10 Metro Manila Roads, Then and Now (Before Carmaggedon)
Metro Manila has changed drastically over the decades, with new buildings and sights being built here and there. The old calles and esquinitas have made way for more spacious highways and avenues. On the downside, traffic has worsened the wear and tear of these thoroughfares. Nowadays, people don’t have the luxury to step back and admire their surroundings, since we're all too hot-headed to stay positive while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Let’s take a step back in time, when Metro Manila’s roads were a sight to behold, when traffic was bearable, and people actually used sidewalks.
This main road in the heart of the country’s business district didn’t look as posh 50 years ago. The stretch from Paseo de Roxas to Makati Avenue used to be a runway of the Nielson Airport (which is now Blackbird, the restaurant), one of the first airports built in Luzon. Unfortunately, the airport was destroyed during the Japanese occupation. It only resumed operations after World War II in 1947. The runways were converted into a road in 1949.
Before Quezon Boulevard, there was Calle Regidor. Quezon Boulevard was built over it in 1939, with a few modifications. The road was widened and buildings on the east side were demolished to merge Calle Regidor with Calle Martin Ocampo.
Calle Regidor was named after La Solidaridad writer Antonio Maria Regidor, while Calle Martin Ocampo was named after El Renacimiento and La Vanguardia editor Martin Ocampo. Quezon Boulevard, of course, is a tribute to Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon.
Nowadays, Rizal Avenue or Avenida is literally overshadowed by the towering LRT Yellow Line, but it was once a bright, lively road lined with shops and Art Deco theaters designed by National Artists Juan Nakpil and Pablo Antonio.
When Manila was declared an open city during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, Rizal Avenue was spared from destruction since it was one of the capital's major thoroughfares. Business even boomed for the establishments in this area in the early months of the Japanese occupation.
Padre Burgos Avenue
Padre Burgos Avenue, named after martyred priest Jose Burgos, is a 14-lane thoroughfare in Manila. It provides access to other major roads such as Taft Avenue, Rizal Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, and Quezon Boulevard. Manila City Hall can also be accessed using this road, as well as Rizal Park and Intramuros.
The main “entrance” to the UP Diliman campus is the University Avenue. It is 2,600-feet long, connecting C.P. Garcia Street and Commonwealth Avenue. At the end of the stretch is the Oblation Plaza where the Oblation stands, which has become an enduring symbol for the state university and its community.
The avenue is also the historic site of the Diliman Commune, an uprising led by students in 1971, to oppose rising oil prices and militarization within the campus. Students used chairs, tables, and other materials to barricade the avenue to prevent police and military units from getting inside the campus.
This waterfront boulevard, famed for the Manila Bay sunset, was originally called Cavite Boulevard. It was later renamed Dewey Boulevard after Admiral George Dewey, who defeated the Spanish Navy in the Battle of Manila Bay. During the Japanese occupation, it was called Heiwa Boulevard and finally, it was called Roxas Boulevard by the 1960s, in honor of President Manuel Roxas.
One of the oldest streets in the country, this is the road that government officials used on their way to Intramuros, as early as 1760. High-ranking officials were usually escorted, thus its name “Escolta” from the Spanish word which means “to escort.”
In the 1800s up to the late 1990s, it was the premier business and commercial center of Manila. It is currently being revived by artists and business groups with art festivals and a collaborative space called The Heritage Collective.
This avenue, named after the former Philippine Governor-General and U.S. President William Howard Taft, was originally called Calle Rizal. The original avenue was completed in 1899, stretching from Padre Burgos Street, now called C-1, until Calle Herran, now known as Pedro Gil Street. There were several series of extensions over the years and by 1915, it was renamed Taft Avenue.
First, it was called Avenida 19 de Junio. Then it was called Highway 54. In 1959, it was officially named EDSA, short for Epifanio de los Santos Avenue as per Republic Act 2140. Epifanio de los Santos was a Rizaleño, jurist, historian, and academic genius.
While EDSA has gotten a bad rep for heavy traffic or carmageddon, it is also synonymous to the historic People Power Revolution.
Formerly called Calle Quezon, Aurora Boulevard was built in 1900 from Katipunan Avenue to EDSA. In 1910, it was extended to Infanta, Quezon, and the extension was called the Marikina Infanta Highway. In 1963, it was further extended to Araneta Avenue and the highway was renamed Aurora Boulevard, in honor of Aurora Quezon, wife of President Manuel Quezon.
Magnolia Ice Cream House, the country’s first ice cream parlor in the Philippines, was located here, at the corner of Aurora Boulevard and Hemady Street (now Robinsons Magnolia).
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.