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


Howling winds last night brought with them snow and sleet to the city. This morning travel was difficult due to some streets being covered by a sheet of ice. Today we will see fair skies with diminishing winds from the northwest but the cold remains. Today’s high will only reach 27° with the low tonight near 14°.

A spectacular three-alarm fire at 837 Market Street last night lit up the center city sky. The 5 story building houses a number of businesses. Many people working in the building were overcome by smoke and some suffered minor injuries. Also 6 firemen were injured fighting the blaze. Assisting the Philadelphia Fire Department were the fire-fighting forces of Gimbel Brothers and Strawbridge & Clothier department stores. The wind, snow and slippery street made fighting the fire difficult. It took more than two hours before it was put out. No greater heroism was shown in the fight than that of William J. Mohan (shown below) the elevator operator for the building. Mr. Mohan, of 1743 South Taney Street, stayed at his post running his elevator up and down the blazing shaft to rescue those trapped on the upper floors. Mr. Mohan rescued over 50 people before he himself collapsed as he left the building.

William J. Mohan

William J. Mohan

From across the River comes news that Camden may soon put wife beaters to work. Ninety men presently confined in Camden County jail for wife beating and desertion will be sent to work at the city owned asphalt plants which will provide their wives and families with the majority of the wages they earn. The plan, proposed by City Commissioner Alfred Sayers, must be approved by city council. Mr. Sayres explained that the plan would provide Camden with labor to manufacture the asphalt needed to pave the city streets and also provide money to the convicts’ families so they will not need to go to the public charity.

In the Mexican situation, over 5,500 American soldiers are now in Mexico as a “flying column” riding to get Pancho Villa dead or alive. Almost immediately upon crossing the border the Americans were fired upon by Mexican guerrillas but no causalities are reported. On our side of the border Mexicans attacked troops guarding a railroad bridge at Kingston, Texas. No American casualties were suffered and the outlaws were repulsed. The Texas Rangers and Texas Militia as well as the New Mexico militia are now patrolling the border.

On the sports beat, the High School baseball schedule was released today. The season will start on April 3 and end on May 26 consisting of 84 total games. Also Frankford and Germantown High Schools have been added to the league joining West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, Northeast, Central High, Philadelphia Trades School and Catholic High.