1938 Army-Navy Y.M.C.A. Map of Manila, Philippines

Complimentary Map of the City of Manila Prepared under the Direction of the Engineer. Phil. Dept. U.S. Army 1935. Corrected to 1938. - Main View

1938 Army-Navy Y.M.C.A. Map of Manila, Philippines


Manila on the eve of World War II.


Complimentary Map of the City of Manila Prepared under the Direction of the Engineer. Phil. Dept. U.S. Army 1935. Corrected to 1938.
  1938 (dated)     14.5 x 17.5 in (36.83 x 44.45 cm)     1 : 18900


A detailed 1938 city plan or map of Manila in the Philippines from the Commonwealth period issued by the Manila Branch of the Army-Navy Y.M.C.A. It reflects the city's complex identity and history, strongly influenced by Spanish and then American colonial presence.
A Closer Look
An alphanumeric grid surrounds the map, corresponding to lists of principal points of interest and main roads at top and bottom-right. A more complete index of streets appears on the verso. Numbers refer to U.S. Army bases and other facilities ('reservations') listed at bottom-left, while red markers indicate the location of Y.M.C.A.s, including the main Army-Navy Y.M.C.A. in Intramuros, the city's historic center. City districts, such as Binondo, the 'world's oldest Chinatown,' and major public institutions, such as the distinctive Bilibid Prison complex (now the Manila City Jail), are indicated. Red text surrounds the map, advertising the goods of the Hamilton-Brown Shoe Store and Haberdashery.

The verso includes a complete map of the Philippines, marking out Army-Navy Y.M.C.A. locations (often on military bases), along with basic information about the islands and a table of distances. As a whole, the map demonstrates the heavy presence of U.S. military personnel in the Philippines at the time, in part a legacy of U.S. colonialism, but more so a reaction to concerns about Japan's growing military threat to the islands, a threat which became apparent when Japan invaded only three years later. In February-March 1945, Manila was subjected to widespread destruction and devastation as Japanese troops desperately tried to hold back American and Filipino forces.
The Burnham Plan for Manila
Parts of Manila as seen here reflect the designs of Thomas Burnham, better known for his grand urban plans of cities in the continental U.S. (including his mostly unrealized plan for San Francisco). In 1904, Burnham developed a plan for the city on a commission from Governor-General William Howard Taft after spending only six weeks in the Philippines (he also designed the 'summer capital' of Baguio). Typical of his Beaux-Arts style, Burnham emphasized grand government buildings, wide boulevards, and public sanitation. The majority of Burnham's vision was not enacted, but elements were constructed, especially in Ermita District, including Burnham Green, just above the title.
The Philippines Move Toward Independence
This map was produced soon after the Philippines transitioned from a quasi-colonial government with an appointed American Governor to a relatively autonomous Commonwealth under Filipino elites. Although society was highly unequal, President Manuel L. Quezon (1878 - 1944) aimed to address inequalities with a range of policies, from land reform to infrastructure development and government involvement in industry. These measures were both popular and effective, spurring the Philippine GDP to grow steadily despite a weak global economy. Nonetheless, the Second World War sidelined many of Quezon's projects and the man himself died in exile before the war ended.
Publication History and Census
This map was published by the Army-Navy Y.M.C.A. in 1938, amended from a 1935 map produced by the U.S. Army. The only known example of this map in institutional collections is in the Richard Adlard collection at the Smithsonian Institution.


Very good. Slight toning on left side of map, small area of discoloration in right margin. Creasing along fold lines and uneven toning on verso.