The Digital Research Library of Illinois History® organization identifies the correct subject and date of this 110 year old photograph. The subject was unknown and thus, mislabeled on the Internet. This is one of a handful of historic photos that we were able to correct the information on Illinois photographs.
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The image was most likely captured from the photographer standing on the roof of a streetcar.
RESEARCH: The handwritten date on the photographs face, which was misread as 1909, is actually 1908. I inverted the photograph in Photoshop and used other filters to further deduce the last digit was an 8, not the number 9.
Moreover, there is nothing else that would bring such a crowd (flash mob) out in the streets of downtown Chicago, resulting in bringing traffic to a standstill. News travels fast via telegraph, telephone (by 1905, the total telephones in Chicago proper had increased to 100,000) and word of mouth.
by Neil Gale, Ph.D.