Saturday, October 13, 2012

78. Philippine TRAMVIAS (Street Cable Cars) in Postcards. Pinoy’s first modern transportation

The glory days of the TRAMVIAS were featured in these postcards during the turn-of-the-century.

In 1881, the street car was introduced in the Philippines: Its blueprint was ready as early as 1878 by Leon Monssour. However, the plans remained as plans because there was as yet no financier.

In 1881, Jacobo Zobel de Zangroniz accepted the government offer to construct and operate the streetcar system under a contract for 60 years. Campania de 1os Tranvias de Filipinas was founded to manage the concession.

Over 1,200,000 pesetas went into the construction of the line. Experts were hired from abroad to supervise the installation of the tracks. To speed up the completion of the terminals in Intramuros, Binondo, Tondo, Malabon, and Sampaloc, Chinese laborers were hired to help the native workers .

The public was enthused. Although the tranvias had seats for 12 and room for eight strap-hangers, it was normal for a car to have a total of 30 passengers. An American visitor once wrote: "It is no uncommon thing on a slight rise or sharp turn for all hands to get off and help the vehicle over the difficulty."

Source: Ayala Museum Diorama Book

1908 postcard featuring the tranvia or tramvia (electric street tram) that used to ply the streets of Manila.  It was operated by the Manila Electric Railroad and Light Company (the same Meralco we know today.) The tranvia operated until just before World War 2 (WWII) broke.

Postcard dated 1923 showing the tramvia at Escolta.

Tramvia plying near Manila & Dagupan Rail Road Station in Tutuban, Manila

Tramvias plying the streets of Plaza de Goiti, Manila

Arial view of Manila showing the tramvias at the middle of the street. Circa 1920's

Tramvias and cartelas were the favorite mode of transportation in the streets of Manila

Same postcard view on top but different artist's rendition

Tramvia at the streets of Manila

Tramvias at Escolta, Manila

Escolta St., Pasay Estate Agent Office at the left side

Tramvias regularly ply the streets of Escolta

Bagumbayan road from Lawton Square to Luneta Promenade, Manila

Rosario St., CLARKE'S Soda Fountain and Store at the right side

Escolta St., Singer Sewing Machine Store at the left side

Calle S. Sebastian,  Steel church of San Sebastian on background

Vintage MERALCO tramvia token


  1. Thank you for this wonderful time travel to the old Philippines!

    1. Thanks Dennis it is always a pleasure to share these old postcards of the Philippines