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 overcast skies over the city today with rain moving in tonight. The high will be about 39° with the low tonight around 31°.

A terrible tragedy took place this afternoon on Darby Creek in Clifton Heights. Andrew Surab was returning home from work when he decided to stop by the creek to see his son who was playing with a friend. Andrew Jr., 10 years old and John Carpenter, 8 years old, (shown below) were enjoying the afternoon skating on the frozen creek. Mr. Surab sat down in a clearing on the bank and watched the boys. The boys began skating on the thinner parts of the ice. Before Mr. Surab could call to them to stop both boys went through the ice into the water.

2-18-1916 Darby Creek Boys

Mr. Surab, who is 40 and of muscular build, dashed onto the creek. He slid across the ice toward the hole that swallowed the children. But the ice cracked under him and now he went into the cold water. His feet touched bottom and he kept his head above the water. The creek bottom mud closed around his heavy boots making it difficult to move. He grouped for the boys and somehow found an arm. It was his son. He lifted the boy above his head and flung him onto the ice above. However, the exertion of throwing his son and searching for the other boy pushed Mr. Surab further into the muddy bottom.

When Andrew Jr. regained his senses and looked around he did not see his father or his friend. He panicked and before other skaters could reach him he went back into the water to save his father. The other skaters formed a human chain along the ice. Dozens of men and boys held each other’s hands stretching toward the opening in the ice. For half an hour volunteers were lowered into the water, held by the chain of skaters, to try and find the three. But it was all for naught. Later that afternoon the police recovered all the bodies.

Gambling has been wiped out in Chinatown. In the early morning hours while darkness still covered the city plain clothes police raided every known gambling “joint” in that section of the city. Armed with axes and crowbars the police burst into every gambling house and smashed machines and paraphernalia. Many of the gamblers and the Chinese proprietors were stunned as the police made their entries. The gambling houses are run by rival Chinese gangs, the Hip Sing Tong and the On Leon Tong. A number of the Chinese business store owners that held games in their backrooms told police they were informed the “lid” was off and that large sums of money had been paid to police for protection. Notwithstanding the “protection” many Chinese are now in jail.