The navigable Pasig River flows through the city, dividing it into two sections, with Intramuros (the old Spanish walled city) and Ermita (the site of most government buildings and tourist hotels) on the south bank, and the "newer" section (which includes the commercial district, many congested slum areas, and the Chinese quarter in Binondo) on the northern bank. Malacañang Palace, the presidential mansion, is on the Pasig.
Manila is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Asia. It has many daily newspapers and periodicals, radio and television stations, a symphony orchestra, and more than 20 universities and colleges. These include the Univ. of Santo Tomás (1611), which during World War II served as an internment camp for thousands of American, British, and Dutch civilian prisoners; the Ateneo de Manila (1859); the Univ. of Manila; the Univ. of the East; and Manila Central Univ. The oval-shaped Luneta, the country's national park on Manila Bay, contains a monument to José Rizal, who was executed by a Spanish firing squad there.
A fortified walled colony was established on the Pasig in 1571 by López de Legaspi and developed mainly by Spanish missionaries. Except for two years (1762-64) when the city was in British hands, it remained under Spanish control until the Spanish-American War (1898), when it was seized by U.S. forces three months after the battle of Manila Bay. Filipino uprisings occurred for several years, and not until 1901 was a civil government definitely established. In World War II the city was occupied by the Japanese (Jan. 2, 1942). Its recovery (Feb., 1945) involved fierce house-to-house fighting, which reduced the old walled city to rubble, destroying many fine examples of 17th-century Spanish architecture. Only the Church of San Agustin (1606) survived. Reconstruction of the Manila Cathedral began in 1958. Quezon City replaced the city as the national capital in 1948, but Manila was restored as the capital in 1976. In 1968, Manila was shaken by a severe earthquake, which killed over 300 people and caused extensive property damage. In 1972 the city was damaged by floodwaters resulting from more than three weeks of torrential rains.