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. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com



There will be some rain this afternoon which may help in lowering the temperatures slightly. But the skies will remain hazy with high humidity. Today’s high will be 87° with a low of 71°.

A virtual state of martial law has been declared in parts of South Philadelphia due to race riots that began on Friday evening. The “barred zone” is in parts of the Grays Ferry/Point Breeze neighborhoods. As of today three men are dead and at least a dozen are in hospitals due to injuries. Sixty United States Marines have joined 300 policemen and a detail of the Philadelphia Home Guard to patrol the area and keep the peace.  One hundred mounted reserve policemen have been placed on notice that they may be called at any moment to assist those already on the scene. Any congregation of people in the “barred zone” is forbidden. Pedestrians are being stopped and searched for weapons. Anyone intoxicated is being immediately arrested. Saloons and all restaurants in the zone serving alcohol have been ordered closed.

The violence began when a group of white men gathered outside of the home of Mrs. Adella Bond late Friday night. Mrs. Bond is a colored woman and had recently moved into a house at 2936 Ellsworth Street. Mrs. Bond works as a probation officer in the Municipal Court. The men resented a negro moving into the neighborhood and began throwing bricks and stones at the house breaking the windows. Mrs. Bond appeared at one window and fired into the crowd hitting one of the men in the leg. Since then mobs of whites and blacks have been fighting in the streets of the neighborhood. Dozens have been shot, stabbed and beaten with bricks and clubs.

The dead are Hugh Lavery, 34 years old, of 1229 South 26th Street. Mr. Lavery was shot by a Negro early Sunday morning at 26th & Oakford Streets during a confrontation between a group of policemen assisted by white citizens and a negro mob. During the confrontation Mr. Joseph Butler, a negro, of 4849 Haverford Avenue fired his revolver into the crowd killing Mr. Lavery.

Also dead is Policeman Thomas McVay, 24 years old, of 2735 Oxford Street. Policeman McVey was shot by Henry Huff of 2745 Titan Street. Huff was running from police when he rushed into his house. He was followed by Patrolman McVey and others. As McVey came up the stairs to the 2nd floor Huff shot him. Two other policemen were also shot and injured. Huff is being held without bail. And killed was Mr. Riley Bullock, a negro, 30 years old of 2032 Annin Street. Mr. Bullock was shot dead as he entered the 20th & Federal Streets police station. Bullock was in the custody of two plain clothes policeman when the shooting occurred.

Superintendent of Police William Mills has blamed the disturbances on the huge importation of southern negroes into the city. He said they have come here for work in war industries and that as soon as they arrived they bought weapons with their new found freedom. He added that unfortunately this freedom is too much for them to handle. And once free of the restraint they had experienced in the south they are now “running wild”.  Negro homes in the neighborhood are being searched for weapons over the objections of colored lawyers who state this is a violation of their constitutional rights. Almost 60 negroes are under arrest thus far.

Superintendent of Police William Mills