A historical province known as Manila encompassed territories once held by various pre-Hispanic polities. This included the well-known Pasig River delta settlements of Maynila and Tondo, but smaller settlements such as those at Tambobong, Taguig, Pateros, and the fortified polity of Cainta. It became the capital of the colonial Philippines, with Manila (Intramuros) serving as the center of colonial power. In 1898, it included the City of Manila and 23 other municipalities. Mariquina also served as the capital from 1898–1899, just as when the sovereignty of the Philippines was transferred to the United States. The province was dissolved and most of it was incorporated to the newly created province of Rizal in 1901.
Since the Spanish colonial period, Manila was considered as one of the original global cities. The Manila galleon was the first known commercially traveled trade route that sailed the Pacific for 250 years, bringing to Spain their cargoes of luxury goods, economic benefits, and cultural exchange.
During the American period, at the time of the Philippine Commonwealth, American architect and urban designer Daniel Burnham was commissioned to create the grand Plan of Manila to be approved by the Philippine Government. The creation of Manila in 1901 is composed of the places and parishes of Binondo, Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Manila, Pandacan, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Andrés Bukid, San Fernando de Dilao, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Santa Ana de Sapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Mesa and Tondo. Meanwhile, the towns and parishes of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Mariquina, Pasig, Parañaque, Malabon, Navotas, San Juan del Monte, San Pedro de Macati, San Felipe Neri, Muntinlupa and the Taguig-Pateros area were incorporated into the province of Rizal. Pasig serves as its provincial capital.
In 1939, President Quezon established Quezon City with a goal to replace Manila as the capital city of the country. A masterplan for Quezon City was completed. The establishment of Quezon City meant the demise of the grand Burnham Plan of Manila, with funds being diverted for the establishment of the new capital. World War II further resulted in the loss most of the developments in the Burnham Plan, but more importantly, the loss of more than 100,000 lives at the Battle of Manila in 1945. Later on, Quezon City was eventually declared as the national capital on 1948. The tile was re-designated back to Manila in 1976 through Presidential Decree No. 940 owing to its historical significance as the almost uninterrupted seat of government of the Philippines since the Spanish colonial period. Presidential Decree No. 940 states that Manila has always been to the Filipino people and in the eyes of the world, the premier city of the Philippines being the center of trade, commerce, education and culture.
During the war, President Manuel L. Quezon created the City of Greater Manila as an emergency measure, merging the cities of Manila and Quezon City, along with the municipalities of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Mariquina, Pasig, Parañaque, Malabon, Navotas, San Juan del Monte, San Pedro de Macati, San Felipe Neri, Muntinlupa and the Taguig-Pateros area. Jorge Vargas was appointed as its mayor. Mayors in the cities and municipalities included in the City of Greater Manila served as vice mayors in their town. This was in order to ensure Vargas, who was Quezon's principal lieutenant for administrative matters, would have a position of authority recognized under international military law. The City of Greater Manila was abolished by the Japanese with the formation of the Philippine Executive Commission to govern the occupied regions of the country. The City of Greater Manila served as a model for the present-day Metro Manila and the administrative functions of the Governor of Metro Manila that was established during the Marcos administration.
On November 7, 1975, Metro Manila was formally established through Presidential Decree No. 824. The Metropolitan Manila Commission was also created to manage the region. On June 2, 1978, through Presidential Decree No. 1396, the metropolitan area was declared the National Capital Region of the Philippines. When Metro Manila was established, there were four cities, Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Pasay and the thirteen municipalities of Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela and Pateros. At present, all of these municipalities except for one have become an independent charted city, only Pateros remains as a municipality.
The flood brought by Typhoon Ketsana
(Tropical Storm Ondoy) in 2009 caused 484 deaths in Metro Manila alone.
President Ferdinand Marcos appointed his wife, First Lady Imelda Marcos as the first governor of Metro Manila. She launched the City of Man campaign. The Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, Metropolitan Folk Arts Theater, Philippine International Convention Center, Coconut Palace and healthcare facilities such as the Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Heart Center, and the Kidney Center of the Philippines are all constructed precisely for this purpose. President Marcos was overthrown in a non-violent revolution along EDSA, which lasted three days in late February 1986. The popular uprising, now known as the People Power Revolution, made international headlines as "the revolution that surprised the world".
In 1986, President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. 392, reorganizing and changing the structure of the Metropolitan Manila Commission and renamed it to the Metropolitan Manila Authority. Mayors in the metropolis chose from among themselves the chair of the agency. Later on, it was again reorganized in 1995 through Republic Act 7924, creating the present-day Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. The chairperson of the agency will be appointed by the President and should not have a concurrent elected position such as mayor. Former Laguna province governor Joey Lina was the last to serve as the Officer-In-Charge governor of Metro Manila.
By late 2014, then-MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino proposed that San Pedro, Laguna be included in Metro Manila as its 18th member city.