The AAOS 2024 Annual Meeting will take place in San Francisco, home of the Golden Gate Bridge. Opened in 1937, the bridge is considered one of the seven wonders of the engineering world.
Courtesy of Stuart Fischer, MD, FAAOS


Published 6/19/2023
Stuart Fischer, MD, FAAOS

‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’: AAOS 2024 Annual Meeting Returns to the City by the Bay

AAOS returns to San Francisco for the 2024 Annual Meeting. Long popular with AAOS members, the City by the Bay offers more to see and do than any other meeting venue. This will be the first AAOS Annual Meeting in San Francisco since 2012, and it promises to be an exciting educational event and family destination. Prime hotels will sell out, so reserve a room today

The site of the meeting, the Moscone Center, has expanded since 2012 to encompass an area of 1.4 million feet, with a new pedestrian bridge connecting Moscone North with Moscone South, offering much more space for visitors and exhibits.

Many are familiar with Tony Bennett’s signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” He first performed it at the Venetian Room of the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in 1961. He then recorded it as the B side of a 45 RPM record but continued to perform at the Venetian Room well through the 1980s. It became one of the official anthems of San Francisco in 1984, and it’s still played during Giants games at Oracle Park. In recognition, the Fairmont recently placed a statue of Tony Bennett in its front garden.

“High on a hill, it calls to me”
San Francisco is famous for being a city built on hills. There are 48 named hills in the city, but the original seven are the best known and offer the best views of the city and the bay: Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill, Rincon Hill, Mount Suttor, Twin Peaks, and Mount Davidson.

The city began as a small outlet on the bay called Yerba Buena, or “good herb.” Mission San Francisco de Asis, or Mission Delores, as it was known, was built by Franciscan Padres in 1776. The current mission building, finished in 1791, is the oldest standing building in the city, located in an area known as the Mission District.

In 1846, Commander John B. Montgomery was the first to raise an American flag over the city, and on Jan. 30, 1847, the “alcalde,” or mayor, Lt. Washington Bartlett, changed the name from Yerba Buena to San Francisco.

“To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars”
Not far from the meeting, attendees can ride one of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars. There are three cable car lines: Powell–Hyde, Powell–Mason, and California Street. They run on four different cables, each an inch and a quarter wide. There are 28 different single-ended cars on the Powell lines and 12 double-ended cars on California Street. All cars run at a speed of 9.5 mph. Cable cars were first developed by Andrew Smith Hallidie and were put in operation in 1873. The cable car operators, or brakemen, are known for ringing the two bells in each car and have a yearly bell-ringing competition. The cable cars are the only national historic landmark in motion, and it is worth a trip to the Cable Car Museum on Mason Street.

A ride on the Powell–Hyde line stops at the top of Lombard Street on Russian Hill, dubbed “the crookedest street in the world.” Lombard Street has eight switchbacks over a steep 27 percent grade. The street is paved and red brick, and driving speed is limited to 5 mph. From the top, you have a beautiful view of San Francisco, including the bay, Alcatraz, Yerba Buena Island, and Telegraph Hill with Coit Tower.

Alcatraz, or “the rock,” is the island in the bay where the first Pacific lighthouse was built in 1854. Later, it became a notorious federal penitentiary, which housed the likes of Machine Gun Kelly and Al Capone. The island was first named “La Island de los Alcatraces,” or “the island of strange birds,” by Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala after the brown pelicans he saw there.

Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill was built at the bequest of Lillie Hitchcock Coit, known for her affinity for San Francisco’s firefighters. The story goes that it resembles the nozzle of a fire hose, but it wasn’t designed until after her death and the resemblance is coincidental.

“The morning fog may chill the air—I don’t care”
Everyone is familiar with the images of fog rolling over the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay with the city in the background. The fog, which is most visible from April through October, results from the interface between the cold Pacific water and warmer air blowing over the bay from inland.

The Golden Gate Bridge, which opened in 1937, runs 1.7 miles from the city to the Marin Headlands and has been considered one of the seven wonders of the engineering world. It is known for its “international orange” color, which stands out from the surroundings and makes it easier to see in the fog. The bridge also offers a foot and bike path.

Fog is not the only natural phenomenon in the Bay Area. Because San Francisco sits over the San Andreas Fault, it is susceptible to earthquakes. Historically, the two most notable were the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake (7.9 on the Richter scale) and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (6.9 on the Richter scale)—also known as the “World Series earthquake” because it occurred during the 1989 World Series between the two local Bay Area teams, the Giants and the Athletics.

The 1906 quake was particularly destructive, causing fire and more than 3,000 deaths. But the quake led to a new start for Bank of Italy founder Amadeo Giannini. Immediately after the quake, but before the start of the fire, he moved his bank’s deposits, under cover of a garbage truck, to his home and set up a temporary bank in the street so that the bank could stay open. Over time, his businesses grew, eventually becoming Bank of America and Transamerica Corporation.

Levi Strauss was another California entrepreneur who got his start in San Francisco. In 1872, he was approached by a Nevada tailor who made work pants for miners and wanted to use metal rivets for the pockets. Together, they patented the process for (Levi’s) jeans made of denim and rivets.

Domingo Ghirardelli emigrated to the United States and had his first store selling chocolate to miners in Stockton, Calif. He relocated to San Francisco and opened his chocolate company in 1852, where he pioneered a new process to make chocolate richer. The site of the old factory at Ghirardelli Square is still available to visitors.

Besides chocolate, other delicacies that come from San Francisco include sourdough bread made at Boudin’s bakeries and cioppino, a tomato-based seafood stew that was originally served at Fisherman’s Wharf more than 100 years ago. For more refreshment, have an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Café, just beyond Fisherman’s Wharf. The Buena Vista is known for bringing the drink from Ireland and popularizing its own version in the United States in 1952.

“My love waits there in San Francisco, above the blue and windy sea”
Take a walk by the sea along the Embarcadero, the long boulevard that stretches out from the Bay Bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf. Along the way is the San Francisco Ferry Building. Built in 1898, the Ferry Building is known for its 245-foot-tall clock tower with 22-foot-high clock faces on each side. Before the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge were built, it was the second busiest commuter terminal in the world. Today, the Ferry Building is filled with shops and restaurants, but it is still an active ferry terminal.

San Francisco is dotted with colorful Victorian homes, none more recognized than the “painted ladies” in Alamo Square. These six unique houses were built in the 1890s by Matthew Kavanaugh and painted in bright colors to show their detail. They have served as the backdrop for many postcards, movies, and the television series Full House.

There are also many brightly colored Victorians in Haight-Ashbury, the home of the counterculture movement and hippies of the 1960s. Some of its famous musical residents included Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jefferson Airplane.

It is great to be back in San Francisco after all these years. Enjoy the meeting, but take time out to sample the unique pleasures of the City by the Bay.

“When I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine on me.”

Stuart J. Fischer, MD, FAAOS, is an orthopaedic surgeon in private practice in Summit, N.J. He also serves on the AAOS Membership Council, Board of Councilors, and Committee on Evidence-based Quality and Value.

Secure a hotel for AAOS 2024

Hotels are now booking for the AAOS 2024 Annual Meeting, Feb. 12-16 (Monday through Friday) in San Francisco. Make a reservation through the Academy's official housing partner onPeak at discounted, flexible rates. Prime locations will sell out, so reserve a room today.