Introduction to Manhattan, Kansas
Located in the scenic Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas at the junction of the Big Blue and Kansas rivers is the city of Manhattan, county seat of Riley County. Known as the "Little Apple" (in deference to its larger namesake in New York), Manhattan is situated 56 miles west of Topeka, 85 miles west of Lawrence, and 120 miles west of Kansas City. The city is notable for being the home of both Kansas State University and the Fort Riley Army Base. Also located here are Manhattan Area Technical College and Manhattan Christian College.
First settled in 1855 by settlers from the Northeast, Manhattan was incorporated in 1857, just four years prior to the State of Kansas being admitted into the Union. At that time, local citizens began a lobbying effort to try to get a state university established in the city. In 1863, these efforts came to fruition when the Kansas legislature established Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan. In later years, the name of the institution was changed to Kansas State University.
Arts and Entertainment in Manhattan
The Manhattan area boasts a number of cultural and recreational attractions. Some of the most popular are the following:
- Country Stampede Music Festival: Held in mid-June, this is the largest annual music festival in Kansas.
- Tuttle Creek State Park & Lake: Offers 15,000 acres of boating, water-skiing, fishing and hunting.
- Colbert Hills Golf Course: The nation's first PGA Collegiate course.
- The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art: Houses Kansas State’s permanent art collection, numbering approximately 1,400 works.
- Damon Runyon Birthplace: Honoring the "Inventor of Broadway", the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Riley County Fair: Held in late July, the fair includes The Kaw Valley Rodeo, where nationally-ranked bull riders and bronc-busters compete.
- Arts in the Park: A summertime event which brings the performing arts to the Larry Norvell Band Shell in City Park.
- Country Stampede: A country music festival held during the last weekend of June each year.
- Oz Museum: Located in nearby Wamego, the museum houses one of the largest private collections of Oz memorabilia in the world.
- Goodnow House: Furnished home of Isaac Goodnow, a founder of Manhattan and Kansas State University, built in 1861 and now a state historic site.
- Milford Lake: Kansa’s largest lake is a 30-minute drive west of Manhattan.
- Marianna Beach Art Museum
- Kansas State University Gardens
- Konza Prairie Research Natural Area
- Riley County Historical Museum
- American Museum of Baking
- Sunset Zoo
- Historic Fort Riley
- Blaine Thomas Musical Museum
- The Columbian Theatre Museum & Art Center (Wamego)
- McCain Auditorium & Nichols Theatre
- Wolf House Museum
- The Randolph State Park Horse and Hiking Trails
For sports fans, Manhattan offers collegiate athletics at its finest. The Kansas State University Wildcats field NCAA Division 1A teams in several different sports and since 1997 have competed in the Big 12 Conference. In prior years, the University has belonged to the Missouri Valley Conference (1913 to 1928), the Big Six Conference (1928 to 1947), the Big Seven Conference (1947 to 1958), and the Big Eight Conference (1958 to 1996). During that time span, Wildcat teams have racked up over 50 Conference Championships.
Professional sports fans willing to get on Interstate 70 to take the two-hour drive east to Kansas City (Missouri) will be rewarded with plenty of major league action. Teams located in Kansas City include baseball's Kansas City Royals (MLB), football's Kansas City Chiefs (NFL), and soccer's Kansas City Wizards (MLS). All three teams play their games at the Truman Sports Complex, situated about 10 miles from the Kansas-Missouri state line.
Auto racing fans can avoid crossing the Missouri border and instead take the slightly shorter drive east to the "other" Kansas City (Kansas City, Kansas), where the Kansas Speedway hosts races from several major circuits. Fans taking an even shorter drive (about an hour) to Topeka can watch National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag racing events which take place at Heartland Park Topeka.