nicknamed the “Little Apple” for a New York City borough of the same name, Manhattan is a college town because it is home to Kansas State University. The city was first founded as New Boston. However, an unusual circumstance on the Kansas River led to a request for a name change. Manhattan is a quaint community known for its quaint downtown, tap houses, vineyards, and Tuttle Creek Lake. Visitors flock here from the big cities for the quiet, with Manhattan sometimes referred to as a retirement city.
Geography and Climate of Manhattan
Manhattan is a city located in the northeastern part of the US state of Kansas. The city covers a total area of 48.67 km2, of which 0.08 km2 is covered by water and 48.59 km2 is occupied by land. Manhattan is located along the Kansas River, approximately 80 km west of Topeka. Manhattan is in a physiographic zone of the Flint Hills. This area is in north-central Kansas and was named for its abundance of flint in the soil. North of Manhattan is the body of water known as Tuttle Creek Lake. This reservoir is maintained by the army engineering corps for floods. Second, its water levels are conditioned for drought control or as water flow for barge traffic.
According to the Köppen climate classification, Manhattan experiences a humid continental climate. Thus, the city experiences four seasons, with humid summers and snowy and windy winters. Year-over-year, Manhattan receives 907 mm of precipitation over 91 days and snowfall of 17.6 inches per year. The coldest month is January, with an average low of -8.2°C and the hottest month is July, with an average high of 32.2°C.
Prior to the settlement of Manhattan, the land belonged to the Kaw Indians. Thus, the area was once a tribal habitation known as Blue River Village. Rights to the land were ceded in 1854, and the land was opened to settlers after the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The New England Emigrant Aid Company founded the future Manhattan as a combination of the area’s settlements: Polistra and Canton. Nevertheless, he was eventually named New Boston. In 1855, a steamboat carrying settlers from Ohio ran aground on the Kansas River. Passengers heading further upstream to Junction City were stranded. New Boston offered the passengers to stay, but they asked for the city’s name to be changed. As a result, the city was renamed Manhattan in June 1855. During the statehood era, Manhattan was known for its anti-slavery stance, which made it a target of pro-slavery guerrillas. As such, nearby Fort Riley served as protection and repelled escapees. In 1859, Manhattan saw an increase in traffic in the area with the discovery of gold in neighboring Colorado Territory. As the miners prepared to hike the Smoky Mountain Trail to Pikes Peak, Manhattan was the last supply town. The addition of the Union Pacific Railroad saw the population boom and further cemented Manhattan’s development as a city in Kansas.
The population and economy of Manhattan
Manhattan has a population of 53,467 and a population density of 1,000 people per km2. The median household income is $68,872 and the gross monthly rent is $910. The average age of a resident is 24.5 years old. On the cost of living index, Manhattan sits at 88.2, while Kansas State is at 83.1. However, 26.32% of the population lives below the poverty line.
The unemployment rate is 3.0%, while the US unemployment rate is 6.0%. Major industries that make up the city’s economy include educational services with 26.1% overall, retail trade with 13.3%, and food and accommodation services with 11.0% . Manhattan is a college town and Kansas State University is the premier employment area. The American Baking Institute (ABI) can be found here. Opening its doors in 1919, the ABI strives to educate food and beverage supply chains on the importance of food safety. Additionally, the facility offers courses in baking science, food engineering, and product labeling.
Attractions in Manhattan
Tuttle Creek State Park
Located on Tuttle Creek Lake, Tuttle Creek State Park is a popular three-season destination. This green space offers many activities on its 1,200 acres from spring to late fall. Activities include hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, disc golf, volleyball, swimming and archery. Tuttle Creek offers camping in the summer, allowing visitors to experience the Flint Hills on their own.
Flint Hills Discovery Center
The Flint Hills Discovery Center has 10,000 square feet of exhibit space. Its purpose is to educate children about the importance of the Flint Hills and prairies through preservation. Flint Hills Discovery Center offers facilities such as the Immersive Experience Theater and its Prairie Garden Terrace and Trail outdoor space. Notable permanent exhibits include the Underground Forest, Where the Air is Pure, and Blowing Winds in the Tall Grass, to name a few. The Discovery Center offers a rotation of temporary exhibitions and offers an assortment of family events.
Kansas State University Insect Zoo
Found in the Kansas State Garden, the Kansas State University Insect Zoo is a collection of living specimens. Interesting exhibits include an observation beehive, a tropical night cave, an Amazon tropical tree, and a flooded Amazon forest. Visitors can see a variety of tarantulas, scorpions and giant cockroaches. The goal of the zoo is to educate and raise awareness of often misunderstood and feared species.
Home to Kansas State University and the American Baking Institute, Manhattan is a quiet college town in the Flint Hills. For many, it is a place to seek solitude amongst the natural landscape with Tuttle Creek Lake, the Kansas River and tall prairie grass nearby. Whether you come here to study or retire, Manhattan is a small community that offers a quiet space for everyone.