Manila (1904)

As is the case in nearly all imperial projects, mapping was integral to American imperialism in the Philippines. For his plans, Burnham drew upon a large number of maps and surveys created by the US War Department. This city map of Manila, an inset in a large military map of the entire Philippine archipelago, provides a fine overview of the topography of the capital and its environs at the time Burnham was there. In addition to noting features of the built environment such as civic and religious buildings, streets, and streetcar lines, it identifies areas of brush and bamboo, grassy fields, rice and other cultivated fields, and swamplands. Lastly, the map documents existing structures such as civic and religious buildings, the Government Palace located further inland along the Pásig River, and the original Spanish-designed Luneta Park just south of the old fortified core of the city, the Intramuros.

Upon arriving in the Philippines, Burnham found a city that could serve American ambitions in the eastern hemisphere. The Escolta, Manila’s primary commercial district, had already developed a uniquely dynamic and hybrid character under Spanish rule. The city as a whole, however, would remain surrounded by largely undeveloped countryside. Burnham’s plan would provide for the future development of a national capital and international business nexus, with additional attention to park-like spaces, all intended to create a new “Pearl of the Orient.”  He would lay a similar emphasis on shaping an environment conducive to private economic development and governmental oversight, combined with cultural and recreational amenities, in the Plan of Chicago.



Barrows, David. A History of the Philippines. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company 1907.

Burnham, Daniel H. “Report on Proposed Improvements at Manila” and “Report on the Proposed Plan of the City of Baguio, Province of Benguet, P.I.,” as reprinted in Charles Moore, Daniel H. Burnham: Architect, Planner of Cities, vol. 2. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1921.

Forbes, W. Cameron. The Philippine Islands, 2 vols. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1928.

Parsons, William E. "Burnham as a Pioneer in City Planning." The Architectural Record 38 (July 1915).

U.S. Adjutant-General's Office, “Manila,” inset on Map of the Philippine Islands compiled from the latest official data in the Second (Military Information) Division, Office of the Chief of Staff, War Department (1904). The Newberry Library, Ayer 133 .U52 1904, no. 2