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 remains pleasant with clear bright skies. The temperature will be a bit warmer then yesterday with the high reaching 72° and a low of 53°.

The mortality report for last week shows 706 people died from the Spanish Influenza. The total of all deaths last week was 1,191 breaking all previous records. In the last 24 hours 254 deaths from the grip and pneumonia have been reported. That is the highest number of deaths reported in one day in the city’s history. Physicians have reported 1,480 new cases of the flu in that same 24 hour period. It is estimated that there are currently 50,000 people in the city sick with the disease.

Director Krusen of the Department of Health in consultation with other medical authorities has developed a plan to combat the disease. New steps include: a rigid enforcement of anti-spitting laws; closing of public swimming pools (however the showers and tubs in those facilities will remain open); detailing of policemen with nursing experience to be used as emergency nurses and the training of other policemen to act in that capacity; and permitting the motor messenger corps to act as ambulances.

The call for nurses to come to the city and assist with the epidemic has largely gone unanswered. The shortage of trained nurses is reaching a critical stage. The Visiting Nurses Society, 1340 Lombard Street, reports it has 700 cases under its direction. The city has reassigned the nurses from the division of child hygiene to work on influenza cases. The Women’s Medical College has assigned its 3rd and 4th year nursing students to hospitals that need them. Other nursing schools are expected to take similar actions.

Every hospital in the city is being deluged by the sick. Last night a riot nearly broke out at Roosevelt Hospital when a crowd of foreign born residents demanded admittance and treatment. Two emergency hospitals have been established to deal with the overcrowding. One is at the Home for Indigent Poor in Holmesburg, the second is at the Methodist Temple at 5th Street above Spring Garden Street.

With the closing of the saloons people are looking to other establishments to procure whiskey. Many believe whiskey to be an effective treatment for the flu. To fill this need druggists may begin selling whiskey in half-pint flasks. Selling in such a quantity is not prohibited by the law closing the saloons and distilleries. Many druggists are currently selling two ounces of spirits of fermenti for 50 cents so selling whiskey could reap a windfall. And some druggists point out that during the influenza epidemic of 1889 whiskey and quinine were prescribed as the principle remedy.