A former quartermaster of the Spanish army named Jose Damaso Gorricho, married Ciriaca Santos. Ciriaca’s fortunate marriage paved the way for her to start a business by supplying “zacate” hay for the many horses of the Spanish cavalry in Intramuros. As Doña Ciriaca Santos de Gorricho’s business flourished, she purchased land across the Pasig River from Intramuros where she could grow “zacate” hay. Years later, through urban development, that piece of land eventually became known as Escolta.
Escolta, established at 1594, is one of Manila’s famous streets, and could also be the oldest. It only spans at a length less than a kilometer. Escolta is known for its concentration of immigrant merchants, who came to make their fortune during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade. The street was filled with boutiques and shops peddling imported goods from China, Europe and elsewhere in Latin America that were shipped through the nearby port of San Nicolas.
It was during the period of the American colonization of the Philippines wherein the history of Escolta started to get interesting. During this period, Americans influenced the modernized look of the city. With the arrival of multiple investors, American companies clearly controlled the economy, with most of them establishing their headquarters around Escolta as the center of business activity
The arrival of the American troops after the Spanish-American war has ended, transformed Escolta to a noisy place filled with saloons and wild people. Governor Taft soon changed all this when he banned all saloons from Escolta, rehabilitating the area to become a respectable shopping thoroughfare once again.