Manila City Hall
The Manila City Hall as seen from Padre Burgos Avenue
Map
General information
StatusCompleted
TypeCity Government building
Architectural styleNeoclassical
LocationNo. 333 Antonio J. Villegas Street corner Padre Burgos Avenue & Natividad Lopez Street, Ermita, Manila, Philippines
Coordinates14°35′23″N 120°58′54″E / 14.589793°N 120.981617°E / 14.589793; 120.981617
Construction started1939
CompletedAugust 19, 1941
Opening1941
OwnerCity of Manila
ManagementCity of Manila
Technical details
Floor count5
Lifts/elevators4
Design and construction
Architect(s)Antonio M. Toledo
DeveloperCity of Manila
Other information
Public transit accessMetro interchange Central Terminal
Bus interchange  6  Manila City Hall
Bus interchange  6   17   39  Lawton
Ferry transport Lawton
References
[1]

The Manila City Hall (Filipino: Bulwagan ng Lungsod ng Maynila) is the official seat of government of the City of Manila, located in the historic center of Ermita, Manila. It is where the Mayor of Manila holds office and the chambers of the Manila City Council is located.[2] It was originally intended to be a part of a national government center envisioned by Daniel Burnham in the 1900s. Although the dream plan was not fully implemented, some buildings for the proposed government center were constructed, including the Old Legislative Building (now the National Museum of Fine Arts), and the Agriculture and Finance Buildings (presently the National Museum of Anthropology and National Museum of Natural History).

History

Manila City Hall (2006)
The City Hall's South Entrance and the Arsenio H. Lacson Monument
City Hall from the air

The Manila City Hall during 1901 was made up of Oregon-pine which covered one third of the area used by the current building. After 31 years of occupancy, City Engineer Santiago Artiaga suggested to reinforce the floor of the weakened structure supporting the session hall used by the municipal board and avoid the accommodation of too many people along the corridors and in the hallway.[2] Eventually, the old city hall was demolished.

In the 1930s, a new City Hall was constructed, which had uniform windows on all sides. This was designed by Antonio Toledo, the same architect who built the Finance and Old Legislative Buildings which were both adjacent to the new City Hall. Finished in 1941 right before World War II, it was another of the structural casualties of the War, heavily damaged (but still intact) by bombardment during the Battle and subsequent Liberation of Manila in February 1945. With the aid of the United States Army, Philippine Commonwealth Army and the city government, City Hall was reconstructed, though did not follow the original plans. Among the deviations were an added fifth-floor attic from the south entrance until the location of the east–west side entrances to accommodate additional offices,[2] and additional windows in some areas which were formerly shelling damages.

The National Museum of the Philippines declared the Manila City Hall as an Important Cultural Property on June 27, 2019. A marker for the declaration by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines was unveiled on September 18, 2023 at the Manila City Hall grounds.[3]

Architecture

Antonio Toledo was the architect responsible for the design of the current Manila City Hall which exhibits a Neoclassical style. Juan Arellano's design, which had an Art Deco style, was supposed to be used for the city hall but Arellano quit the project and was replaced by Toledo.[4] Shortly after its construction, the city hall had a floor area of 8,422 square meters (90,650 sq ft) and had around 200 rooms.[2]

The building sits on a trapezoidal shape of the lot in between the Legislative and Post Office buildings. Due to the monotony of the building envelope, one cannot distinguish the principal facade from the main entrance properly. The south entrance has a balcony emphasized by three arches resting on Corinthian columns while the north rear has the same design treatment with the east and west sides, but has pediments all throughout and a tall, octagonal clock tower capped by a dome.[5]

Clock Tower

Manila City Hall Clock Tower
Manila City Hall at night

The clock tower, also designed by Antonio Toledo which was completed during the 1930s is the largest clock tower in the Philippines, reaching close to 100 feet (30 m) in elevation.[6] It stands out during nighttime when the whole of the tower lights up. Every hour, they rung the bell three times continued by a melody. It has now become the icon for the city of Manila.

Renovation of the clock tower was first proposed by 6th district Councilor Lou Veloso in 1996.[7] Renovation only started years later, during the time of Mayor Lito Atienza. The second time was after Joseph Estrada won in 2013. He had the clocks upgraded and digitalized so that it will always be synchronized with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) for Philippine Standard Time. Under the Estrada administration, there were plans to establish a coffee shop in the clock tower and the first two floors of the tower had been turned into spacious halls.[8] It was also adorned with LED lights that shifted colors. These were changed into stationary white light after Isko Moreno took over as Mayor in 2019.

In mid-2020, the portions of the clock tower in red, including the faces of its three clocks, were painted gold.[9][10] Formerly a storage room, the interior was renovated to contain an art gallery, coffee shop, and a museum featuring an exhibit of historical events. It was opened to the public on December 27, 2021.[11] It later became known as the Manila Clock Tower Museum and was formally inaugurated and declared as a prime tourist spot in June 2022.[12][13]

Proposal for a new city hall

In 2015, WTA Architecture + Design Studio envisions the Manila Arts and Cultural District centered around the Manila Metropolitan Theater, which was preparing to undertake its restoration works at that time. The proposed civic center calls for a New Manila City Hall, repurposing of the Park and Ride Building, a Central Park, an extension of the Manila City Library and the construction of a New Parking Building. Parts of the Old City Hall will be converted into a lifestyle mall with cafes and restaurants at the inner courtyard, while public transaction services will be moved to the ground floor.[14][15]

During the campaign period for the 2019 local elections, mayoral candidate Isko Moreno promised to build a new City Hall beside the current City Hall should he win the mayoralty race.[16][17] He pointed out that the current City Hall cannot accommodate anymore additional office space or traffic. In his proposal, the current City Hall will be maintained but will be converted to other uses.[16] After winning the election, Moreno joined President Rodrigo Duterte’s delegation for four days in Tokyo, Japan for prospective investors in order to boost his 10-year Infrastructure Plan for Manila which includes the construction of the New City Hall, among others.[18]

References

  1. ^ "Historical Landmarks". City of Manila. Archived from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d de la Torre, Visitacion (1981). Landmarks of Manila: 1571-1930. Makati: Filipinas Foundation, Inc. pp. 19–20.
  3. ^ https://www.philstar.com/nation/2023/09/19/2297363/marker-unveiled-declaring-manila-city-hall-important-cultural-property
  4. ^ "Paranormal expert Ed Caluag investigates Manila City Hall's strange occurrences". GMA News. October 28, 2018. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  5. ^ Lico, Gerard (2008). Arkitekturang Filipino: A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the Philippines. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press. p. 291. ISBN 978-971-542-579-7.
  6. ^ "Historical Landmarks: Manila City Hall". Manila.gov.ph. Archived from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
  7. ^ "Councilor Lou Veloso's vision to restore clock tower came to life under Mayor Isko Moreno's leadership". Metropoler. January 7, 2022. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  8. ^ See, Aie Balagtas (February 18, 2018). "Pinoy time may be acceptable to some but not at Manila City Hall tower". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  9. ^ Tiangco, Minka Klaudia (July 15, 2020). "Manila Clock Tower painted gold". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  10. ^ "Manila refurbishes City Hall clock tower". The Philippine Star. July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  11. ^ Domingo, Katrina (December 27, 2021). "Manila set to open City Hall Clock Tower as 'Instagrammable' museum, coffee shop: mayor". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved February 26, 2022.
  12. ^ Baroña, Franco Jose (July 2, 2022). "Manila Clock Tower declared prime tourist spot". The Manila Times. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  13. ^ Cusipag, Jhon Dave (July 2, 2022). "Calling all museum lovers: Manila's iconic clock tower is now the capital's newest tourist attraction". l!fe · The Philippine Star. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  14. ^ "Architecture firm envisions cultural district centered on the Met". Inquirer.net. October 31, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  15. ^ "Sulong Maynila: The Manila Arts and Cultural District". WTA Architecture + Design Studio. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Vergara, Robert (March 26, 2019). "Mayoral bet Isko Moreno wants a new Manila city hall". CNN Philippines. Archived from the original on June 27, 2019. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  17. ^ Edera, Erma (March 30, 2019). "Moreno to build a new city hall should he win in Manila". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  18. ^ "Moreno eyes Japanese investors for 10-year Manila infrastructure plan". Manila Standard. June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 27, 2019.