Then and Now – Puente Colgante
Posted by BCS on October 17, 2008
There’s a photograph of this bridge on the Bridgemeister website submitted by Mr. Rene Sumodobila with a note that states:
“It had a single lane in each travel way to allow passage of horse-drawn carriages and a pedestrian island in the middle. The Puente Colgante is said to be first suspension bridge in the Far East. The bridge materials were imported from England by Matia Menchacatorre y Cia, a Spanish company, in joint venture with Ayala y Cia, a local company. The contruction was supervised by M. Gabaud, a French engineer. Inaugurated in January 4, 1852, it went into service until 1940 in order to give way to the modern-day Quezon Bridge.”
As I was looking for information about this bridge, more often than not I would come across Gustave Eiffel’s name (yes, THE Eiffel). There are some who claims that Puente Colgante was designed by him, while some says it’s the present Quezon Bridge (which is the successor of Puente Colgante). There are some who says that it was the precursor of the present day Ayala Bridge (the one that replaced the wooden “crooked” bridge), while there are also those who say it’s the CURRENT Ayala Bridge. In Wikipedia (which I rarely use for this series of posts), it’s the Quezon Bridge.
I emailed Mr. Sumodobila a few days ago asking him if he had any additional information about the bridge. I also asked about his say on its supposed connection to Gustave Eiffel.
And I quote:
“…when you study the life of Eiffel, he was only 20 years old when Puente Colgante was inaugurated in 1852! It would be hard to believe that he could build such structure at the young age.
“Somebody else may have designed and built the bridge! Perhaps [many] link [it to] Eiffel’s name because there was another trussed bridge (not Suspension) built later (late 1800s) across Pasig river by Eiffel.”
Mr. Sumodobila, by the way, was a Transportation Engineer at the California State Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) until 2006. He is now retired and is living in Bohol.
Anyway, I’m taking Mr. Sumodobila’s word for it as it does make a whole lot of sense. So, I’m now left with three bridges as the likely candidate as the one designed by Eiffel.
I will revisit this as soon as I’m able to gather more information.
By the way, the structure you see in the background of the old photograph is the Insular Ice Plant. In the fifth volume of “An Official Guide to Eastern Asia” (published in 1920) is stated thus:
“Ice and Cold Storage Plant—on the S. side of the Pasig, between the Sta. Cruz Bridge and the Colgante Bridge, is a government undertaking, for which the sum of P2,000,000 was originally spent (annual profits,–P120,000). It makes ice and distilled water, its output in a large measure meeting the demand of Manila for these articles.”
The ice plant, said to be the first ice plant in Asia(?) according to a Manila Bulletin article, was demolished in the 70s to make way for the construction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT).
Note on the use of the old photograph:
From the University of Michigan Library website:
“Users are free to cite and link to digital content without asking for permission.
“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.”