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, MARCH 1, 1917
There will be cloudy and overcast skies over the city today with periods of light snow. The high will reach 34° with the low near 30°. An eerie darkness enveloped the city at midday. Starting around noon a heavy mist floated in and covered most sections of the city. Within a few minutes it became as dark as night. The situation remained until shortly after 2:00pm when the mist and fog lifted and daylight returned. During the darkness all the street lights in the central business district were turned on as was the lighting in every office building. The beacon in City Hall tower was also illuminated. That light created a strange, otherworldly like reflection off the intermittent snowfall.
The Weather Bureau explained the phenomenon in scientific terms. It seems that lower air currents cooled by the snow formed a vapor with upper warm air currents. The resultant dark vapor moved slowly because of the lack of strong winds. The less scientific and more superstitious observers saw the occurrence as a prediction of dire events to come.
And such dire events may be upon us. In Washington D.C. today the halls of congress are filled with outrage, anger and some disbelief over the release of a German cable (shown below) to the Mexican government proposing an alliance for the purpose of making war against America. As of today the White House has refused to divulge how it became aware of the message or how it received a copy. But President Wilson has assured the Congress that the cable is authentic.
In summary, the telegram is from the German Foreign Minister, Arthur Zimmermann to the German Minister in Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt. In it von Eckardt is directed to approach the Mexican government with a proposed alliance in which Mexico will make war on the United States with Germany’s support. The note also directs Mexico to invite Japan into this alliance. For its part Germany offers to provide generous financial support to Mexico and assist Mexico in reconquering its lost territories of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
Republicans and Democrats today set aside their differences and stood with the President in the face of the duplicitous actions of Germany. Today the House of Representatives passed a bill almost totally fulfilling the President’s request when he spoke to a Joint Session of Congress on Monday. The Senate is also expected to pass a similar bill this evening.
GET YOUR COPY OF PHILADELPHIA: THE WORLD WAR I YEARS BY CLICKING ON THE LINK BELOW.