|Calle de la Escolta
|0.5 km (0.31 mi)
Based on Google Maps
|N150 (Plaza Santa Cruz Road) in Santa Cruz
|Quintin Paredes Road in Binondo
Escolta Street (lit: Escort) is a historic east–west street located in the old downtown district of Binondo in Manila, Philippines. It runs parallel to the Pasig River, from Quintin Paredes Road (Plaza Moraga) to Plaza Santa Cruz Road (Plaza Lacson). The street is home to several fine examples of early skyscraper design in the Philippines. In Spanish, it is known as calle de la Escolta. Its definition as a historic financial district includes Escolta and other surrounding streets of Binondo and Santa Cruz. It currently carries one-way eastbound traffic towards Santa Cruz.
One of the oldest streets in Manila, Escolta was created in 1594. Its name was derived from the Spanish word escoltar, meaning "to escort".
In Walter Robb's essay Main Street, he states, "The gates of the walled city were closed at sunset, when curfew rang from the towers of all its churches; they were not opened again until dawn. Low, massive, stone-arched, typically medieval as you see them today, these gates were all furnished out with ponderous drawbridges lowered and raised by rude capstans, with strong porcullises of square iron bars which settled into place as the drawbridges rose upright." After some individuals went missing "along the sandy path to the bridge," Robb continues, a delegation petitioned the governor to station a detachment of halberdiers "along the path as a guard until after the city gates were closed." "The governor assented, detailing a grizzled officer to arrange the escort, the escolta, in such a manner as to protect the path for a period of six months; and from this the winding path by the riverside got its name, la escolta, the escort, long before it was widened to the dignity of a street."
Escolta was known for its concentration of immigrant merchants, mainly from Fujian, China, who came to make their fortune during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade. The street was lined with shops and boutiques selling imported goods from China, Europe and elsewhere in Latin America that arrived in the nearby port of San Nicolas. By the late 19th century, Escolta flourished into a fashionable business district hosting the city's tallest buildings as well as the Manila Stock Exchange. The shops were replaced by modern department stores and an electric tram line known as tranvía plied the street. Escolta served as the city's primary commercial district until its decline in the 1960s when the center of business gradually shifted to Makati.
The first known reference to "La Escolta", can be heard on the zarzuela "El pay-pay de Manila" Al volver de la Escolta Charito tras comprarse un precioso paipay, y una carta encontró de Pepito en su rocabay, ¡Ay, que se le cai! Y en la carta le hablaba de amor ¡Ay Jesús, qué calor, qué calor!