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Old 09-05-2018, 05:59 PM
 
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One of the most significant and darkest events in the city's history took place in Sept. 1918 in the midst of WWI. While the plague spread all across the US, it hit Philadelphia the hardest. There is a lot of interesting information to read. It isn't often talked about so I figured I would share.

Quote:
Early in September, a Navy ship from Boston carried influenza to Philadelphia, where the disease erupted in the Navy Yard. The city’s public health director, Wilmer Krusen, declared that he would “confine this disease to its present limits, and in this we are sure to be successful. No fatalities have been recorded. No concern whatever is felt.”
The next day two sailors died of influenza. Krusen stated they died of “old-fashioned influenza or grip,” not Spanish flu. Another health official declared, “From now on the disease will decrease.”
The next day 14 sailors died—and the first civilian. Each day the disease accelerated. Each day newspapers assured readers that influenza posed no danger. Krusen assured the city he would “nip the epidemic in the bud.
How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America-Smithsonian

Quote:
On September 28, 200,000 people gathered for a fourth Liberty Loan Drive. Funding the war effort and showing one’s patriotic colors took precedence over concern for public health. Just days after the parade, 635 new cases of influenza were reported. Two days later, the city was forced to admit that epidemic conditions did indeed exist. Churches, schools, and theaters were ordered closed, along with all places of “public amusement." At its worst, the epidemic in Philadelphia would kill 759 people...in one day. Priests drove horse-drawn carts down city streets, calling upon residents to bring out their dead; many were buried in mass graves. More than 12,000 Philadelphians died—nearly all of them in six weeks.
The Flu in Philadelphia - PBS

Loan Day Parade Photo - Sept 28 1918

Navy Yard Warning Sign - Oct 1918

Trench Digging For Mass Graves - Oct 1918

I got the idea of making this thread because of an article I was reading about how Sweden essentially turned into a Socialist Welfare State because of the Flu. I wonder what some short term and long term effects came about because of it. I wonder if the perception of the city changed.

Last edited by thedirtypirate; 09-05-2018 at 06:48 PM..
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Old 09-05-2018, 09:08 PM
 
Location: The place where the road & the sky collide
23,168 posts, read 28,579,960 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thedirtypirate View Post
One of the most significant and darkest events in the city's history took place in Sept. 1918 in the midst of WWI. While the plague spread all across the US, it hit Philadelphia the hardest. There is a lot of interesting information to read. It isn't often talked about so I figured I would share.

How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America-Smithsonian

The Flu in Philadelphia - PBS

Loan Day Parade Photo - Sept 28 1918

Navy Yard Warning Sign - Oct 1918

Trench Digging For Mass Graves - Oct 1918

I got the idea of making this thread because of an article I was reading about how Sweden essentially turned into a Socialist Welfare State because of the Flu. I wonder what some short term and long term effects came about because of it. I wonder if the perception of the city changed.
If I'm remembering correctly, I think that 1918 was also the last outbreak of yellow fever.
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Old 09-06-2018, 07:16 AM
 
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My aunt, my Dad's baby sister, was born on August 6, 1918. So she was a month old when the epidemic really hit here.

She is 100 years old and the oldest relative I now have.

What I find remarkable, given what happened, is all four of my grandparents(who were all in the Phila. area at the time) didn't get sick or died. Neither did any of their siblings or their children.

One point though, I don't recall my grands ever talking about it. Too painful to remember, I guess.
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Old 09-06-2018, 07:25 AM
 
10,265 posts, read 5,931,280 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thedirtypirate View Post
One of the most significant and darkest events in the city's history took place in Sept. 1918 in the midst of WWI. While the plague spread all across the US, it hit Philadelphia the hardest. There is a lot of interesting information to read. It isn't often talked about so I figured I would share.

How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America-Smithsonian

The Flu in Philadelphia - PBS

Loan Day Parade Photo - Sept 28 1918

Navy Yard Warning Sign - Oct 1918

Trench Digging For Mass Graves - Oct 1918

I got the idea of making this thread because of an article I was reading about how Sweden essentially turned into a Socialist Welfare State because of the Flu. I wonder what some short term and long term effects came about because of it. I wonder if the perception of the city changed.
Several of my relatives were in the area at the time so it surely affected all of them in some way. But, I simply have zero memory of my grandparents(all of whom I knew and grew up around) ever bringing it up. But, granted, I was a kid and it wasn't something one would discuss in front of children. My parents never said a word about it either. They were toddlers in 1918. My mom was in the suburbs. My dad was in W. Phila.
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Old 09-06-2018, 07:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by southbound_295 View Post
If I'm remembering correctly, I think that 1918 was also the last outbreak of yellow fever.
Maybe. But the really big yellow fever outbreaks here were in the 18th century(1793). I think the US capital work had to be moved. Either to Trenton or Lancaster. I can't remember which.
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Old 09-06-2018, 07:49 AM
 
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OT but can be added as a tangential fact.

Philadelphia has, approximately, 500 centenrarians living in the city. Many of them are natives like my aunt. Every year the city throws a party for these people at the Sugar House casino.

Every one of these people also lived through the great Flu epidemic so, in a way, that's something to celebrate.
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Old 09-06-2018, 11:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyb01 View Post
My aunt, my Dad's baby sister, was born on August 6, 1918. So she was a month old when the epidemic really hit here.

She is 100 years old and the oldest relative I now have.

What I find remarkable, given what happened, is all four of my grandparents(who were all in the Phila. area at the time) didn't get sick or died. Neither did any of their siblings or their children.

One point though, I don't recall my grands ever talking about it. Too painful to remember, I guess.

My late grandmother was born in February 1917 in South Philadelphia. In the context of your above post, it's surely a miracle, to a certain extent, that I'm here at all. She was one of five, and two of her sisters died young (but I think that was TB). Then her parents both died when she was nine years old. She had a tough life, to be sure.
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:10 PM
 
Location: The place where the road & the sky collide
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Originally Posted by kyb01 View Post
Maybe. But the really big yellow fever outbreaks here were in the 18th century(1793). I think the US capital work had to be moved. Either to Trenton or Lancaster. I can't remember which.
One of my grandmothers had an uncle who had gone to Philadelphia (from rural Michigan) & he died in 1918. I haven't found the date, which would determine if it was it was yellow fever or the flu.
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Old 09-06-2018, 05:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by southbound_295 View Post
One of my grandmothers had an uncle who had gone to Philadelphia (from rural Michigan) & he died in 1918. I haven't found the date, which would determine if it was it was yellow fever or the flu.

Interest, I have never read anything about Yellow Fever happening that year too.



In the grand scheme of things, the fever of 1793 was probably more devastating. Some say that's why George Washington decided to go lay the first blocks that would become build Washington DC. 5,000 people died in 1793 between Aug and Nov. That's a WAY higher percentage than the 12k in 1918 where the city pop. was nearing 2 million.
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Old 09-06-2018, 10:37 PM
 
Location: North by Northwest
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My great-great-grandfather died in the epidemic. No other family was affected, as far as I know.
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