Escolta Street, Manila


Manila, P.I.
On back:
MANILA, PHILIPINE ISLANDS
Escolta is the main street of Binondo, or new Manila, and is a well-paved thoroughfare, lighted by electricity. Large dry goods and other retail stores line its sides and throngs of pedestrians, market women, carts and carriages, add to its picturesqueness.
Postmarked 1909

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 tranvia 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.
Wikipedia.

Welcome to Calle de la Escolta—definitely the main haunt of the fashionable set in the early 20th century. Weekends have become much more exciting with many new establishments embellishing the avenue. Trendy business and shopping spots are opening here and there, thanks to American investors setting up shop. . . . The Salon de Pertierra, established by the Spaniard it was named after, was the first cinema in the Philippines, and brought Manileños their first silent foreign films. It would later be overshadowed by more modern movie theaters such as the Capitol and Lyric Theaters in the mid-30s. Save for the calesas on almost every street corner and a few buildings showcasing the original architecture retained from the Spanish period, it would have been easy to forget Escolta was in the Philippines. The heavily Westernized strip took a page from the streets of modernized America. The horse-drawn tranvia resembled the tourist trams of San Francisco, while the signage could easily be likened to the lit-up letters on New York’s Broadway.
Esquire: The Glory Days of Escolta, Manila’s ‘Queen of the Streets

Escolta Street in Binondo, Manila has a long history of being the business and cultural hub of the Philippines. It started all the way back from the late 16th century as it became the concentration of immigrant merchants, mainly from Fujian, China during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade. Eventually, Binondo, especially the Calle Escolta, its main thoroughfare, evolved into a “melting pot” of people and cultures, where Chinese apothecaries stood alongside British and German drugstores, and also where Hispanic-led companies founded their headquarters there in the 1800’s. It flourished through the centuries from its birth and became the country’s premier central business, art, entertainment and lifestyle district at the turn of the 20th century up to the 1960’s
Escolta

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