinary showplace for monumental sculpture, music, architecture and landscape design.

Cultural attractions
As the birthplace of the skyscraper, Chicago is a veritable museum of modern architecture, with buildings by Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn and hundreds of others. If you have time, sign up for one of the city’s year-round architectural walking (and bus) tours.

Museum buffs will want to check out Chicago’s scenic museum campus—just north of McCormick Place—that conveniently joins the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. The Field Museum is home to “Sue,” the world’s largest and best-preserved T-Rex, as well as the fascinating special exhibition, “Pompeii: Stories from an Eruption.” South of the campus, in the Hyde Park neighborhood, is the Museum of Science and Industry—one of the most visited museums in the world. Art lovers will enjoy the Museum of Contemporary Art and the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, both within walking distance of Michigan Avenue hotels.

The Chicago cultural tour doesn’t end there! The city’s vital theatre community includes dozens of companies such as Steppenwolf, Lookinglass and the Goodman Theatre, which is currently showcasing the works of David Mamet, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago playwright. The restored downtown theatre district sparkles with original dramas as well as Broadway musicals, like the current mega-hit “Wicked.”

Chicago’s music scene is as vibrant and diverse as the rest of the city. The downtown Symphony Center is home to the world-famous Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by musical director Daniel Barenboim. Just a short stroll will take you to Buddy Guy's Legends nightclub, Blue Chicago or the House of Blues. For real Chicago jazz, check out Andy's Jazz Club, Pops for Champagne or Green Dolphin Street.

Shopping and sports
This city’s reputation as shoppers’ paradise began on State Street (that great street!), with the opening of the original Marshall Field's department store in 1868. State Street is also home to the Carson Pirie Scott flagship store—housed in a landmark Louis Sullivan-designed building—as well as numerous other shops. To the north, Chicago’s famed “Magnificent Mile”–which runs along Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to the Chicago River—offers 460 top retailers in just eight city blocks. A number of vertical shopping malls line the avenue, such as Water Tower Place, Westfield North Bridge, Chicago Place and 900 North Michigan. The upscale boutiques of nearby Oak Street are set off by Lake Michigan and the glorious city skyline.

Chicagoans are known for their devotion to their sports teams, so why not catch a game while you’re in town? The Bulls take on the New Orleans Hornets this Friday night at the United Center, just a short cab ride from Michigan Avenue. Hockey fans will love the atmosphere of a Chicago Blackhawks’ home game, like the one against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, also at the United Center.

If I had to make just one guarantee, it would be that you won’t leave this town hungry. Chicago has one of the most vibrant restaurant scenes in the country. Whether you’re in the mood for haute cuisine, authentic ethnic fare, or a deep-dish pizza, you’ll find it here in abundance.

Thank you
Though we regret that the meeting couldn’t be held in New Orleans as planned, I—along with honorary New Orleans local chairmen, Ollie Edmunds Jr., MD, and Ralph P. Katz, MD—want to welcome all of you to Chicago, and thank you for the loyalty you’ve shown the Academy. Despite the change in host city and meeting date, early registration numbers indicate this meeting will likely be the largest the Academy has ever held. That says a lot about our members, as well as about the convenience and desirability of Chicago as a destination.

Fortunately, those high attendance numbers are also good news for the people of New Orleans. Thanks to arrangements made with the Chicago hospitality industry, for every hotel room used by AAOS attendees, $10 (per room, per night) will be donated to a fund to help hospitality workers of New Orleans whose livelihood is affected by the loss of convention business. The more people who attend this meeting, the greater the financial contribution will be. According to current estimates, Chicago’s hospitality community will be sending more than half a million dollars back to New Orleans.

I hope that all of you find your time here rewarding and educational. Learn and grow at the meeting, but don’t forget to have some fun in Chicago!


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