Blast From the Past: How Manila roads looked before
Remember the times when streets were free of traffic?

We enjoyed the nostalgia we got from looking at the vintage vehicles that drove around Manila back in the day, we decided to dive back into the past and share photos of Philippine roads back when they were spacious and walkable.

If you thought the highways and streets could never be free of traffic (we’re looking at you Commonwealth Ave.), then prepare for another trip down memory lane for more flashes of a time way back when.

Quezon Boulevard (1978)

This is one of the earliest photos we could find. If this road doesn’t look familiar, this is Quezon Boulevard in Quiapo, Manila (near Quiapo Church). The Recto underpass leads straight to Sampaloc, while turning right will lead you to Morayta and España Boulevard.

Today this area of Quiapo is packed with vendors and stalls selling vegetables, motorcycle helmets, and religious figurines; not to mention the immense traffic caused by cars and motorcycles parked by Quiapo Church (especially during the Feast of the Nazareno), and commuters waiting to catch a ride towards Quezon City.

Cubao (est. 1980s)

Can you believe that this is a photo of Cubao during the ’80s? The long stretch of road is Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, more commonly known as EDSA, and you can vaguely just see where it intersects with Aurora Boulevard.

What probably makes it so unfamiliar is the lack of the Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT) that runs along EDSA, and the Manila Light Rail Transit (LRT) 2 that runs from Rizal to Manila; and of course the absence of all the cars, buses, and motorcycles that usually packs EDSA. We bet driving along on this EDSA would be a swift cruise.

Taft Avenue (est. early 1980s)

Again, with the lack of the LRT – though this time Line 1, from Quezon City to Baclaran, Pasay – you wouldn’t have guessed that this is actually Taft Avenue, where many hospitals and universities can be found today such as Santa Isabel College (which you can make out on the right); Santa Isabel is one of the oldest colleges in Asia having been in operation since 1632.

The tree-filled area on the left is Luneta Park, where today you could find a giant statue of Lapu-Lapu in the middle of Agrifina Circle (the Rizal monument is on the other side of the park, by Roxas Boulevard). Just beyond the trees you can make out the rooftop of the National Museum of Anthropology, which still stands today and is open to the public.

North Luzon Expressway (est. 1970s)

At the time of its construction, the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) was the first expressway of its kind in Southeast Asia, one of the many projects started by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. It looked so plain and simple back then, but imagine how fun road trips would be if it was this spacious!

If only we could pop into a DeLorean like in Back to the Future, and drive at 88 mph through these wide and clean streets, just to relive the good old days. We hope these photos filled your mind with nostalgia once more, stay tuned for what other photos we’ll dig up!

All photos from the Philippine History and Architecture Facebook page.

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