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. We will also recount the events occurring in the war on that day. So, check back each day for new editions.
To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1916
The bitter cold weather seems to have passed, at least for now. The skies will continue to be clear and fair. The high today will reach 36° with tonight’s low near 18°.
Last Thursday we reported the claim of the ladies of Wellesley College in Massachusetts to have come near to physical perfection and even rival the Venus de Milo. Well the girls of Swarthmore College have challenged that claim and assert that real feminine perfection resides right here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Like Wellesley the Swarthmore ladies were measured and composite figures calculated. In comparison Swarthmore more closely matches the famous Venus in every category. Venus’ measurements are chest 34.2”, waist 25.9”, ankle 8.2”, height 5’4” and weight 132.2 lbs. While the Swarthmore girls’ were chest 32.1”, waist 26.9”, ankle 8.6”, height 5’5” and weight 124.5 lbs. And one co-ed, Miss Margaret Willetts (shown below), is almost an exact twin in both physical measurement and facial structure to Venus! Proving scientifically that the most beautiful girls in the world live in Philadelphia, or close to it.
In business news, prosperity brought about by war contracts has caused the Baldwin Locomotive Works to contract for a new factory to be built at 18th & Hamilton Streets adjoining the present plant. The new structure will be 8 stories high and made of steel and concrete. Additionally, the company has leased a 5 story building at 3233-3249 Woodland Avenue. Also in business news, the Eddystone Munitions Company will hire 1000 girls to work in its factory to pierce fuses for artillery shells. The machines that performs this work resemble sewing machines. The women will work on the 2nd floor of the factory and be provided a separate entrance and recreation room so they will not have to come into contact with the men.
In national news an enormous fire swept pier No. 36 on the South Brooklyn waterfront overnight destroying two British steamships and badly damaging a British munitions ship. A number of barges that were transporting cargo to the vessels were also set ablaze. In total over 5 million dollars’ worth of war supplies including shells, oil and cotton was destroyed. So far two are known dead but that number is expected to rise. It is believed the fire was the result of a bomb which then ignited the oil and cotton.
It has been announced in London that the British government will organize women to work on the land. Up to 400,000 women will be mobilized to undertake farm work to replace men lost to the fighting. The women will be outfitted with uniforms consisting of a coat, skirt, stout boots and gaiters. In the Middle East, the great Turkish fortress of Erzerum in Armenia has fallen to the Russians. Supposedly the Turkish garrison of the city and its surrounding forts equaled 160,000 men.
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