Philadelphia: The World War I Years provides a window to a time and a city now gone. One hundred years ago Philadelphia was a very different place. In 1914 Philadelphia was the third largest city in the United States with a population of over one and a half million people. It was a major manufacturing center nicknamed “The Workshop of the World.” Factories and mills dotted its landscape, and construction was taking place at a massive rate. Miles upon miles of two and three story row homes and schools were being built to accommodate a growing population. A modern subway system and an elevated rail line were under construction. And a grand boulevard modeled on the Champs Elysees in Paris was begun to stretch from the center of the city to Fairmount Park.
When The Great War finally engulfed a reluctant America, the city and its citizens fully mobilized in the war effort. Almost overnight, manufacturing and textile companies converted to war material production. The shipyards on the Delaware River waterfront would produce hundreds of ships including battleships, destroyers, submarine chasers, and troop transports. The Great War would forever alter the city’s landscape and its people as they joined together to support the war effort at home and their boys over there.
Philadelphia: The World War I Years provides a look at these sweeping changes which took place in the city once called by its founder, William Penn, his “greene country towne.”
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The role of women during the 2nd decade of the 20th Century was undergoing rapid change. Women were demanding the right to vote and entering the workforce. The war accelerated these changes. Women were needed to fill the jobs left by men joining the service and in the expanding manufacturing industries. Philadelphia: The World War I Years presents this changing role and shows the essential and heroic work done by the women of Philadelphia in support of the war effort.
Philadelphia was a major shipbuilding center and along the Delaware River there were twelve ship yards turning out warships, transports and merchant vessels. One was Hog Island which was built in just over six months. It was a testament to the American spirit and can do attitude which prevailed at the time. American workers dedicated themselves to win the war. And ships were one way to do it. Philadelphia: The World War I Years presents a look at these Shipyards and the essential work done there to create for America a world class fleet.