Sunday, May 12, 2013

Manila City Hall

The Manila City Hall at night. © Panoramio/jsantiago

Civic and government edifices built during the American occupation would always stand out, as it reminds us of the importance of these institutions. The Manila City Hall is one of the key government buildings constructed in American Manila. 

The Manila City Hall during the Japanese occupation, circa 1942. Photo taken from the walled city of Intramuros. © Flickr/Beyond Forgetting

The Manila City Hall during its construction stage, taken from the Legislative Building along P. Burgos Drive. © Manila Nostalgia/Ingrid Donahue via Lou Gopal

The Manila City Hall was designed by architect Antonio Toledo and was built in 1939. The city hall is adorned by a hexagonal tower with three clocks on three of its facets. After its completion, the building received negative reviews for its lack of aesthetics, lack of entrances and how the clock tower was placed.

The elevation plan for the Manila City Hall's iconic clocktower© Arkitekturang Filipino

The City Hall's courtyard during the Japanese occupation, circa 1942. © LIFE via Arkitekturang Filipino

Sadly, the City Hall was not spared from the ravages of war. During the Battle of Manila, the city hall was heavily damaged from shelling. 

The shelled city hall viewed from Burgos Drive. ©

The city hall after the Battle of Manila in 1945. © Flickr/ Beyond Forgetting

Manila City Hall's tower bombed out by artillery shells during the dying days of the war in the capital. © Tumblr/MLQ3 

After the war, the city hall was rebuilt through the War Reparations program of the United States and was criticized due to the shape of its floor plan which looked like a coffin or a shield of the Knights Templar. According to urban legends, it was made to look like a coffin to pay homage to those who died during the Battle of Manila.

The city hall's clocktower as viewed from the courtyard. © L' Heure Bleue

The courtyard. © Senor Enrique

One of the city hall's balconies facing the National Museum and Taft Avenue. © The Hippie Mum

Manila's iconic clock tower in the present time. © Wikimedia Commons


  1. The structure is just fine. It needs to rid itself, though, of the air-conditioning units installed along its halls which I think violates the Building Code. What is very disturbing is the fact no one seems to be bothered by the illegal vendors which surrounds it. These vendors and their structures had gone so far as to occupy the street near the Indah Hotel.

  2. What are the dimensions of the clock tower?

  3. Greetings!

    I am an Editorial Assistant of Vibal Foundation. We would like to seek permission and request a high resolution copy of the image from your Manila City Hall post, dated 12 May 2013 which has the caption, The elevation plan for the Manila City Hall's iconic clocktower. The image will be used in our latest academic imprint titled, Arts of the Philippines: From Prehistory to Now, which is set to be launched in November 2018. If you could also provide us your name and email address so we can send you a formal letter. Rest assured that we will give proper credit for the image. Thank you very much and hoping for your response.


    Shiloah Torrechiva

  4. What is the materials they used by building it?

  5. Hello Paulo Rubio,


    I am an OFW from Dubai and we recently visit The Manila City Hall. I would like to seek your permission to use your contents/couple of your photos for my youtube vlog (small youtuber). I'll include your link in my channel as of my references/credits. Thank you so much this will be a great help.

    My youtube channel:

    All the best!

    Noel De Juan

  6. May i know the amount used in building the city hall? It's required in my requirements po kasi and i can't seem to find anything on the internet :)