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


There will be clear skies over the city today but clouds will move in this evening and probably bring rain overnight and tomorrow. Today’s high will reach close to 60° with the low near 37°. It is graduation day for the 72 young men of the Williamson Trade School, class of 1916 (shown below). The school, located in Middletown Township in Delaware County, was founded by Isaiah Vansant Williamson in 1891 with the mission of providing young men with an education in a useful, honest trade so they can succeed in life and become respected members of society.

Williamson Trade School

Williamson Trade School

With Easter fast approaching, Philadelphia’s first Passion Play will be given at the Metropolitan Opera House during the week of April 10th. The play will be presented by the St. Joseph’s College Dramatic Association. The production promises to be a spectacular dramatization of the life of Christ. More than 200 performers, a 40 piece orchestra and a choir of 70 will take part. In contrast to the Oberammergau production, in this play Christ is never seen. The story is told through the men and women that interacted with Him.

In national news, there is an update on the terrible train crash that occurred near Amherst, Ohio on Wednesday. The final death toll is now 29. The crash has now been ruled an accident, the result of malfunctioning signal equipment compounded by a dense fog overlaying the area. Initial reports that the crash was caused by a sleeping tower operator have been dismissed.

The French ship Rochambeau will leave New York today carrying 42,000 pounds of tobacco, 2,500,000 cigarettes and 422 gross of corncob pipes all on its way to the men in the trenches. The cargo is a gift from Americans through the work of Mrs. Clara Washington Lopp, known to French soldiers as “Lady Nicotine”. Mrs. Lopp is an American who has lived in Paris for years. She came back to America in December to solicit donations for the Allied troops. She has also collected 22 tons of canned goods for the American Ambulance Hospital in France.


The Russian hospital Ship Portugal was sunk by a German submarine in the Black Sea yesterday. At least 115 lives were lost including 50 Russian and 29 French medical corps workers and 14 members of the Sisters of Charity. The Russian Red Cross delegate, Count Tatistcheff and the Baroness Meyendorff are also reported missing. The submarine appeared within 60 yards of the ship and fired 2 torpedoes without warning. The Portugal was clearly marked with a Red Cross. The ship went down in about 1 minute. Reports are that only 158 of the persons on board were rescued.