Then and Now – Puente de España
Posted by BCS on October 12, 2008
As I’ve mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve always thought that the Puente de España and Jones Bridge stood on the same exact spot. However, after looking at various maps and reading more about the older bridge, I found out that its northern end lead directly to Calle Nueva (Yuchengco Street now) and not Plaza Moraga and Calle Rosario (Quitin Paredes Street now) as Jones Bridge’s is now.
According to the book “Three centuries of Binondo Architecture” (by Lorelei D.C. de Viana, 2001, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House), the Puente de España was preceded by a bridge named Puente Grande.
The Puente Grande was constructed in 1629 and was the first stone bridge to cross the Pasig River. The bridge was reconstructed in the 19th century and was renamed Puente de España.
However, in Volume XIII of “The Philippine Islands , 1493-1898” (Blair and Robertson), a different (and earlier) date is indicated with regards to its construction which, according to it, occurred in 1602.
The bridge is also mentioned in a footnote of the book “The Philippine Islands” by John Foreman (1906) which reads:
“On the site of this last bridge the Puente de Barcas (Pontoon Bridge) existed from 1632 to 1863, when it was destroyed by the great earthquake of that year. The new stone bridge was opened in 1875, and called the Puente de España.”
These books may not agree on the dates (and even the names) but there’s no doubt at all that the bridge was a very important and famous one.
For one, Murat Halstead, in his book “The Story of the Philippines and Our New Possessions, Including the Ladrones, Hawaii, Cuba and Porto Rico” (1898), calls the bridge as “the most important bridge across Pasig”.
Paul T. Gilbert, in his book “The Great White Tribe in Filipinia” (1903, Jennings and Pye), wrote:
“The Bridge of Spain, that famous artery of commerce, over which a stream of carabao-carts, crowded tram-cars, pleasure vehicles, and army wagons flows continuously, spans the Pasig River at the head of the Escolta in Binondo.”
And if that ain’t enough, here is an excerpt from Document No. 202 of the 1906 Final Report of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Commission regarding the Philippine exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 at St. Louis, Mo.:
“Chairman Wilson made a brief visit to the islands in May, 1903, to arrange plans for the work, and upon his return undertook the construction of the buildings and the beautifying of the grounds. Forty-seven acres of rolling country, lying for the most part on an elevation of the southwestern section of the World’s Fair grounds, were assigned to the Philippine exhibit. The work of construction consisted of building a miniature city, with streets and parks and complete sewerage, water, and electric light, and fire-alarm systems. The ground plan included a central park or plaza, the sides of the quadrangle being occupied, respectively, by the cathedral or educational building, the typical Manila house, the commerce building, and the government or administration building, each of these beautiful structures being filled with appropriate exhibits. In addition there were separate exhibit buildings devoted to forestry, mines, and metallurgy, to agriculture and horticulture, to fish and game, and to ethnology, all artistically placed. A reproduction of the ancient walls of Manila commanded the main approach to the Philippine grounds. After crossing a miniature reproduction of the Bridge of Spain, which spans the Pasig River at Manila, the visitors entered the Philippine reservation through the Real gate. Villages typical of the Philippine life, from the lowest grade to the better class, surrounded the main buildings, while on the south side were the quarters, camps, and parade grounds of the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine Scouts. The Manila Observatory, with a large outdoor relief map on the east and a hospital and office building in a convenient space on the west part of the grounds, completed the scheme.
“Each and every building constructed under Philippine auspices was typical of the islands. Vast quantities of bamboo and nipa, brought from the archipelago, were used in the construction of the native villages as well as in the Forestry, Mines, Agriculture, and Fish and Game buildings.
“While the expenditure for the exhibit far exceeded the amount originally contemplated by the Philippine Commission, due to many causes and conditions, it gave to the people of the United States a more intimate knowledge of the resources and possibilities of the Philippine Islands than they could acquire except by an actual and extended visit.”
Note on the use of the old photograph:
From the University of Michigan Library Website:
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“Users are free to download, copy, and distribute works in the public domain without asking for permission. To determine whether a work is in the public domain, see the section on the public domain of the Copyright & Fair Use site of Stanford University Libraries.”