An Overview of Burnham’s Manila Plan

After the Spanish-American war in 1898, the Philippines became American colony from 1898 to 1942. Six years after the acquisition of Manila, the US government sent Daniel Burnham to Manila for city planning. After six weeks of on-site investigation, Burnham returned to the United States with “Report on Proposed Improvements at Manila”. In the report, he proposed five major points outlined as the following:

  1. The development of the waterfront and the expansion of parks and parkways.
    (Manila Plan: Creating the Sea Boulevard)
    This includes the development of an area called the new Luneta as American government center.
    (Manila Plan: Re-envisioning the Luneta)
  2. The establishment of a street system which would secure direct and easy communication among districts of the city. On top of the gridiron street system imposes the radiating boulevards connecting the civic centers. (Manila Plan: Role of Civic Centers)
  3. The proper location for buildings of various programs.
    For example, a new hotel envisioned as a world-class resort and casino and boat clubs are placed on both ends of the new Luneta. The schools should be placed in Santa Mesa Heights in order to provide a better learning environment.
  4. The development of Pasig River as a transportation canal and river banks as shaded drives.
    (Manila Plan: Potentials of the Waterways)
  5. The development of summer resort near Laguna and Bataan.
•1905 Manila Plan © 1993 in Plan of Chicago by Burnham, Daniel H., and Bennett, Edward H.
1905 Manila Plan © 1993, Burnham, Daniel H., and Bennett, Edward H.
Dugue’s Analysis Drawing based on Burnham’s Plan © 2009, Architectural Research Quarterly, 13(3-4), pp. 261



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

Hines, T.S. (2009) Burnham of Chicago: Architect and Planner. 2nd Ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Duque, E. (2009) ‘Modern Tropical Architecture: medicalization of space in early twentieth-century Philippines’, Architectural Research Quarterly, 13(3-4), pp. 261-271

Palafox, F.A. (2014) Revisiting Daniel Burnham’s plan for Manila and Banguio (1). The Manila Times. [Online] 6th August. Available from: [Accessed: 19nd Dec 2015].

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