Then and Now – Plaza de España
Posted by BCS on October 26, 2008
I’ve spent quite an amount of time figuring out how the 1945 photo was taken even with all the clues seen on it and the maps I have as my references. And, still, I’m not 100% sure.
Notice that there’s a sign that says “Plaza de España” on the wall of the structure on the right edge of the old photograph. Obviously, this means that that side of the structure is facing towards the “Plaza de España”.
What confuses my untrained eyes and mind is the structure on the left which looks very much like a church.
Now, “Plaza de España” (which was, according to the marker found there, formerly known as “Plaza de los Martirez de la Integridad Nacional”) was bounded by the “Aduana” (north side), the Unibersidad de Santo Tomas (South West side), and the original Sto. Domingo Church (South East side).
Referring to the 1851 map of Intramuros, I thought, if the “Aduana” is on the right, it could only mean that the photo was taken towards the west and no church should be visible there. Instead, we should be seeing a portion of the old UST campus (is that how it looked like?). In addition to that, we also shouldn’t be seeing a street vanishing into the background.
For a brief moment I thought that the photo might have been exposed with the negative flipped over thus resulting to a “mirrored” positive print. But I dismissed the idea right away since the letters on the sign are not reversed.
I then compared the 1851 map to another map, dated 1898, and noticed a huge difference in the layout of the Plaza’s surrounding areas. In the newer map, the northern corner of the area occupied by the old UST campus does not extend anywhere near the Aduana (unlike in the older map) which provides for an unobstructed view of a street like the one seen on the old photo. Also, basing still on the newer map and from what I’m supposing was the vantage point of the old photograph, the UST campus should not be seen in the picture also. And for that, I’m supposing that the church-like structure seen on the left portion of the old photo is one that’s situated across the UST campus. So, what building is that?
In addition to that, the Plaza is named “Plaza de los Martirez de la Patria” and not “Plaza de los Martirez de la Integridad Nacional” as indicated on the marker I mentioned earlier.
One more thing that makes me doubt (somewhat) my conclusions is that the street seen in the old photo is not visible in the recent photograph I took. Has the layout been changed (once again) after the war? Or am I looking in the wrong direction?
By the way, the site on which the old Santo Domingo Church once stood is now occupied by the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) building. While the site of the old University of Santo Tomas campus is now occupied by the BF Condo building.
Note on the use of the old photograph and maps:
From the United States National Archives website:
“The vast majority of the digital images in the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) are in the public domain. Therefore, no written permission is required to use them. We would appreciate your crediting the National Archives and Records Administration as the original source. For the few images that remain copyrighted, please read the instructions noted in the “Access Restrictions” field of each ARC record.”
From the University of Texas Libraries website:
“Most of the maps scanned by the University of Texas Libraries and served from this web site are in the public domain. No permissions are needed to copy them. You may download them and use them as you wish.”