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In 1872 Jacobo Zobel y Zangroniz, patriarch of the Zobel de Ayala clan, contributed to the construction of a wooden bridge connecting the San Miguel and Concepción districts of Manila across the Pasig River through Isla de la Covalecencia, the only eyot or small island in the river. The bridge was built in two independent wooden sections converging on the western tip of the island: one from the district of San Miguel in the northern bank near General Solano street and the other from the Concepción district in the southern bank near the northern end of Marques de Comillas street.

The two sections were of very similar construction: three low truss arches supporting a lower road deck laid on wooden piers as wooden also were the arches and deck. At left is a technical plan for the construction of the Concepcion section published in 1876 in a collection of public works projects. Notable is the detail of a section of the road leading from Isla de Convalecencia to the bridge, upper right of drawing. An 1875 street map of Manila (partial reproduction at right) shows the bridge location though by the time it was drawn the bridge may still have been under construction as three fourths of its drawing was rendered in dotted lines.

The bridge was inaugurated in 1880 but did not last long for in 1889 the Concepción section collapsed followed by the San Miguel section collapse a few months later.

The Ayala group intervened again to replace the ruined structures with a steel bridge in 1890 (photos left and right,) a simple affair that came to be known as the "crooked bridge" because its two sections joined over the tip of the island at an angle like its predecessor.

The bridge was improved with a more solid two-arc truss steel structure in 1908 (below, left) that lasted until its destruction in World War II (below, center.) It was rebuilt after the war with an expanded deck in the form it has today (below, right.)