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 – FRIDAY APRIL 12, 1918
Winter just won’t leave. At 7:00am this morning the temperature was only 35° under gray cloudy skies. Cold rain, sleet and possibly more snow are predicted for this afternoon and tonight. And to make matters more unpleasant the Weather Bureau is warning that another snow storm may be heading our way. Today’s high will only reach 38° with the low tonight about 34°
Philadelphians are in mourning today from the news that Rudolph Blankenburg, the 81st Mayor of this city has died. Mr. Blankenburg was born in Hillentrup, Germany on February 16, 1843 and came to the United States in 1865. Once here he started his career in business working as a salesman but through hard work, skill and determination he became a successful textile manufacturer. In 1867 he married Lucretia Mott Longshore, a Quaker and the person who introduced him to reform politics, including women’s suffrage.
He entered the political world in 1877 and in 1905 he became city commissioner. His fight for clean government and reform earned him the nickname “The Dutch Cleanser” and “The Old War Horse of Reform”. In 1911 he ran for and was elected Mayor on the reform Keystone-Democratic ticket. The Keystone-Democratic Party was organized to fight corruption and Republican Party control of the city. He served until 1916.
Among his reform initiatives as Mayor he prohibited the “assessments” paid by police and fireman to the ward leaders in the district they were stationed. He established regular and strict budgets for city departments and instituted procedures for the awarding of city contracts. He began the construction of new piers and the repair of existing ones, paved Chestnut and South Streets with wood blocks, widened Delaware Avenue and began the design and work on the Broad Street subway system.
Mr. Blankenburg died at this home, 138 Walnut Lane in Germantown at 7:45am this morning. He had been ill for some time. Even in ill health he continued fighting for good clean government. His last public appearance was in October at the Academy of Music where he spoke at a meeting on behalf of the Town Meeting Party which was campaigning against graft and corruption in city government. It will be remembered by many who knew him that at the end of his speeches he would sometimes say “When I close these weary eyes, I want them to say, well done, thou good and faithful servant”.
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