My Kind of Town We can thank Mrs. O’Leary’s cow for giving us the 2003 ASHA Convention. So that’s a stretch, maybe, but it may well be true that, without Kate O’Leary’s clumsy bovine, the modern Windy City, City of the Big Shoulders, Gem of the Prairie, Hog Butcher to the World, that toddlin’ ... ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage  |   May 01, 2003
My Kind of Town
Author Notes
  • Ellen Uffen, is managing editor for features of The ASHA Leader. Contact her by e-mail at
    Ellen Uffen, is managing editor for features of The ASHA Leader. Contact her by e-mail at×
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Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage   |   May 01, 2003
My Kind of Town
The ASHA Leader, May 2003, Vol. 8, 1-9. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.08092003.1
The ASHA Leader, May 2003, Vol. 8, 1-9. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.08092003.1
We can thank Mrs. O’Leary’s cow for giving us the 2003 ASHA Convention.
So that’s a stretch, maybe, but it may well be true that, without Kate O’Leary’s clumsy bovine, the modern Windy City, City of the Big Shoulders, Gem of the Prairie, Hog Butcher to the World, that toddlin’ town, and my kind of town—Chicago—wouldn’t exist.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, 1871, at about 9 p.m., that famous cow, you’ll recall—or so the story goes—kicked the milk bucket that knocked over the lantern that started the fire that led to the city’s rebirth that, 132 years later, would allow it to play host to ASHA’s 2003 Convention Nov. 13–15, with its theme this year of “Exploring New Frontiers in Biology.”
Mrs. O’Leary’s cow may be getting a bad historical rap, but it’s still a pretty good story. We do know for sure that the Great Chicago Fire really did happen, although, if the truth be told, nobody is certain how it began. We know that the blaze razed the city—which had existed since Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a fur trader from Santo Domingo, founded the first settlement there in 1781—destroying $200 million worth of property, killing 300 people, and leaving 90,000 homeless.
The New Chicago
The resilient Chicagoans immediately started to rebuild, and by 1893 the city was able to host the World Columbian Exposition—the Chicago World’s Fair—commemorating Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America 400 years earlier. The exposition drew 26 million people to Chicago and ran for six months. Visitors to the historic event rode the first elevated trains in the city, which were introduced by the Chicago Transit Authority in order to provide the necessary transportation to the throngs of guests. George Ferris built his giant wheel for the fair that stood 250 feet high, and Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of New York’s Central Park, also lent his mighty talents to the project.
From that period, there was no stopping the growth of the city. Phoenix-like, Chicago revived and renewed itself, its carefully controlled expansion based initially on “The Plan for Chicago,” the elaborate design drawn in 1909 by Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846–1912), who also supervised the earlier construction of the World Columbian Exposition. Burnham’s vision for the new Chicago —the first such comprehensive plan ever drawn up for an American city—included many of the beautiful elements we recognize today. The open aspect of the lakefront, the forested areas, and the parks are all owing to Burnham’s foresight. His pioneering work established what is considered by many to be the prototype of the modern metropolis.
Today, Chicago is a feast for architectural buffs; urban historians recognize the city as the center of American architecture of the 20th century. In addition to Burnham, many other renowned urban designers had a hand in the development of the Chicago we’ll see during the ASHA Convention. The art of Louis Henry Sullivan (1856–1924) is evident in the city’s skyline, as are works of Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), William Boyington (1818 –1898), George Maher (1864–1926), and others. In the Chicago area, there are more than 100 buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959), creator of the celebrated “Prairie School” of architectural design that sought to retain the structural rhythms and patterns of the Midwest. You’ll recognize the flavor of Wright’s designs in ASHA’s 2003 Convention logo.
An architectural tour alone would warrant a special visit to Chicago—sometimes called, for its landmark architecture, “The Paris of the Midwest.” There are many must-see buildings, from the oldest structure in the city—the Widow Clarke house— to the Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station—another pre-fire structure, built in 1869—to Mies van der Rohe’s famous “glass house” apartment buildings, constructed between 1948 and 1951, which forever changed the look of the American city—to the Chicago Board of Trade Building, built by the firm of Holabird and Root, in the Art Deco style in 1929.
Visit Jane Addams’ famous Hull House, opened in 1889 in the mansion built in 1856 by real estate developer Charles Hull. Addams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 for her significant work in social reform, opened Hull House as a settlement to aid and educate immigrants in an effort to facilitate their entry into American society. By 1907, Hull House had grown into a complex of 13 buildings. Today the original mansion and the dining room remain on what is now the Chicago Circle Campus of the University of Illinois.
Of course, don’t miss the Sears Tower, which at 1,450 feet and 110 stories, is the tallest building on the North American continent—the observation platform is on the 103rd floor. Chicago also has the John Hancock Center, the world’s third tallest building. And make sure to visit Louis Sullivan and his partner Dankmar Adler’s beautiful Auditorium Theatre, which was built in 1889. The theatre fell into disuse after World War II, but was restored to its original beauty and reopened in 1967. It ’s now home to ballet, music, and theatrical performances. And there’s the University of Chicago’s handsome Gothic-style buildings, modeled after England’s Cambridge University, and Wrigley Field, home of baseball’s Chicago Cubs—to name just a few of the city’ s fabulous structures. Just take a walk. You’ll see.
The real vibrancy of a city, however, does not reside in its buildings, magnificent as they might be, but in its people and in the settings where those people live and work—in the city’s neighborhoods. And in Chicago there are 77 neighborhoods, each with its distinctive history and individual ambiance.
Why 77? These were the areas described by faculty members at the University of Chicago in the 1920s, who felt that each locale possessed a remarkable past and unique sense of community. But—with all due respect to the venerable professors—great cities don’t remain static. New waves of immigration, socio-economic mobility, and just the natural flux of things influence neighborhoods. The 77 are not the same as they once were, but they are no less vivid today.
So put on a good pair of comfortable shoes and experience the cultural riches of Chinatown or Greektown or the Scandinavian community of Andersenville or the area known as Uptown, one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods. Visit the museums and cultural centers of Bronzeville and find out about the role this neighborhood played in the African American life of the area. Pay a visit to the beautiful cathedrals of the Ukrainian Village and the Victorian mansions—and even an Irish castle—of Beverly Hills. Go window-shopping and gallery hopping along the Magnificent Mile—that section of Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River that is home to some of the city’s most upscale hotels, restaurants, and stores.
If you can make time, explore the zoo in Lincoln Park, one of Chicago’s oldest neighborhoods, dating from the 1850s, and named for the park that also houses beaches and a botanical garden. The Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field is also in the neighborhood. And take a walk along colorful Devon (accent on the second syllable) Avenue, itself a mini-version of Chicago’s diversity. This stretch of Chicago used to be the center of the city’s orthodox Jewish community. Devon is still home to great Jewish bakeries and delis and assorted Judaica. But it’s also a newer home to the lively Indian and Pakistani communities. Here’s where to be tempted by colorful saris and to hunt down the restaurant—there’ll be more than one—from whence those wonderfully spicy aromas are emanating.
You’ll find fine food, of course, all over this city known for its outstanding restaurants—check the list on page 8 for some luscious dinner possibilities—and Chicago’s education and arts community can compete with that of any great city. In the Near South Side area of the city—close to the neo-Grecian architecture of Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play, and McCormick Place, ASHA’s Convention home and, at 2.2 million square feet, the world’s largest convention venue—you’ll find the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum. The Art Institute of Chicago in the Loop—Chicago’s central business district—is one of the world’s renowned museums, with its vast collections of American and European art and artifacts.
Close by is the home of the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera. You also might want to spend some time at the Museum of Science and Industry on Lake Shore Drive, which was originally constructed as the Palace of Fine Arts for the World Columbian Exposition in 1893. It’s the only exposition structure that is still standing—this is in the Hyde Park/Kenwood neighborhood, home also of the University of Chicago and the DuSable Museum of African American History. Visit too the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Spertus Museum of Judaica, or the Terra Museum of American Art —to name just a few offerings.
Maybe you’ve been to Chicago before, maybe even attended an earlier ASHA Convention there. You’ve already done the city, so why return? Think again and listen to the words of Mark Twain in his 1883 Life on the Mississippi: “It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago—she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.” Every great city recreates itself for your next visit. A new urban landscape awaits you.
And so does a new, improved ASHA Convention. This year the Convention will be held Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 13–15, with open houses scheduled for Saturday night. Sunday is now all yours. The Convention is also two weeks before Thanksgiving, instead of one week before, as it’s been in the past. Now you can enjoy the activities ASHA has in store for you and still get home with plenty of time to spend with family and prepare more comfortably for the holiday.
There’s a formal theme for the 2003 Convention as well as an informal one. Because of the increasing significance of biology in the field of communication disorders, this year the Convention has taken as its theme “Exploring New Frontiers in Biology.” And because ASHA has designated 2003 as the Year of the Volunteer, you’ll find sessions related to this subject as well. As always, you’ll also be able to choose from a panoply of presentations on clinical and research topics across the field of communication sciences and disorders. Audiologists and hearing scientists also can look forward this year again to special programming at the Audiology Convention component of the ASHA Convention.
Even though the exceptional sessions of the Convention will engage most of your attention during those few days from Nov. 13–15, plan to leave some time for relaxing with friends, for networking, and for exploring our great host city—“Perhaps … the last of the great American cities” Norman Mailer called it in Miami and the Siege of Chicago. So prepare to bundle up, take a walk, have a great meal or two or three, and enjoy the experience of Chicago—but, in the meantime, don’t forget to keep your eye on The ASHA Leader and the ASHA Web site for frequent Convention updates.
And one other thing: Make sure to go to the movies between now and November—we at the ASHA National Office consider the goings-on at the Academy Awards ceremony this year as just free publicity for the Convention!
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May 2003
Volume 8, Issue 9