Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Beautiful and Forsaken: The Jones Bridge

The Jones Bridge was often photographed alongside the Bureau of Posts, Telegraphs and Public Works (Post Office Bldg.) and the Metropolitan Theater. All three structures are masterpieces by Arch. Juan Arellano.
National Geographic Magazine, September 1930.

If there is one particular structure that exuded elegance and sophistication during the good old days of pre-war Manila, this bridge that crosses the Pasig River would definitely be on the top of anyone's list. 

A vintage postcard showing how picturesque this area was before the war.
Source

The William Atkinson Jones Memorial Bridge or more commonly known as the Jones Bridge is a bridge that connects the Binondo district on Calle Rosario (Q. Paredes St.) with Calle Padre Burgos (Padre Burgos St.) just outside the walls of Intramuros. The bridge honored former Virginia representative, William Atkinson Jones, the principal author of the Jones Law or the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916. Learn more about the Jones Law here.  

Aerial view of the Jones Bridge, c1920s. You can still see the foundations of the Puente de Espana just a few meters upriver from the Jones.
Source

The Jones Bridge replaced the Puente de Espana (Bridge of Spain), built by the Spaniards in 1876. When the Americans took over, this bridge was still working perfectly but eventually, the bridge became weak and was damaged beyond repair. A replacement was needed as soon as possible.

Jones Bridge, c1930s.
John Tewell Photo Collection

As part of Daniel Burnham's planning and beautification of the city, Burnham's plan gave importance to the Pasig River and to the canals surrounding it. The Bureau of Public Works strongly implemented this plan led by another prominent American architect, William Parsons. Burnham took inspiration from Paris' Seine River and Venice's stunning canals. He  envisioned Manila to be a combination of both Paris and Venice.

Jones Bridge, c1930s.
John Tewell Photo Collection

As part of the Jones Law of 1916, priority was given to Filipino architects in designing new buildings for the city. Arch. Juan Arellano was the chief designer and architect of the neoclassical Jones Bridge and he surely did not disappoint. Construction of the bridge was in full swing in 1919 and was completed in 1920. It was inaugurated in 1921.  

The newly completed Jones Bridge beside the Puente de Espana, c1920s. The Puente de Espana was already being slowly demolished. That steel bridge served as a temporary bridge while the construction of the Jones was being undertaken. That is not the Puente de Espana's original design.
John Tewell Photo Collection
Most photographed angle of the Jones Bridge. This picture definitely gives off a Parisian vibe.
Source

"Arellano designed the bridge in the style of Parisian bridges of the Napoleonic and Haussman eras. The bridge had three arches resting on two heavy piers. The internal structure was of steel with the piers, cladding and ornamentation in concrete and pre-cast faux stone." (Alcazaren 2001)  

An illustration of the Jones Bridge showing the figures on the bridge's piers. 
Source
Jones Bridge
"Manila, Queen of the Pacific", 1938


"It was the ornamentation of the bridge that set it apart from the previous one. Arellano embellished the piers with a statuary of boys on dolphins, similar to the embellishments on the Pont Alexandre III in Paris (which he visited on the way home from America). The lampposts, balustrades, finials and moldings were similarly treated." (Alcazaren 2001)



The figure on top of the bridge's center arch showing its intricate details.
John Tewell Photo Collection



Out of all the many features that make up this bridge, I think the most striking parts are the four statues on both ends called La Madre Filipina (The Filipina Mother).

One of the statues of the La Madre Filipina. I believe that this particular statue is the one we see in Luneta today.
"Manila, Queen of the Pacific", 1938
La Madre Filipina
"Manila, Queen of the Pacific", 1938

"Arellano marked both ends of the Jones with statuary on immense plinths. The sculptor Martinez was commissioned to create four allegorical tableaus in cast stone. These four carried a matriarchal theme: motherhood and nationhood." (Alcazaren 2001)

View of the Jones Bridge from the Post Office Building.
Source
The La Madre Filipina greets you as you enter the bridge from Plaza Lawton.
Source
Another view showing the bridge's entrance from Plaza Lawton.
Source
A vintage postcard showing the calesas entering the bridge.
John Tewell Photo Collection
The Jones Bridge upon entering from Plaza Moraga.
Source
"Horn Tooting Prohibited", a sign in one of the bridge's pedestals, 1941.
Life Photo Archive   
View of Plaza Lawton from the bridge, 1941. 
Life Photo Archive
View of Plaza Moraga from the bridge, 1941.
Life Photo Archive

The Second World War marked the untimely destruction of the once beautiful Jones. It was bombed by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Liberation of Manila in 1945. The Jones Bridge was reconstructed with funds from the American Government under the Philippine Rehabilitation Act of 1945. The bridge still carried its original name but the original design was not applied. Functionality was chosen over aesthetics. The new design was simpler and quite banal, a far cry from Arch. Juan Arellano's vision. 

The Jones Bridge, 1945.
Life Photo Archive
A temporary Bailey bridge spanned the Pasig River, post-war Manila.
John Tewell Photo Collection

A colored photograph showing the remnants of the Post Office Bldg. and the Bailey bridge that temporarily connected the Pasig. The Metropolitan Theater can be seen on the right.
Source

Out of the four statues of the La Madre Filipina, only three survived to this day. One statue was placed near the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park. The other two statues guard the entrance of the Court of Appeals Building in Ermita, Manila. However, the fourth statue mysteriously disappeared. It was probably destroyed during the war and maybe it is now resting on the depths of the Pasig River. No one really knows...

The two La Madre Filipina statues still intact while entering from Plaza Moraga.
Source
Showing the damaged pedestal upon entering the bridge from Plaza Lawton. This is probably the fourth statue that is missing. The building in the background is the war-torn San Juan de Letran in Intramuros.
John Tewell Photo Collection

The Jones Bridge represented so many things. It symbolized the Philippines' development as an emerging nation, it showcased Filipino artistry and more notably, it represented American rule and influence on the Philippines. It was a bridge that every Filipino should be proud of.   

John Tewell Photo Collection

The fate of this bridge is uncertain. One can only dream of the complete restoration of the pre-war Jones Bridge back to its former glory. This dream is not impossible and I believe that in the future, with the right management and the proper time, this bridge will be given back its old grandeur and splendor. 

*Special thanks to Mr. Paulo Alcazaren's article "Jones Bridge Diary: The link to a romantic past" published in 2001. 

10 comments:

  1. nice pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Better if you have present photos for us to compare. Nonetheless, it's great!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very nice photos. It was good that you shared it for all to enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Notice the historic tranbias in their resplendent green and yellow crossing that wonderful bridge.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Amazing! probably the loveliest bridge we've had in the Philippines.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Both La Madre Filipina statues can be found at the entrance of the main Court of Appeals building in Ma. Orosa Street, Ermita. From the original white, they have been repainted bronze.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 2 only there , other one is in Rizal park

      Delete
  7. this web site is definitely takei http://tryonlinecasino.tumblr.com casino games online

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was the the most European-ish angle of Manila. Look at the wide river side plazas! Very stunning. It's just sad that this was not maintained to this day and the bridge was not restored and was just built to just function without any design at all. Very DPWH!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi. For everyone's info (plus the mod), the "missing" La Madre statue was hit by a shell, so that's why in the pic on the top of the (damaged) counterweight pedestal there is a rough something.
    Here is John Tewell's picture depicting the last moments of he statue: https://www.flickr.com/photos/johntewell/16454315322/

    ReplyDelete