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


The forecast for today calls for overcast, cloudy skies. The high will reach an unseasonably 52° with the low near 32°. However, snow flurries are possible this evening. The weather bureau is predicting that a cold wave will reach our area within 36 hours from the west. Physicians believe the change in weather may help end the epidemic of the grip which has caused much suffering in this city.

The City Treasurer, William McCoach, released a report today showing that with the year-end receipt of taxes and other funds the city has a positive balance of $11,065,633.62. In other local news an ordinance will be introduced to city councils next week to investigate the engineering and financial feasibility of building a bridge across the Delaware River connecting Philadelphia and Camden. The bill will authorize $15,000.00 to pay for the investigation. It is hoped that such a bridge will do away with the antiquated ferry system.

The University of Pennsylvania is in mourning today. Flags on all school buildings and fraternities are being flown at half-mast in respect for William Lifson (shown below), a 17 year old freshman from Elizabeth, New Jersey who lost his life yesterday in the annual “bowl fight”. Twenty-four other students were injured in the event. Today the sophomore, junior and senior classes voted to discontinue this 50 year annual tradition. The decision was accepted and ratified by Provost Smith.

William Lifson

William Lifson

The bowl fight is a clash between freshmen and sophomores divided into 2 halves of 10 minutes each. The object of the game is for the freshmen to capture and break a bowl before the sophomores can capture the freshman “bowl man” and put him in it. The bowl is supplied by the sophomores, made of wood and measures 24 inches in diameter. Mr. Lifson was in the first group of charging freshmen at Museum Field and was trampled and crushed in the melee. Mr. Lifson’s parents arrived in Philadelphia today. They requested no autopsy be done as they were satisfied their son died from suffocation. Mr. Lifson’s father also requested that no one be punished as he was convinced his son’s death was an accident. The city coroner and chief of the homicide division have acceded to his request.

Another atrocity has occurred in Mexico. Word has reached El Paso, Texas that 9 more Americans including 1 woman have been murdered by troops loyal to Pancho Villa. An English woman was also killed. The massacre took place near Madera and was done on the orders of General Jose Rodriguez. Rodriguez had proclaimed that he would kill every American who fell into his hands.

In sports, Kensington’s Jasper Jewels will meet Reading’s Bears tonight at Nonpareil Hall, Kensington & Ontario Streets, in Eastern League Basketball action. In last night’s game Camden beat South Philadelphia’s DeNeri team. The Greystock Greys lead the league followed by Reading, Camden, DeNeri, Trenton and Jasper.