Have you ever wondered how Manila looked like thirty or fifty years ago? My father used to say that Tondo wasn’t always the slum-filled area like it is now and the Manila Bay was once the best bay in all of Asia. The old Manila is a mix of different cultures from our Malay ancestors to the Spanish influence, it’s a beautiful city of diversity.
Here are some old pictures of Manila and the stories behind them:
Binondo, Manila in 1800’s
Binondo is the oldest Chinatown in the world established in 1594. It is located across the Pasig River and is the center of commerce among Filipino and Chinese merchants. Before World War II, Binondo was the center of a banking and financial community which included insurance companies, commercial banks and other financial institutions from the UK and the United States. The place was called the “Wall Street of the Philippines” located along Escolta.
Wash Day at the Pasig River, 1920
The Pasig River once served as an important means of transport before Manila got overly populated. It was the city’s lifeline and center of economic activity. After World War II, massive pollution invaded the city. Soon, people stopped using the water of the river in the early 1960s, then fishing became prohibited in the 1980s because of its extremely polluted state. It was considered biologically dead in 1990.
University of Sto. Tomas in 1927
One of UST’s first name is The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines or La Real y Pontificia Universidad de Santo Tomas de Aquino, La Universidad Católica de Filipinas in Spanish which later simplified to University of Sto. Tomas. It was established in 1611 and located within the walled city of Intramuros. It’s the most earthquake-proof building in Manila.
Araneta Coliseum in 1960
Amado Araneta purchased a 35-hectare land in Cubao, Quezon City on the year 1952. Its construction began in 1957 and it was officially finished in year 1959 by Chinese-Filipino architects and Engineers. Now known as the Smart Araneta Coliseum, it is one of the world’s largest covered coliseum with a 23,000 square meters of floor area. It was publicly opened in the 1960 with the construction budget of Php 6 Million.
Escolta is one of the oldest streets in Manila. It was created in 1594 with its name derived from the Spanish word ‘escoltar’ which means to escort. The residents of this street were mostly Chinese merchants, that’s why it was lined-up with shops and became the city’s central business district. It hosted then Manila’s tallest building which is the Manila Stock Exchange. However, businesses in the area began to decline in the 1960s as business owners started transferring to Makati.