On our just completed trip Ruth and I went as far east as Manhattan, KS. We wanted to see The Flint Hills Discovery Center. We both liked it very much despite the fact that the ranger at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Emporia snidely called it, “Hollywood.” She admitted that she had not visited it yet but felt comfortable passing judgment on it from her preserve in southern Kansas close to Wichita, which we visited for the first time in our travels. The Discovery Center was rather Hollywood, but in a good way in my opinion. What really surprised us about Manhattan was the vast number of buildings made from Flint Hill limestone.
I decided today that it was time to revisit towns named Manhattan despite the fact that I blogged that subject last April under the title “Manhattan”. I promise not to repeat. There are actually 9 towns named Manhattan in the United States. Being a purely American concept, it is little wonder that this name, which derives from Native Americans, has not travelled abroad. All of the Manhattans are in this country. The proposed city of Manhattan in Florida, however, never realized because Manatee River Park Estate was never developed near Tampa due to the hurricane threat.
The largest Manhattan is, of course, the New York borough which had 1.63 million residents before COVID. The other four boroughs, like Brooklyn, didn’t begin to develop until the late 19th century when immigration thrived. Brooklyn was incorporated in 1898, but Manhattan remains the largest of New York City’s 5 boroughs.
The 2nd largest Manhattan in the United States is the city in Kansas that we just visited. It has more than 54,000 residents now and a great attraction about the Flint Hills that is increasingly popular. The Flint Hills extend from northern Kansas to northern Oklahoma. They include Manhattan, Kansas, but the sea of grass that once extended from Canada to Texas has been mostly diminished. Only about 4% of the tall grass that once existed on the prairie that waved west to the Rocky Mountains remains. The best place to experience the Flint Hills and this large expanse of prairie is just south of Manhattan.
The other Manhattans in the United States are mostly very small towns. There are Manhattans in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Mississippi. The Nevada Manhattan is a town of only 124 people about 50 miles north of Tonopah. There is a Manhattan Beach in the Los Angeles area. This community has about 35,000 residents, making it the 3rd largest town named Manhattan. There is a fairly large Manhattan in Illinois near Joliet. Like Manhattan Beach, it has little for the visitor. At least Manhattan Beach, CA has beaches to visit.
Other than the fine Discovery Center, we found little to do in Manhattan, KS. The 2 other attractions we wanted to see were both closed. The reportedly excellent Marianna Kistler Beach Museum on the campus of Kansas State University was closed until the end of August, 2021 with no explanation given. The Insect Zoo, also on this campus, was also closed. We were told that it would not reopen until school resumed for 2021-22. I really want to see this bug zoo.