American Troops return from France. January 30, 1919. The welcome began far down the river. The City of Camden, charterd by the Citizens' Committee of Philadelphia, The Fearless, crowded with men and women from New Jersey, the tug Adriatic with a Committee of the Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania on board, and thousands of other gaily decorated craft crowded the Delaware River. Two thousand children waved small American flags. Thousands of others lined the Philadelphia and New Jersey banks of the Delaware.
Work temporarily ceased as shipworkers at Hog Island and at other riverfront plants as thousands of employees occupied every vantage pont and hurled cheers across the water. As the transport ship carrying 2,100 troops from France passed League Island, the guns boomed in salute. A brass band played at Pier 53. The S.S. Haverford had come home.
Originally designed for passenger service, the S.S. Haverford had been retrofitted as a troop transport after European travel across the Atlantic was heavily curtailed at the outbreak of World War 1. The ship had suffered two hits in the North Atlantic, was repaired, and put back into war service. Later in 1919 the steamship was repurposed as a passenger ship, and resumed its accustomed route from Liverpool and Queenstown to Philadelphia.
First Regiment of Marines parading on Broad Street.
When the troops arrived at Pier 53, representatives of the Red Cross, Y.M.C.A., Knights of Columbus, Jewish Welfare Board, and Salvation Army served sandwiches and coffee, "smokes," candy and other gifts. The men were then
Saturday, June 8. Brass bands! Music! Flags! A celebration at Pier 53 of the 100th anniversary of the return of American troops from France. Watch this space for further details.
Ongoing at Washington Avenue Green is the Pier 53 Project—a historical study of the immigrants who arrived at the Pier from 1876 to the 1920's, their stories, and the stories of their descendants. Each story is part of a mosaic that contributes to the history of Philadelphia and its waterfront, and ultimately to the history of immigration in the United States.
Here's the link to the Pier 53 Project page on this site. Pier 53 Project
And here's the link to a podcast first aired on WHYY on June 14, 2018. It includes an interview with Susan McAninley and a description of the Pier 53 Project.