The River and the Sea: Bridges, Ports and
Manila has always looked out over the sea, and this is its raison d'être.
Its livelihood depended on the ships that came and went. It is a maritime city.
Its river has both limited and united it.It was always difficult for large
ships to tie up near the city, and for this reason Cavite was used for centuries
as the port of the Philippine capital. Sandbanks built up at the river mouth,
making navigation dangerous; channelling dikes were built in the mid 18th
century. Much later, in 1881, the first project for a port in Manila was drawn
up. The latest advances in methods and techniques for port construction were
used in it.
The Pasig River and its creek channels are the great
communication routes for Manila. The islands they form also give definition to
the different districts that are growing up, while the river separates the
Intramuros precinct from its northern banks. Bridges connect all parts of the
city. At the end of the 19th century, the Port Works Board draws up a general
plan for channelling the waterways in order to improve fluvial communications.
Until well into the 19th century, the "Puente Grande" was the first and only
bridge to be built. After the 1863 earthquake, a new bridge replaced it in 1875.
This had eight arches - the two middle ones were built of iron - and was named
the "Puente de España". The second to be built was called the Clavería bridge.
This was a suspension bridge and was a landmark on the urban landscape of
Manila; it linked Quiapo with the Arroceros district and was opened to the
public in 1852. A third construction, the Ayala bridge was built in two separate
sections; it crossed the river at Convalecencia island and was opened in 1880.
Marine traffic in the bay increased heavily during the second half of the
19th century. It was at this time that the construction of lighthouses began.
Examples of this are the San Nicolás lighthouse and those built on Corregidor
Island, all of which were constructed in accordance with the latest advances in
|The "Puente de España" over the Pasig River in
Manila. Casto Olano in Colección de planos... 1876. BETSICCP, Madrid
After the destruction of the "Puente Grande" , a project was drawn up for
an eight-arch combined construction: the two central arches had wider
spans, were low, and were built from iron, the remaining six arches being
built from quarried stone.
||The "Concepción" portion of the Convalecencia bridge
in Manila. Eduardo López Navarro in Colección de planos correspondientes a
varias de las construcciones realizadas o proyectadas por la Inspección
General de Obras Públicas de las Islas Filipinas. 1876. BETSICCP,
Madrid The Ayala bridge, as it was also known, crossed the river in
two independent sections that converged on Convalecencia Island. Each of
these sections was formed by three low arches and a lower platform, all of
which were timber-built. |
|View of the "Puente de España", built after the 1863
earthquake. Álbum fotográfico... End of the 19th century. BN The
metallic parts of the "Puente de España" - the central arches, the
balustrades and the candelabra - were imported from France, this being
organized by José Echeverría, the Spanish engineer posted there.
||View of the suspension bridge in the city of Manila.
Álbum fotográfico... Late 19th century. BN The suspension bridge was
constructed by private enterprise which operated it on a toll basis. The
project was drawn up by the French engineer M. Gabaud.
The Ayala bridge between
Convalecencia island and the Concepción district collapsed in this year. La
Ilustración Española y Americana, 1890. BN Although scarcely ten years had
passed since it was opened, by 1889 the Ayala bridge was in a dangerous
condition. That year, the section between the island and the San Miguel district
collapsed, and only a few months later the Concepción section followed suit.
||Situation plan of the port and arsenal of Cavite.
1832 MN During the 18th century, the port of Cavite, close to Manila,
was preferred as an anchorage for ships reaching the city, since it had a
greater depth of water. |
|Project for the port of Manila. José García Morón.
Revista de Obras Públicas, 1889-1890 During the 1880's, a greater
number of efforts were made to provide Manila with an exterior port that
would match its trading, economic and political importance.
||New project for an artificial port for the city of
Manila. José García Morón. 1890. AHN Generally speaking, the proposal
consisted of creating a sheltered area for ships to anchor in. In
addition, large areas would be set aside for the construction of sheds and
warehouses to store produce and merchandise awaiting shipment to Europe
and America. |
|Project for a battery on the south wall. Mariano de
Goicoechea. 1834. SHM Throughout its history, the defence of Manila
was a constant cause of concern which gave rise to continual
fortifications works on the seaboard front.
||Section of the Pasig River close to the Manila city
walls. 19th century. SHM During the 19th century, a great deal of
effort was devoted to the channelling and straightening of the Pasig river
estuary and the defence of its banks.
|Channelling dikes to counter the sediments that
silted up the Pasig mouth. 1757. SGE During the 18th century, dredging
works and campaigns were carried out to clear the accumulation of sand at
the river mouth, which was a hindrance to navigation and entry into the
||View of the Pasig River and the stone-built "Puente
Grande", before the 1863 earthquake. Fernando Brambila. Collection of
drawings and engravings made on the Malaspina Expedition. 1789-1794.
MN Built in the first half of the 17th century, and until the
suspension bridge was opened, the "Puente Grande" was the only bridge
crossing the Pasig River. In 1814, the wooden roadway was replaced with
masonry arches. |
|The "Punta Santiago" lighthouse (Batangas) which
provided signalling in the strait between Luzon and the island of
Mindanao. Magin Pers y Pers and Guillermo Brockmann. La Ilustración
Española y Americana. José Fernández. 1891. BN In 1890, the new
catadioptric lighthouse was opened to assist navigators by illuminating
this unavoidable route leading from the south and the Pacific towards the
||Project for a metallic lighthouse on the sandy
promontory of San Nicolás at Manila Bay. José Echeverría in Colección de
planos... 1876. BETSICCP, Madrid The majority of the lighthouses built
in the Philippines were of traditional construction, although some were
also built with a metallic structure in consonance with the latest trends
in European engineering. |
|Watchtower on Corregidor Island at the entrance to
Manila Bay. Ildefonso de Aragón. First half of the 19th century. SHM
Although the lighthouses constructed in the Philippines were of varied
types, they were all provided with living quarters for the tower keepers
and deposits for supplies of drinking water, which were essential in
isolated places with difficult access.
||Project drawn up for a lighthouse on Corregidor
Island. Mariano de Goicoechea. 1830. SHM Corregidor Island occupied a
position of importance at the entrance to Manila Bay, and for this reason
it was equipped with signalling lights from very early on.
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2004 Robert S. Gardner