When Jordy Nelson isn’t catching passes from Aaron Rodgers for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, he’s likely to be catching up with family and friends in Manhattan, KS, where he was born, grew up and attended Kansas State University before embarking on a professional football career in 2008.
To Nelson, Manhattan’s place among the Top 100 Best Places to Live – the Little Apple, as it’s nicknamed, ranks 70 on our list for 2015 – is as natural a fit as a football resting in his hands after yet another touchdown reception.
“I think Manhattan is a special place, first and foremost, because of the people,” Nelson says. “They are great people who care about one another. Kansas State adds to that atmosphere with their athletics and the downtown, but you still have that small-town atmosphere. It’s just a great place to live.”
Schools in Manhattan
When it comes to education, Manhattan is best known for its university, but residents know that the city’s high marks also spring from its well-regarded preschool-12 options.
Longtime local Wynn Butler, who serves as mayor of the City of Manhattan, can attest to that personally.
“Good schools and safe neighborhoods are of course a driving force when families select a location to live, and the districts that serve Manhattan have first-class facilities and are well staffed,” Butler says. “My daughter graduated from Manhattan High. The K-12 system served our family well.”
That’s not to shortchange KSU, of course, which draws a spotlight to Manhattan through its academic prowess and high-profile athletics programs competing in the Big 12 Conference.
“Being a collegiate town has many advantages,” Butler says. “The university brings in cultural events through activities at McCain Auditorium and the Beach Art Museum. And, of course, we have the entire sports lineup. If you don’t live in a university town, you are missing out.”
Living in Manhattan
Manhattanites aren’t missing out on community pride, either, as noted by the city’s strong showing in the Civic category.
“Manhattan as a community is involved, and residents care about the city,” says Butler, adding that cooperation among local leaders fosters engagement. “As a community, we are focused on quality of life for everyone. That involves a partnership of government and private entities. A quick look at the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation and its varied funds clearly demonstrates a sense of community, giving and caring for Manhattan citizens.”
Health and housing opportunities also elevate Manhattan as an alluring destination.
“We like the four seasons in Manhattan, and the climate, temperature and fresh air of the Flint Hills are major reasons we have a healthy population,” Butler says. “Add our parks, trails and community-sports program, and you can see an active, fit Manhattan population. As a bike-friendly city, we have not only recreational trails but a few bike boulevards to help enthusiasts ride to work.”
A myriad of living options add to the Little Apple’s appeal. “Housing opportunities in Manhattan are excellent and will fit any household budget,” Butler says. “We have a diverse array of housing, from homes on the Golf Course at Cobert Hills to a variety of apartment complexes.
“Couple the local schools with neighborhood parks and easy access to shopping, and it is clear that Manhattan is the place to live,” he says.