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


Although today will not be quite as cold as yesterday it is the coldest February 15th since 1875. Today’s high will reach 25° while the low tonight will be -1°. The skies above will remain bright and clear. The 3,500 men organized yesterday for clearing the snow and ice from the streets continue with their work today. For children the snow transformed Rittenhouse Square into a winter playground with sledding the most popular activity (shown below).

2-15-1916 Rittenhouse Sq. Sledding

Birthday wishes are sent to Dr. Russell H. Conwell, minister, orator, philanthropist, lawyer, writer and founder of Temple University on this his 74th birthday.  Celebrations and special exercises are planned today at Broad & Berks Streets to show the Temple community’s affection and gratitude for Dr. Conwell for all the work he has done. This evening a banquet is planned in the “Lower Temple” with a concert by the Temple University Glee Club. Tomorrow “Founders Day” exercises will be held at the Academy of Music and include the presentation of a portrait in oil of Dr. Conwell.

A spectacular fire raged this morning at the Harrison Brothers & Co. chemical plant at 35th & Gray’s Ferry Road. The blaze was fought by nearly every fire company in south and west Philadelphia. Fifty workmen escaped the nitric acid building where the fire began as it spread, one by one, to the 17 large vats filled with chemicals exploding and sending black smoke high in the air. At one point 85 adjacent buildings owned by the company were threatened by the spreading flames but firemen brought the blaze under control with the loss of just the initial building.

In sports, Phillies vice-president Chandler stated today that the reported sale of the team yesterday was totally false. Mr. Chandler said that neither Charles Taft nor Charles Webb Murphy have any stock in the Phillies and therefore are not able to sell any interest in the team. In other Phillies news, Manager Pat Moran has signed pitcher “Chief” Bender to his staff. The big Indian was last seen here as one of the preeminent twirlers of Connie Mack’s A’s. Bender pitched for the A’s from 1903 to 1914. Last year he signed on with the Baltimore Terrapins in the Federal League. The chief has said he greatly missed Philadelphia and wanted to return.


On the western front, German artillery continued a steady bombardment on the hills of Champagne in what is thought a prelude to a major offensive. The bombing was so heavy that French troops remained under cover the entire day. In northern Italy yesterday, Austrian aeroplanes bombed Milan, Monza, Schio, Bergamo and Treviglio. Numerous deaths are reported and some ancient structures and churches were badly damaged. In eastern Turkey, Russian troops are attacking Erzerum on 3 sides and reportedly the city is in flames. Most of the civilian population has fled.