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 often for new updates.

To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com


The city will have clear and fair skies today with the high reaching 76° and the low tonight about 56°. There is the chance of fast moving thunderstorms going through the area.

Two firemen lost their lives today and 12 others were injured battling a huge fire at the Thomas Potter & Sons oil cloth works at 2nd & Erie Avenue. The deaths and injuries occurred when an explosion inside the building blew out one of the 4-story high walls raining tons of brick down on the men. Police and other firemen on the scene risked their own lives rushing into the debris to rescue the injured. It took an hour to dig the men from under the rubble.

The fire was first reported at 2:57pm and quickly went out of control. Fire companies from Kensington, Port Richmond and lower Frankford responded. Over 200 firemen were eventually fighting the blaze. Once the roof collapsed flames shot hundreds of feet into the air.

The dead are Battalion Chief William F. James and Ladderman John J. Hillman, Jr. Chief James, 57years old of 2465 Amber Street, had joined the department in 1892 and was planning to retire on September 1. He was not married. John Hillman, Jr., 30 years old of 1141 North Orianna Street, had only been on the force for 2 years and served at Engine House No. 29 at 4th & Girard, the same fire company as his father who has been on the force 30 years. John Hillman Sr. was also at the fire and witnessed the disaster that took his son’s life. John Hillman Jr. is survived by a wife and 2 young children.

The injured firemen include: Hoseman Archie Ewing of Engine Company 23; Ladderman Frank Murphy of Truck No. 7; Ladderman James Osborne of Truck No. 7; Captain George Stark of Truck No. 7; Ladderman Robert Hill of Truck No. 7 (shown below, left to right).


Also injured are Lieutenant Howard S. Barnes of Engine Company No. 7; Battalion Chief Joseph Clements of Engine Company No. 48; Russell Stackhouse, Engine Company No. 7; Hoseman Ashton Coates, Engine Company No. 7; James Grundy, volunteer fire fighter; Hoseman William McKnight, Engine Company No. 7 and Chief William S. Murphy.

In more pleasant news, Northeast and Girls’ High Schools held their graduation exercises today. At the Forrest Theatre 166 young men received their diplomas from Northeast High. While at the Academy of Music the Philadelphia High School for Girls held its diploma ceremony.