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


The Weather Bureau is forecasting cloudy skies for today with the strong possibility of snow overnight and into tomorrow morning. Today’s high will reach 29° with the low this evening near 17°. The coal shortage continues to wreak havoc with the people and businesses of this city. An additional 1200 tons a day have been ordered to be delivered to the city by Federal Coal Administrator Garfield in hopes of alleviating some of these difficulties. These shipments are destined to be delivered mostly to West Philadelphia and should bring some relief to families and businesses in that part of the city. Also 1000 tons of coal has been offered to the City’s hospitals by the American Coal & Ice Company.

Desperate people have engaged in riots at railroad yards to obtain coal to heat their homes. The worst riots occurred yesterday when thousands of people stormed railroad yards and coal companies along Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia, including the William Bryant Coal Company at 10th & Washington. Men, women and children with buckets, bags, push carts and wagons rampaged through the yards and businesses grabbing all the coal they could carry. Women, some carrying babies, cried allowed that their children were freezing and starving and that this is what forced them to steal. Even though railroad crews and police were on hand no one attempted to stop the looters. One policeman explained that he could not, in good conscience, bring himself to stop a woman trying to keep her children from freezing by taking the lifesaving fuel.

Today a few hundred more people raided the railroad yard at Washington Avenue between Front & 2nd Streets to snatch as much coal as they could carry from an unattended car loaded with the precious rocks. At other yards throughout the City, crying women stood in the cold shivering and begging workers to throw them a piece or two of the precious fuel so they can heat their homes.


Yesterday the Lafayette Escadrille, the famous Allied flying corps, was officially sworn in as a unit into the American Expeditionary Force. The aeroplanes of the corps have previously flown with the symbol of the buffalo from the American nickel or an Indian head on their machines. Now the planes will sport the American flag. In other aviation news, John “Jack” Kelly, well known oarsman of the Vesper Boat Club and all-around athlete has transferred from the Pennsylvania Base Hospital Ambulance Corps to the aviation corps. Mr. Kelly has already left for Texas to begin training.