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


It is Memorial Day and all across the country Americans expressed their gratitude, honor and dedication to those who have died in the cause of freedom. There were parades in every town and city, large and small, honoring veterans of past wars as well as those serving in the present conflict. In accord with President Wilson’s Proclamation, Americans of all faiths and creeds observed this day as one of remembrance, prayer and fasting.

Neither the rain nor the unseasonably cool temperatures stopped the celebration here. Today’s high would only reach 59° with a low tonight of 54°. The parade on Broad Street included veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic and representatives of every fraternal and social organization of this city. The participants marched from South Philadelphia to Chestnut Street where the marchers turned and proceeded to Independence Hall for review.

G.A.R. Veterans at Union League

A second parade began at Broad & Arch Streets organized by the National Association of Naval Veterans. This group accompanied by Spanish American War veterans marched to the Delaware waterfront where a model replica of the U.S.S. Maine was launched and flowers dropped into the water in memory of the sailors who have given their lives.

Naval Veterans With Replica of U.S.S. Maine

Gatherings where also held in every neighborhood and especially at cemeteries were the graves of fallen soldiers and sailors where decorated with American flags and flowers. Every church and synagogue held services this morning in accord with the President’s request. At St. Monica’s Roman Catholic Church, 17th & Ritner Streets, a Mass was said for the 525 men of that parish presently serving in the military. And a service flag with 525 stars was paraded through the parish by the mothers of those men.

And for what may have been the first time in history, Orthodox Synagogues in the United States and Canada offered prayers for dead Christians. The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada decided that in accordance with President Wilson’s call for prayers the “Kaddish”, the Jewish prayer of mourning, be recited for  American and Allied Christian soldiers killed in the war.

Even our allies in arms joined in the commemorations around the country. Here in Philadelphia visiting British army officers asked permission to join in the activities. That permission was granted and one of the events they participated in was the laying of a wreath at the Statute of General Ulysses Grant in Fairmount Park.