What a Difference a Century Makes:  1915

Sixteen months of war, tens of thousands dead, and a daily demand
for two thousand pounds of explosives, and 300,000 shells.

By:  M. Callahan

1915 US Population:  100,546,000
2015 US Population:  319,000,000

President: Woodrow Wilson
Vice President: Thomas R. Marshall
Sect. of State:  William Jennings Bryan
Virginia Governor:  Henry Carter Stuart
Chief Justice Supreme Court:  Edward Douglass White
Speaker of the House:  Champ Clark (D-Missouri)
VA Senators:  Charles A. Swanson & Thomas Martin

Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Orson Wells, Mosha Dayan, Les Paul, Billie Holiday, Herman Wouk, Ingrid Bergman and Frank Sinatra.

Booker T. Washington, William Seward, AG Spaulding, Alfred Vanderbilt on board the Lusitania.


  • British ocean liner Lusitania sunk by German submarine, 1,198 perish
  • Second Battle of Ypres is fought and is the first time German troops used poison gas. The battle began on Apr. 22, 1915, when the Germans launched a massive assault on the salient at Ypres. The attack was unsuccessful and was broken off in May.
  • Massacre of Armenians by Turks begins
  • 1st German Zeppelin attack over Great Britain, 4 die.
  • British nurse Edith Cavell is executed by a German firing squad for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium
  • Transcontinental telephone service inaugurated (NY to SF)
  • US Coast Guard created from Life Saving & Revenue Cutter Services
  • F F Fletcher is 1st admiral to receive Congressional Medal of Honor
  • Fire destroys most of the buildings on Santa Catalina Island, California.
  • On October 21at the first transatlantic radiotelephone message, was sent from Arlington, VA to Paris.
  • Harry Houdini performs a straitjacket escape performance.
  • Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube for use in advertising.
  • NY Yankees don pinstripes & hat-in-the-ring logo for 1st time
  • Congress sets up Federal Trade Commission, passes Clayton Antitrust Act.
  • Women in uniform were a novelty in 1914 and yet 80,000 women served in the forces as non-combatants during World War I.  The war put women into factories, driving ambulances, nursing at the front lines, and on their way to the VOTE and emancipation.
  • In February, while working as a cook at New York's Sloane Hospital for Women under an assumed name, "Typhoid Mary" (an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever) infects 25 people, and is placed in quarantine on March 27th, for life.
  • The familiar round Quaker Oats package is introduced.
  • The “Second” Galveston Hurricane was the 4th most costly in US history at 71.3 billion.
  • There were an estimated 6.5 million farms in the U.S.
  • The first stone of the Lincoln Memorial is put into place.
  • Charlie Chaplin's film The Tramp is released.
  • The one millionth Ford automobile rolls off the assembly line.
  • The Victor Talking Machine Co. introduces a phonograph, called the Victrola.
  • Helena Rubenstein arrives in NYC encouraging women to take charge of their appearance as well as their own lives, creating an industry of self-improvement.  
  • The Birth of a Nation, 1915 American silent drama film directed by D. W. Griffith is released.  Despite the film's controversial content, Griffith's innovative film techniques make it one of the most influential films in the commercial film industry, and it is often ranked as one of the greatest American films of all time.  This film was later used for recruitment by the KKK.


    Federal Spending:  $0.75 billion
    Consumer Price Index:  10.1 up from 7.9 in 1914
    Unemployment: 8.5% up from 4.3 % in 1913
    Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.02
    Loaf of bread:  $0.05
    Gallon of gasoline:  $0.25
    One dozen eggs:  $0.27
    Gallon of milk:  $0.36
    Movie Ticket:  $0.07
    Cost of Average Automobile:  $500
    Ave. Home Price:  $3200
    1 Oz Gold:  $20.67
    1 Oz. Silver:  $1.29
World Series:  Boston Red Sox d. Philadelphia Phillies (4-1)
Stanley Cup:  Vancouver Millionaires
Wimbledon Women: Not Held (WWI)
Wimbledon Men: Not Held (WWI)
Kentucky Derby Champion:  Regret
NCAA Football Champions:  Cornell (9-0-0)

19th Boston Marathon:  Edouard Fabre of Canada in 2:31:41.2
21st US Golf Open: John Travers shoots a 297 at Baltusrol GC, NJ
Heavyweight Boxing Champion: Jack Johnson 
Indianapolis 500:  Ralph DePalma


    • Chemistry: American, Theodore W Richards 
    • Physics: Sir William Bragg and William L. Bragg (UK), for analysis of crystal structure by X-rays
    • Physiology or Medicine: None awarded
    • Nobel in Literature-Romain Rolland (France)
      • Nobel Peace Prize Not Awarded

      • The Second Battle of Ypres (1915) was the only major German attack on the Western Front.  German efforts were concentrated against the Russians on the Eastern Front.
      • World War I became the testing ground for the tactics and technology of air power; thereafter becoming a focus in military deployment.
      • Aerial bombardment consisted of simple bombs made from modified artillery shells, simply dropped by hand.
      • Aircraft were now designed for specific tasks & defined roles since becoming faster with more powerful & reliable engines.
      • Sir Douglas Haig replaces Sir John French as commander of the British Expeditionary Force.
      • Germany begins an aerial bombing campaign against Britain using Zeppelins. As one eye witness explained, "The whole street seemed to explode. There was smoke and flames all over, but the worst of it was the screams of the dying and the wounded and mothers looking frantically for their kids."
      • Allied amphibious attacks on the Dardanelles and Gallipoli ends with the Turkish siege of the Allied forces.  The Allies begin an orderly evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula at the end of 1915,  after months of a stalemate in which Turkish troops contained all breakthrough attempts while inflicting 250,000 casualties. The British Navy successfully evacuates 83,000 survivors.  Churchill resigns since he Gallipoli plan had been his.
      • Italy leaves the  Triple Alliance with the German Empire and Austria-Hungary, and joins the Allies.
      • The Battle of Loos was the largest British offensive mounted on the Western Front in 1915. The first British use of poison gas occurred and the battle was the first mass engagement of New Army units. The British offensive was part of the attempt by the French to break through the German defenses in Artois and Champagne and restore a war of movement. Despite improved methods, more ammunition and better equipment the Franco-British attacks were contained by the German armies.
      • German Army uses a new weapon, the flame thrower.


Washington, DC:  1915
Significant building projects pop up all over Washington,  Society continues as usual although news of the European war, and Japanese expansion in the east, are constant topic.

1915 DC Population 361,329                                        
2015 DC Population 643,000

Once called "the shortest and most exclusive railway in the world," the U.S. Capitol Subway—AKA "The Senate Subway"—is a little-known secret to most Americans. Initially built in 1912, a small, two-line monorail system linked the Capitol building to the Russell Senate Office Building just 1/5 of a mile away. The open-air cars held 18 people in wicker seats, took 45 seconds to make a one-way trip, and were known to travel back and forth up to 225 times a day when the Senate was in session.

Why a private subway under the Capitol?  Known as the shortest and most exclusive railway in the world, the US Capitol Subway (also known as the Senate Subway) is needed so that Senators and Members of Congress can travel from their office buildings to their chambers at the Capitol to vote.  The original cars were built by the Studebaker Company and first put into use on March 7, 1909. 

This line was replaced in 1912 (see photo above) with an operator-controlled monorail installed for the Dirksen Senate Office Building, just 1/5 mile away.  Taking 45 seconds one-way, these open air cars could hold 18 people on their wicker seats. When the Senate was in session, they took up to 225 round trips daily.

By 1993 additional lines were added connecting the Rayburn House Office Building and the Dirksen Line was extended to the hart Senate Office Building.  It was also replaced by an automatic train.

Designed by architect Frank Pierce Milburn, the Powhatan  Hotel was located two blocks west of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, on 18th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and H Street. It,  was one of the better hotels in the city.

The Powhatan had an excellent view of the city from its roof deck making it an even more popular meeting place. By the time buildings grew up around it obscuring its views, the Powhatan was dated. Ultimately, it was razed in 1977.

Construction on the Lincoln Memorial broke ground in 1914. The photo below reveals the foundation and interior walls of the monument under construction in 1915. The foundation was built on level ground and then partly covered with dirt so steps could rise to the first level.

According to the guide books, “The Memorial is filled with symbolism: the 36 columns represent the states in the union at the time of Lincoln's death.   The area where the statue stands is 60 feet wide, 74 feet long, and 60 feet high. The interior of the Memorial is divided into three chambers by two rows of Ionic columns. These columns, four in each row, are 50 feet tall and 5.5 feet in diameter at their base. The north and south side chambers contain carved inscriptions of Lincoln's second inaugural address, and his Gettysburg Address.”

“In this Temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”   …   Epitaph by Royal Cortissoz


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1915 Galveston Storm took 250-400 lives and arrived 15 years after the great Galveston Hurricane.  The seawalls built after the 1900 hurricane did help to slow the reported 21' waves, but did not prevent mass damage.British ocean liner Lusitania sunk by German submarine, 1,198 perish, including American Alfred Vanderbilt.German Fokker 1915German Zeppelin 1915HMS Ark Royal with aircraft aboard, 1915

Champ Clarke, Speaker of the US House of Representatives 1915

William Jennings Bryant, US Sect. of State 1915

Peter Stasser, German Imperial Navy, Commander Zeppelin Force 1915-1917

Gen. Joseph Joffre, France 1915

Washington 1915

Early Senate Subway Car runs between the Capitol & Senate Office Bldg. 1915

Terrace at the Powhatan Hotel, 18th St. between Penn. Ave. and H Street

Laying the cornerstone of the Lincoln Memorial 1915

Construction of the Lincoln Memorial

Pictures are from Wikipedia and the Library of Congress.


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