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The New York Evening World owed its existence to the competition between Joseph Pulitzer and Charles A. Dana, publisher of the New York Sun. The two men were bitter rivals. Pulitzer purchased the New York World in 1883, pledging to dedicate his newspaper to the 'cause of the people.' This morning daily featured exposés of the sordid conditions of New York's tenement houses and championed the cause of European immigrants to this country. Four years later, the New York World was the most profitable newspaper in the city. In March 1887, Dana intensified the competition by introducing the Evening Sun. By October, Pulitzer had responded, coming out with the one-cent Evening World; however, he was never happy with this upstart publication, known derisively within the World offices as "Junior."

Despite the lack of attention from Pulitzer, the New York Evening World prospered. By the mid-1890s it had a circulation of 340,000 and had attracted the attention of William Randolph Hearst, who soon supplanted Charles Dana as Pulitzer's major competitor. In 1895, Hearst acquired the New York Journal, a morning daily, and a year later began a late edition called the Evening Journal. Within a year, Evening Journal's sensationalism had attracted a large following, bringing the paper's circulation almost even with Pulitzer's nighttime edition. Such intense competition for readers led the two publishers to embrace "yellow journalism," and they competed over which evening paper would be the most strident, shrill, and loose with the facts.

In 1898 Pulitzer hired Charles E. Chapin to run the Evening World. As editor, Chapin embraced the sensational, showing little empathy for the victims of the mayhem featured in his paper. Only once, after the September 1901 assassination of President William McKinley, did the World take a solemn tone, and this was near the beginning of Chapin's tenure. From then on, the editor took a no-holds-barred approach to the news. He reveled, for example, in accounts of the 1904 General Slocum steamboat fire on the East River, which cost 1,000 lives, and, six years later, rejoiced at getting an exclusive photograph of the assassination attempt on Mayor William Jay Gaynor. He had little tolerance for timid editors or writers, firing those who ran afoul of his iron rule, and the paper's staff loathed him. In 1918, however, fate caught up with Chapin, when, facing financial insolvency and mental instability, he murdered his wife. Unable, or perhaps unwilling, to commit suicide, he instead became the ironic figure of disdain in his own newspaper's headlines. The acerbic editor ended his days incarcerated at Sing Sing, editing the prison newspaper and planting roses; he died in 1930.

Meanwhile, Pulitzer had died in 1911, and his sons assumed ownership of his newspapers. By 1930s, however, readership of Pulitzer's morning and evening editions had shrunk considerably. When the Scripps-Howard syndicate purchased the World properties in 1931, its managers stopped the presses and dismissed the staff. There was only one small consolation: Scripps-Howard added the World name to its afternoon paper, the Evening Telegram, renaming that publication the New York World-Telegram.

Provided by: The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundation