ASHA Convention 2008 “Celebrating the Winds of Change” ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage  |   July 01, 2008
ASHA Convention 2008
Author Notes
  • Ingrida Lusis, production editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at
    Ingrida Lusis, production editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage   |   July 01, 2008
ASHA Convention 2008
The ASHA Leader, July 2008, Vol. 13, 20-21. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.13092008.20
The ASHA Leader, July 2008, Vol. 13, 20-21. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.13092008.20
Despite its “Windy City” nickname, Chicago’s climate is not particularly blustery—even in November. (The moniker originated in the 1800s as the city, competing with other Midwestern sites to attract business, heavily promoted its attributes and advantages. The city’s overabundance of wordy, drawn-out politicians added yet another nuance to the term.) But those attending ASHA’s 2008 Convention in November won’t need strong air currents to keep them energized. A plethora of attractions awaits, including towering skyscrapers (some of the country’s first), exciting cultural enclaves, world-class museums and shopping, authentic ethnic restaurants—and of course, legendary deep-dish pizza.
The Winds of Change
ASHA Convention 2008 recognizes its location through the theme “Celebrating the Winds of Change.” The Convention has incorporated many changes: a separate topic area for autism spectrum disorders; the elimination of the “general interest” category in favor of more descriptive topics; and a convention locale that opened only a few months ago.
Before and after the Convention, visitors might want to take in some of Chicago’s neighborhoods, shopping, architecture, and restaurants. Overwhelmed visitors might want to start with Chicago’s free greeter service, in which volunteer guides offer an “insider’s” introduction to the downtown area. “InstaGreeter” 60-minute walking visits are available first-come, first-served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last visit departs at 3 p.m.), and include everything from Chicago history and architecture to the Chicago River and lakefront. Just check in at the InstaGreeter booth at the Chicago Cultural Center Visitor Information Center, 77 E. Randolph St.
The Greeter service also offers free pre-arranged tours of specific neighborhoods (choose from 25) or interest areas (any of 40, from Green Chicago to Gay & Lesbian Chicago to the Chicago Fire) in any of 15 languages. Register online or by phone (312-744-8000) at least 10 days before your arrival to schedule your two- to four-hour tour.
Just about any travel guide will highlight the city’s unique and intriguing aspects. Here are a few to get you started.
Rising High From the Ashes
Chicago’s wealth of monumental and decorative buildings stems from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed 18,000 buildings over almost three square miles of the downtown area. With the industrial base intact, however, local businessmen could afford to finance massive rebuilding. Drawn by the unlimited opportunities to build, the nation’s engineers and architects gravitated to the city in droves, and addressed the city’s need for immediate and generous office space by creating the first skyscrapers. Building innovations continued in Chicago well into the 20th century. The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers a daily two-hour walking tour, “Historic Skyscrapers,” which features the oldest high-rises in the Loop. For a look at more contemporary architecture, catch the “Modern Skyscrapers” tour.
Chicago is home to three of the tallest buildings in the world: the Sears Tower, with its 103rd-floor observatory (on clear days you can see four states); the John Hancock Center, recognizable from its crisscross braces and two huge antennae, also with an observatory (on the 94th floor) and a restaurant (on the 95th), both with great views of the city and Lake Michigan; and the Aon Center, which towers over Millennium Park.
Home to the World
The Windy City boasts dozens of vibrant ethnic neighborhoods, each with its own culture, history, and authentic dining. Pilsen, now home to a bustling Mexican community, began as a Slavic stronghold; you’ll find the Mexican Fine Art Center Museum, as well as Bohemian brownstone architecture that reveals the area’s earlier roots. Visitors to Chinatown may enjoy any of its more than 50 authentic restaurants and dozens of shops. Statues of Christopher Columbus and Joe DiMaggio stand watch over Little Italy; although only a quarter of its residents are Italian, the neighborhood still features some of the city’s best Italian restaurants as well as an Old World atmosphere of markets and outdoor tables.
On weekend nights, Greektown turns into one big party, as suburbanites return to their former neighborhood for feasts at their favorite restaurants. In Andersonville, the heart of Chicago’s Swedish culture, visitors will find bakeries, restaurants, and a Swedish American museum—and also a melting pot of newer Chinese, Italian, and Mediterranean eateries, as well as clubs that cater to the gay community.
Parts of Devon Avenue in Rogers Park, once home to a thriving Jewish community, now resemble an Eastern street bazaar, with Indian and Pakistani groceries, gift shops, jewelry stores, and restaurants—along with its smaller enclave of Kosher restaurants and Jewish bookstores. Uptown’s Argyle Street has experienced a pan-Asian renewal; refugees from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and China have established restaurants, bakeries, boutiques, and other shops.
World-Class Museums and Shopping
The McCormick Place Complex, home of the 2008 Convention, is just minutes away from the Museum Campus and its three well-known institutions: the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, and Shedd Aquarium. (On Mondays and Tuesdays in November, admission to the planetarium and aquarium are free!) Equally fascinating—and popular—are the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Science and Industry.
If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, try one of the cultural sights—the Ukrainian National Museum, Swedish American Museum Center, Spertus Museum (Jewish history and culture), Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago, Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center, or the DuSable Museum of African American History.
The northern half of Michigan Avenue, known as the “Magnificent Mile,” features an array of exclusive shops, department stores, and boutiques in vertical malls—a configuration that allows for a lot of shopping without having to venture outside. After the closing Convention party, venture north to view the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival; the trees along North Michigan Avenue will be illuminated with more than a million lights to signal the official start of the holiday season.
Outdoor Attractions
A visit to Chicago would not be complete without a visit to Millennium Park—even in November. The performing arts pavilion is a show-stopper, as is the Crown Fountain, which features images of faces rotating on two 50-foot-high glass block towers (no water in November, though). There’s an ice-rink for skating, and of course the gleaming seamless polished steel Cloud Gate sculpture (“the Bean”), which looks like a giant silver kidney bean, bending and distorting your reflection—and the reflection of the skyline—as you walk around and underneath.
A visit to the Lincoln Park Zoo—a beloved local institution—offers a mix of indoor habitats and naturalistic outdoor environments, including an African journey and the internationally renowned Great Ape House. Admission is free!
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July 2008
Volume 13, Issue 9