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Feb 26

Eighties in Manhattan, what a gas: the 1880s!

Posted on February 26, 2018 at 10:58 AM by Michael Goens

Hitch up the horses and hop into a carriage for a ride down dusty Poyntz Avenue. Horse traffic mingles with shoppers as tradesmen hustle around to merchant shops along the bustling boulevard. Diners, blacksmiths and mercantile stores mark Manhattan as a growing town during its infancy from the 1880s.

Riley County Historical Museum documents these elements as it salutes the city’s growth during the Second Industrial Revolution. RCHM presents Time Travel to the 1880s, with its third program in the series at the public library on March 15.

Goodnow House interiorIn that era, Manhattan was bordered by cattle towns of Abilene and Kansas City, and this made cattle ranchers an important part of the region’s growth along the Kansas prairie. The city doubled in size during the late 19th century decade when women’s fashion featured button shoes, bonnets and bustles, and hobble skirts were all the rage from Leavenworth Street to Houston Street.

Street travel hummed along unimpeded by any manner of traffic signal. Restaurants featured beef cattle, with bread, corn and numerous veggies as diners were led by lights ablaze from post-mounted kerosene lamps. Home-cooked meals were more monotony with cornbread and seasonable vegetables.

Get a taste for Manhattan’s fashion, foods and famous people, circa late 1800s and Kansas State University’s inaugural two decades. Fort Riley, too, held a pivotal presence in the landscape, as new Secretary of War Redfield Proctor visited the Army post in May 1889 upon the election of Benjamin Harrison as the 23rd President.

You’ll meet the movers and shakers of the city in the 25 years since Isaac Goodnow landed with his traveling party on March 24, 1855. Get a dazzling taste for the full range of Manhattan’s progress to today’s center of northeast Kansas culture with visits to the museum at 2309 Claflin Road.

This is a free event presented by Riley County Historical Museum Director Cheryl Collins, RCHM Curator (Archives) Linda Glasgow, Curator (Collections) Corina Hugo, Curator (Design) Allana Saenger Parker and Marla Day, Kansas State University historic costume and textiles museum senior curator.


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