Headlines of Yore

Transit workers in 1910 sparked a general strike that brought Philadelphia to a standstill

Upwards of 75k people walked off the job.

Protesters stoning a trolley car attempting to break the strike

Protesters stoning a trolley car attempting to break the strike

Bain News Service / Wikimedia Commons
aviwolfmanarent

💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.


With a history of work stoppages that runs up to the current day, SEPTA has been called the most-strike prone transit agency in the nation. But the biggest transportation strike in Philly happened before it was created — and spread far beyond its streetcar origins.

It was 1910 when the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company fired a couple hundred staffers for the simple offense of unionizing.

Thousands walked off their jobs running the streetcars, and the movement spread, breaking out into protests that sometimes turned violent. When state police were brought in, organized labor launched a general strike that saw more than 75,000 participants in Philly and spread to Newark, San Francisco, and New York.

Scroll down to read the thread on how things unfolded that late winter into spring.

Want some more? Explore other Headlines of Yore stories.

Let the news come to you

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter brings you the latest Philly news that everyone will be talking about in your Slack channel.

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Did you hear that?

That was the sound of you being informed after reading another BP article. If you believe local information should be free and accessible to all Philadelphians, will you support Billy Penn today?

Informing Philadelphians, one story at a time

Your generous donation brought this article to life. Become a sustaining member today to continue Billy Penn’s work.

Bring a friend into the Billy Penn-verse

Thanks for reading another story! Know a fellow Philadelphian that would appreciate BP? Tell them about our newsletter.