Having recently returned from the ASM (American Society for Microbiology) General Meeting held in Philadelphia, I'm convinced that it should be held there every year--or, at least, it should be the permanent East Coast venue.
When I go to a meeting, I want several things:
- Stuff to do. Restaurants, museums, and so on.
- Things need to be accessible. That means I have to be able to walk to them or take public transit (I don't want to have to rent a car just to leave the conference center).
- Lodging needs to be close to the convention center (ASM is usually an 8,000-12,000 person meeting; it needs a convention center). By close, I mean no more than five to ten minutes from the center. It's good to be able to return to your room for a minutes after lunch, or to practice a talk. If you have to spend 40-50 minutes roundtrip, that pretty much kills that possibility (or you end up missing parts of the meeting).
- Decent weather. There isn't much that can be done about rain, but temperatures usually fall within a certain predictable range. Hotter than hell is not the good part of the range.
By all accounts, Philly did well. Most of the hotels were nearby (mine, the Loews Philadelphia was right across the street. And very cool in an art deco kind of way). The convention center is a block away from the center of the city. To veer off topic, City Hall, which is basically the center of the city looks amazing at night--we don't build them like that anymore. It's one of the architectural wonders of the U.S.
Not only was the meeting centrally located, but the city is small enough (and flat) so you can walk anywhere: Walnut Street, Rittenhouse Square, Broad Street, South Street, Old City. And, of course, the Liberty Bell (the bell has a big crack in it. I think it's broken). While the transit system is byzantine (tokens, transfers, and so on--and I live in Boston), the PHLASH pretty much gets a tourist anywhere you want to go, and it's affordable.
Lots of great restaurants (Jamaican Jerk Hut--very yummy, and fun). Compared to some of the recent sites, Philly was great:
Atlanta: Hotter than hell. From the convention center, it's not walkable (and hotter than hell). I did, however, get a room in the hotel associated with the convention center, so I didn't have to melt too often.
Toronto: Weather was good (if a little cool). But most of the hotels, including mine, were too far from the convention center. On the other hand, there's lots to do in Toronto, and it has great mass transit.
Boston: You might expect me to be a homer, but, for a meeting the size of ASM, Boston simply can't handle it. The Boston Convention Center is not well located--it's a ten minute walk to South Station. From there, some parts of the city are accessible, but it's not centrally located. The convention center is well-suited for cars, but not for people who fly in. Also, there simply aren't enough hotel rooms--I heard some real horror stories about forty minute bus rides each way. If ASM were a smaller meeting, Hynes would be a great place (and should Bostonians an indication of just how large this meeting is).
So, if we're to have the meeting on the East Coast, why not make Philadephia the site? It worked for me.
The Loews is a nice hotel. I couldn't agree more about how City Hall looks at night (the Ben Franklin bridge is also pretty at night). I always have to roll my eyes whenever visitors want to the Liberty Bell (blech!). That's why I always recommend (1) a City Hall tour, (2) an Eastern State Penitentiary tour, and (3) the MÃ¼tter Museum.
I honestly thought that I was going to perish during the Atlanta ASM meeting. We were within walking distance, except that was based on the faulty assumption that we hadn't been teleported to venus.
The first day I got about 2 blocks away from the hotel and had to turn around and go back and take another shower, change my clothes, and wait for the bus :P
I thought DC was ok, but because of cheap ass grad school professors we were staying about an hour away from the convention center to save a few dollars per night.
Sadly, I didn't get to go this year, was only allowed to attend one meeting so I chose a small, regional conference (mid atlantic microbial pathogenesis) which would be a lot more personal than the ginormous ASM general meeting.
D.C. seems to be able to easily fit your criteria with many hotels and things to do in walking distance and many cheap hotels less than a 15min train ride away.
It can get hot in the Summer, but this time of year is usually ok.
I completely agree- Phili was awesome for ASM. As much as I love Boston, I despise that new convention center which is just gargantuan and in the middle of no where.
I stayed in the Hilton and it was directly across the street from the convention center as well- so lots of hotels within walking distance to the hotel and little taking the bus.
Let's see how it goes for San Diego next year. Although I'm not familiar with the convention center there- I do love the city!
If ASM hosts in Philly anytime in the near future they need to provide a shuttle for everyone attending the Workshops FOR BOTH DAYS, coming AND going. Heck, if this is not the rule of thumb for any city ASM is in, it should be. Saying "We will reimburse you for public transportation and/or cab fare." doesn't quite cut it.
It was asinine to force people, most of whom were visitors to the United States (let alone to Philly) to navigate to Temple University (found in not exactly the best part of the city). It's a miracle that no one was mugged as they wandered aimlessly on Broad Street because even their cabbies didn't know where to drop them off.
thanks for article very