Manila Plan: Re-envisioning the Luneta


This air view of central Manila in the early 1920s reveals Parson's Manila Hotel (lower left), Mall and public gardens (lower right) and park surrounding the walls of the intramuros (upper center) (National Archives,Washington)
Figure 1: Air view of central Manila © 1920, National Archives, Washington

Daniel Burnham chose Luneta, located along Roxas Boulevard adjacent to the old walled city of Intramuros, as the location of the new national government center. To increase park and parkways in the city Burnham proposed that the ancient moat surrounding the intramuros are to be reclaimed to enlarge the Luneta into a 30 acre park. Hence the water was drained and filled with trees and grass which overcame the existing hygiene issues. As a planner who took consideration of the existing conditions, Burnham preserved the walls of the intramuros despite the obstructed traffic and ventilation issues. It became the center of culture and recreation to respect its historical and cultural value of a fortified medieval city.

Luneta became an urban park which consists of the major civic centers: Old Legislative Building, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Finance, the only three units which were completed before the outbreak of WWII. The famous Rizal monument is also the part of the Luneta end. Then location of the building sites for various activities were considered. On both sides of the new Luneta, boat clubs were to be placed as well as a new hotel envisioned to be a world class resort and casino, one of which is William Parson’s Manila Hotel. Figure 1 taken in the early 1920s partially reveals the surroundings of the Luneta with William Parson’s Manila Hotel on the lower left, mall and public gardens on the lower right and park surrounding the walls of the intramuros on the upper center.

Bureau Public Works Model of Philippine Capitol Manila (1914) Luneta in foreground, and Burnham Green behind (Ryerson & Burnham Archives)
Figure 2: Bureau Public Works Model of Philippine Capitol Manila © 1914, Burnham Archives
Bird Eyeview of the Central Manila in early 1920s in Burnham of Chicago: architect and planner by Thomas S. Hines.
Figure 3: Bird Eye view of the Central Manila © 1920, Architectural Record
Luneta is an urban park of the city consisting of major civic centers
Map: Luneta as an urban park of the city consisting of major civic centers



Burnham, D.H., and Bennett, E.H. (1993) Plan of Chicago. Edited by Charles Moore. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Hines, T. S. (1972) ‘The Imperial Façade: Daniel H. Burnham and American Architectural Planning in the Philippines’, Pacific Historical Review, 41(1), pp.33-53

Shatkin, G. (2005) ‘Colonial Capital, Modernist Capital, Global Capital: The Changing Political Symbolism of Urban Space in Metro Manila, the Philippines’, Pacific Affairs, 78(4), pp. 577-600.

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