Constructed in the 1960s, the Lagusnilad pedestrian underpass runs across the busy Taft Avenue road, connecting the Manila City Hall and the historic Intramuros area. It was once known as a murky hotspot for petty crimes, until a recent refurbishment gave it new life.
The renovation work was initiated in 2019 by Mayor Isko Moreno, who aimed to rid the underpass of its bad reputation. The new Lagusnilad is decorated with a vibrant, 82-foot-long mural titled “Masigasig na Maynila,” celebrating the city’s history and depicting its numerous heroes, from the famed revolutionary José Rizal to the essential workers who fought on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the refurbishment, the Lagusnilad was swarming with illegal merchants’ stalls, including a thrift bookstore that had become quite popular over the years since its establishment in 2010. The vendors were all evicted before the renovation work started, but the bookstore was allowed to stay and is now doing business beside the mural and is known as Books from Underground.
The redesign also included several new safety cautions requested by the locals, such as non-slip tiles for rainy seasons, 24-hour lighting, and CCTV security system. Thanks to these measures, the renovated underpass no longer has the unsafe atmosphere that used to haunt it.
The city is currently planning to install more pieces of public art in the future, including a bas relief similar to the mural and an interactive display showing information about Manila’s tourist attractions and public transport.
Know Before You Go
Books from Underground is open every day from 3 pm to 9 pm. The name “Lagusnilad” also refers to the vehicular underpass nearby, which is said to be one of the oldest of its kind in Asia.