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 SEPTEMBER 20, 1918
The Weather Bureau is predicting showers this afternoon and evening. Today’s high will be 71° with a low tonight of 48°. One year ago today the first spadeful of earth was turned on Hog Island. Now 846 acres of barren waste and swampy lowland has become the greatest shipyard on earth. American determination and ingenuity has created a marvel of engineering which is the envy of our allies and the terror of our foes. Thirty thousand men toil day and night at this city within a city to build the ships which will win the war.
The germ causing the Spanish Influenza has been identified as the Pfeiffer bacillus. This discovery was made by Dr. Paul Lewis, Director of Laboratories at the Phipps Institute, 7th & Lombard Streets. The germ is similar to that which caused the old form of the grip. The identification gives the medical community absolute knowledge in its fight against the disease. Dr. Lewis is the first to identify the bacillus.
The Naval Hospital is transferring 250 sick sailors to the Municipal Hospital today. These men are not suffering from the flu. Most have measles or other slight ailments. The transfer will allow the Naval Hospital to make room for and concentrate on treating sailors and marines with the flu. As of today 10 deaths have been reported at the Navy Yard and the Wissahickon Barracks at Cape May. Nine hundred and fifty seven sailors are now sick with the disease. Medical authorities at the Navy Yard believe they have the epidemic well in hand and will be able to stamp it out within the next two weeks.
A meeting is scheduled tomorrow among the city’s medical leaders to decide on whether to make Spanish Influenza a reportable disease. The fact that it is not a reportable disease has made it difficult to ascertain how many cases there actually are in the civilian population. Local health officials are also concerned that the congested conditions in certain Philadelphia neighborhoods, like those along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, may facilitate the spread of the disease. These neighborhoods have become increasingly crowded with the influx of war workers at the shipyards and factories.
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