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Unloading rolls of paper from a horse drawn cart. Nov 7th 1903.

[Detail] Unloading rolls of paper from a horse drawn cart. Nov 7th 1903.

Creative Writing: Descriptive Journalism

In a time before television, radio, and the internet, newspapers provided the main source of information about current events. A photograph from 1904 shows Chicagoans gathered in front of the Chicago Daily News building reading the latest news as it came off the press.

Pictures taken by Chicago Daily News photographers document the important events of their day and provide starting points for practicing descriptive writing. Use the following suggestions or browse the collection for photographs of major events. Examine the photographs and use imagination or research to write a descriptive account of one of these events as if you were a reporter for a newspaper.

1) Photographers documented the crowds that gathered at the funerals of Tony Lombardo, a reputed gangster, and William H. McSwiggin, an attorney said to have been killed by Al Capone. Search on gangster funeral for several images.

2) On July 24, 1915, over 800 people, including 22 entire families, died when the S.S. Eastland rolled over at the wharf in the Chicago River. Search on Eastland for over 100 photographs of the Eastland disaster and rescue efforts.

3) On Labor Day, 1915, sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, Governor Edward F. Dunne, and William Jennings Bryan were among those gathered to dedicate a monument of former Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld. Search on Governor Altgeld for several images of the monument and its dedication.

4) Daily News photographers also documented soldiers preparing to leave for training or for service in Texas and abroad. Search on soldiers preparing for a variety of images.

  • When and where did the event you are reporting on take place?
  • What went on at this event?
  • Who was present at the event and why?
  • What was the mood of the people present?
  • What is the ultimate significance of this event to the city of Chicago?