On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 1917
It will be a cloudy overcast day with the probability of showers tonight. The high will be 71° and the low near 51°. Today Chestnut Street received new traffic signs for every cross street (shown below). The semaphores will be operated by policemen and will apply to motor vehicles and pedestrians alike.
An old tradition is ending at Broad Street Station. The Pennsylvania Railroad will begin hiring “girls” to be clerks. Until now only male clerks were employed but with men going into the military or taking higher paying jobs in industry there is a “famine of clerks” according to railroad officials and women were needed. When asked, a company spokesman admitted that the women will not be paid the same as men. The spokesman said the ladies will need to prove themselves over time before receiving equal pay.
In entertainment tonight, the Philadelphia Police Band will be in concert at the Metropolitan Opera House. The band will be performing works by John Philip Sousa, Victor Herbert and others. Also featured will be a new composition written by the band’s leader, Mr. Joseph Kiefer, entitled “Hail Philadelphia, The Cradle of Liberty”.
In Washington, debate in the House of Representatives continues over the President’s demand for the raising of a 500,000 man army through selective conscription. The House’s Military Affairs Committee voted the provision down. Many in the House prefer that the army be raised by calling for volunteers.
A different debate is taking place in the Senate over the Espionage Act proposed by the President. Republicans, led by Senator Borah oppose the censorship provisions in the bill. They argue that the bill gives the President unconstitutional power over the press. Senator Borah stated on the floor that those who wrote the Constitution clearly intended that the government should have no power over the press. Some democrats and progressives are siding with the Republicans on this issue.
On the western front, ferocious fighting continues in the Champagne Region of France and on both sides of the Aisne River. French General Nivelle is reporting success in the combined attack with the British against the “Hindenburg Line”. The French have seen success around Rheims, Soissons, Laon and on the Vauclerc plateau. The Germans are counter-attacking under the command of Crown Prince Wilhelm but have suffered terrible losses. It is estimate that the Germans have lost 150,000 men in the last 3 days.
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