Mankato, Minnesota

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Mankato, Minnesota
North Riverfront Drive Commercial District
North Riverfront Drive Commercial District
Key City
Leading the way...
Location of the city of Mankato within Blue Earth County in the state of Minnesota
Location of the city of Mankato
within Blue Earth County
in the state of Minnesota
Coordinates: 44°09′53″N 94°00′50″W / 44.16472°N 94.01389°W / 44.16472; -94.01389
CountryUnited States
CountiesBlue Earth, Nicollet, Le Sueur
FoundedFebruary 1852
IncorporatedMarch 6, 1868
 • TypeCity charter
 • MayorNajwa Massad[1]
 • City managerSusan Arntz[2]
 • Council MembersMike Laven
Michael McLaughlin
Dennis Dieken
Kevin Mettler
Jenn Melby-Kelley
Jessica Hatanpa
 • City20.142 sq mi (52.168 km2)
 • Land19.892 sq mi (51.521 km2)
 • Water0.350 sq mi (0.905 km2)
Elevation1,007 ft (307 m)
 • City44,488
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,279.0/sq mi (880.1/km2)
 • Urban
60,206 (US: 453rd)
 • Metro
104,248 (US: 352nd)
Time zoneUTC–6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC–5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
56001, 56002, 56003
Area code507
FIPS code27-39878
GNIS feature ID2395831[4]
Sales tax7.875%[7]

Mankato (/mænˈkt/ man-KAY-toh)[8] is a city in Blue Earth, Nicollet, and Le Sueur counties in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It is the county seat of Blue Earth County, Minnesota. The population was 44,488 according to the 2020 census,[5] making it the 21st-largest city in Minnesota, and the 5th-largest outside of the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area. It is along a large bend of the Minnesota River at its confluence with the Blue Earth River. Mankato is across the Minnesota River from North Mankato. Mankato and North Mankato have a combined population of 58,763 according to the 2020 census. It completely encompasses the town of Skyline. North of Mankato Regional Airport, a tiny non-contiguous part of the city lies within Le Sueur County. Most of the city is in Blue Earth County.

Mankato is the larger of the two principal cities of the Mankato-North Mankato metropolitan area, which covers Blue Earth and Nicollet Counties and had a combined population of 103,566 at the 2020 census. The U.S. Census Bureau designated Mankato a Metropolitan Statistical Area in November 2008.[9]


Henry Jackson was an early settler.
Execution of the 38 Sioux (Dakota) at Mankato, Minnesota, 1862

Mankato Township was not settled by European Americans until Parsons King Johnson in February 1852, as part of the 19th-century migration of people from the east across the Midwest. New residents organized the city of Mankato on May 11, 1858, the day Minnesota became a state. The city was organized by Johnson, Henry Jackson, Daniel A. Robertson, Justus C. Ramsey, and others. A popular story says that the city was supposed to have been named Mahkato, but a typographical error by a clerk established the name as Mankato.[10] According to Warren Upham, quoting historian Thomas Hughes of Mankato, "The honor of christening the new city was accorded to Col. Robertson. He had taken the name from Nicollet's book, in which the French explorer compared the 'Mahkato' or Blue Earth River, with all its tributaries, to the water nymphs and their uncle in the German legend of Undine...No more appropriate name could be given the new city, than that of the noble river at whose mouth it is located."[11] While it is uncertain that the city was intended to be called Mahkato, the Dakota called the river Makato Osa Watapa ("the river where blue earth is gathered"). The Anglo settlers adapted that as "Blue Earth River".[11] Frederick Webb Hodge, in the Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, said the town was named after the older of the two like-named chiefs of the Mdewakanton nation of the Santee Dakota, whose village stood on or near the site of the present town.

Ishtakhaba, also known as Chief Sleepy Eye, of the Sisseton band, was said to have directed settlers to this location. He said the site at the confluence of the Minnesota and Blue Earth Rivers was well suited to building and river traffic, and yet safe from flooding.[12]

On December 26, 1862, United States Volunteers of the State of Minnesota carried out the largest mass execution in U.S. history at Mankato after the Dakota War of 1862. Companies of the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th Minnesota Infantry Regiments, and Minnesota Cavalry oversaw the hanging of 38 men: 35 Santee Sioux and 3 biracial French/native American, for their involvement in the war crimes committed during the uprising.[13][14] The crimes included intentional killings, mutilations and rapes of hundreds of unarmed civilians. A USV military tribunal reviewed nearly 500 cases, of which 303 received a death sentence, but President Lincoln requested the court files. He reviewed them, placing the rape cases at the top, and pardoning 265. Episcopal Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple urged leniency to which Lincoln responded that he had to take a balanced approach. His position and dismissals were unpopular in Minnesota. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event a large granite marker was erected that stood at the site until 1971, when the city took it down. Today, a different monument marks the execution site. Across the street are two monuments to the Native Americans in what it called Reconciliation Park. The Blue Earth County Library, Main street and Reconciliation Park cover the immediate vicinity of the execution site.

In 1880, Mankato was Minnesota's fourth-most populous city, with 5,500 residents.[15]

Former Vice President Schuyler Colfax died while traveling through Mankato on January 13, 1885.[16]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.142 square miles (52.17 km2), of which 19.892 square miles (51.52 km2) is land and 0.350 square miles (0.91 km2) is water.[3] The Minnesota, Blue Earth, and Le Sueur rivers all flow through or near the city.


Mankato has a humid continental climate, type Dfa (hot summer subtype).[17] Winters are cold, with snow cover (continuous most winter seasons) beginning typically between mid-November and mid-December, ending in March most years. However, Mankato often receives less snow than areas to its north and east. For example, Minneapolis, 75 miles (121 km) northeast of Mankato, averages over 54 inches (140 cm) of snow per winter season, compared to Mankato's seasonal average of 35 inches (89 cm). The coldest month, January, has an average monthly temperature around 14 °F (−10 °C). Dangerously low wind-chill temperatures are a significant hazard during the winter months, as Arctic air outbreaks rush into the area from Canada, borne on high winds; this can bring about ground blizzard conditions, especially in nearby rural areas.

Summers are warm, with occasional but usually brief hot, humid periods, often interspersed with pushes of cooler air from Canada, often preceded by showers and thunderstorms. The hottest month, July, has an average monthly temperature around 73 °F (22.8 °C). Precipitation falls year round, but falls mostly as snow from December to February, sometimes March, and as showers and thunderstorms during the warmer season, from May to September. Mankato's average wettest months are from June to August, with frequent thunderstorm activity. Mankato lies on the northern fringe of the central United States’ main tornado belt, with lower risk than in Iowa and Missouri to the south. The highest-risk months for severe thunderstorms and (rarely) tornadoes, are May through July. However, a very unusual early tornado outbreak affected areas within 20 miles (32 km) of Mankato on March 29, 1998, when an F3 tornado hit St. Peter, 13 miles (21 km) to Mankato's north. On August 17, 1946, tornadoes struck southwestern areas of Mankato and the town of Wells to the southeast, killing 11 people.[18]

Climate data for Mankato, Minnesota
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 62
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 23
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 6
Record low °F (°C) −38
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.96
Average snowfall inches (cm) 7.5
Source: National Climatic Data Center[19]


Historical population
2022 (est.)45,140[6]1.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[20]
2020 Census[5]

2020 census[edit]

Mankato Racial Composition[21]
Race Number Percent
White (NH) 34,381 77.3%
Black or African American (NH) 3,652 8.2%
Native American (NH) 162 0.4%
Asian (NH) 1,698 3.8%
Pacific Islander (NH) 21 0.0%
Some Other (NH) 184 0.4%
Other/Mixed (NH) 1,801 4.0%
Hispanic or Latino 2,589 5.8%

As of the 2020 census, there were 44,488 people, 17,576 households, and 8,344 families residing in the city.[22] The population density was 2,305.2 inhabitants per square mile (890.0/km2). There were 18,855 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 79.0% White, 8.4% African American, 0.5% Native American, 3.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.3% from some other races and 5.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.8% of the population.[23] 16.9% of residents were under the age of 18, 5.0% were under 5 years of age, and 12.5% were 65 and older.

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 census, there were 39,309 people, 14,851 households, and 7,093 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,195.3 inhabitants per square mile (847.6/km2). There were 15,784 housing units at an average density of 881.3 per square mile (340.3/km2). The city's racial makeup was 89.9% White, 4.0% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0.8% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 2.9% of the population.

There were 14,851 households, of which 22.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.0% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 52.2% were non-families. 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.91.

The median age in the city was 25.4 years. 16.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 32.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.8% were from 25 to 44; 16.6% were from 45 to 64; and 10.6% were 65 years of age or older. The city's gender makeup was 50.0% male and 50.0% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the 2000 census, there were 32,427 people, 12,367 households, and 6,059 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,132.5 inhabitants per square mile (823.4/km2). There were 12,759 housing units at an average density of 839.1 per square mile (324.0/km2). The city's racial makeup was 92.55% White, 1.90% African American, 0.34% Native American, 2.81% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 0.94% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 2.22% of the population.

There were 12,367 households, of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.7% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.0% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.90.

16.9% of the city's residents were under the age of 18; 32.5% were between age 18 and 24; 23.9% were from 25 to 44; 15.4% were from 45 to 64; and 11.3% were age 65 or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,956, and the median income for a family was $47,297. Males had a median income of $30,889 versus $22,081 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,652. About 8.5% of families and 19.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.6% of those under age 18 and 11.8% of those age 65 or over.


Top employers[edit]

According to the City's 2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report,[24] the largest employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees Percentage
1 Mankato Area Public Schools ISD #77 2,123 8.06%
2 Immanuel St. Joseph's - Mayo Health System 1,300 4.94%
3 Minnesota State University, Mankato 1,300 4.94%
4 Walmart Distribution Center 525 1.99%
5 Blue Earth County 491 1.86%
6 Mankato Clinic 425 1.61%
7 Mankato Rehabilitation Center Inc. Industrial Operation 375 1.42%
8 Compeer Financial 362 1.37%
9 Johnson Outdoors-Mankato 360 1.37%
10 The City of Mankato 313 1.19%
Total employers 7,574 28.75%

Arts and culture[edit]

Major events[edit]

  • Minnesota State University was home to the Minnesota Vikings summer training camp for 52 years.[25] The Vikings announced their training camp would move to Eagan starting in 2018.[26]

Places of interest[edit]

The original Happy Chef Restaurant and corporate offices on U.S. Highway 169


The Blue Earth County Library, part of the Traverse des Sioux Library System, serves the city.


Mankato is in Minnesota's 1st congressional district, represented by Brad Finstad.[29] It is in Minnesota Senate district 19, represented by Nick Frentz, and Minnesota House district 19B, represented by Luke Frederick. Mankato voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.[30]


Old Main, Bethany Lutheran College

The Mankato Area Public Schools are consolidated to include the cities of Mankato, North Mankato, Eagle Lake, and Madison Lake. There are ten elementary schools (Franklin, Eagle Lake, Kennedy, Washington, Roosevelt, Jefferson, Monroe, Hoover, Rosa Parks, and Bridges); two middle schools (Dakota Meadows Middle School and Prairie Winds Middle School); and two high schools (Mankato West High School and Mankato East High School).

Mankato has four parochial schools: Loyola Catholic School, Immanuel Lutheran Grade School and High School (K–12), Mount Olive Lutheran School (K–8) and Risen Savior Lutheran School (K–8). There is also a public charter school, Kato Public Charter School. The alternative school Central High, on Fulton Street, is another educational option.

Higher education institutions[edit]


The major daily newspaper in the area is the Mankato Free Press.




  • 89.1 FM, KTIS (AM), Christian talk and teaching
  • 89.7 FM, KMSU, college radio
  • 90.5 FM, KNGA, Minnesota Public Radio
  • 91.5 FM, KGAC, classical
  • 93.1 FM, KATO-FM, classic hits
  • 94.1 FM, KXLP, classic rock
  • 94.9 FM, KTIS-FM, contemporary Christian music
  • 95.3 FM, KCMP, adult album alternative
  • 95.7 FM, KMKO-FM, active rock
  • 96.7 FM, KDOG, top 40
  • 99.1 FM, KEEZ-FM, adult contemporary
  • 100.5 FM, KXAC, country
  • 101.5 FM, KEMJ, adult contemporary
  • 101.7 FM, KMKO-FM, active rock
  • 102.7 FM, KTOE, news/talk
  • 103.1 FM, KFSP, sport talk
  • 103.5 FM, KYSM-FM, country
  • 104.5 FM, KJLY, Christian
  • 105.1 FM, KCMP, adult album alternative
  • 105.5 FM, KRBI-FM, adult contemporary
  • 107.1 FM, KJLY, Christian




Public transportation in Mankato is provided by the Mankato Transit System. The city is served by Mankato Regional Airport, which has no commercial flights. Under MnDOT's 2015 State Rail Plan, Mankato is listed as a Tier 1 Corridor for regional rail service from Minneapolis and/or St. Paul. U.S. Highways 14 and 169 and Minnesota State Highways 22 and 60 are four of Mankato's main routes.

Major highways[edit]

The following routes are within the city of Mankato.

In popular culture[edit]

The protagonist of Sinclair Lewis's 1920 novel Main Street, Carol Milford, is a former Mankato resident. Lewis describes Mankato as follows: "In its garden-sheltered streets and aisles of elms is white and green New England reborn", alluding to its many migrants from New England, who brought their culture with them. Lewis wrote a substantial portion of the novel while staying at the J.W. Schmidt House at 315 South Broad Street, as now marked by a small plaque in front of the building.[33]

In 1996, Don Descy created as a teaching tool and example that not everything on the Internet should be believed.[34][35]


In 2016 Food & Wine credited a 1930 Mankato church congregation cookbook as the first written record of a hotdish recipe. Many churches publish cookbooks with recipes submitted by their congregation as fund raisers.[36] The source included neither the name of the woman who invented the recipe nor the source. Mankato resident Joyce Nelson had a copy of the 1930 Lutheran church recipe book and it was found that the recipe was indeed included in that year's cookbook. Mrs. C. W. Anderson had submitted a recipe for a "HOT DISH" made with hamburger, onions, Creamette pasta, celery, a can of peas, tomato soup and tomatoes.[37][38]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mankato City Council | Mankato, MN". Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  2. ^ "City Manager's Office | Mankato, MN". Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  3. ^ a b "2023 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 28, 2024.
  4. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Mankato, Minnesota
  5. ^ a b c "Explore Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 28, 2024.
  6. ^ a b "City and Town Population Totals: 2020-2022". United States Census Bureau. June 19, 2023. Retrieved June 19, 2023.
  7. ^ "Mankato (MN) sales tax rate". Retrieved April 28, 2024.
  8. ^ "Minnesota Pronunciation Guide". Associated Press. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  9. ^ Linehan, Dan (April 12, 2008). "Mankato designated MSA". Mankato Free Press. Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  10. ^ "History of Blue Earth County". Blue Earth County, Minnesota. Archived from the original on August 14, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Upham, Warren (2001). Minnesota Place Names, A Geographical Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society. p. 65. ISBN 0-87351-396-7.
  12. ^ "Ish Tak Ha Be (Sleepy Eye)". Minnesota State University Mankato. May 31, 2010. Archived from the original on May 31, 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  13. ^ 9th Regiment, Minnesota Infantry, The Civil War - Battle Unit Details, Union Minnesota Volunteers, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior website [1]
  14. ^ 10th Regiment, Minnesota Infantry, Battle Unit Details, Union Minnesota Volunteers, National Park Service, Department of the Interior website [2]
  15. ^ Minnesota Place Names: A Geographical Encyclopedia, Minnesota Historical Society website. Archived June 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Glass, Andrew (January 13, 2010). "Former House Speaker Schuyler Colfax dies, Jan. 13, 1885". Politico. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  17. ^ "North Mankato, Minnesota Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  18. ^ Nienaber, Dan (May 31, 2006). "Memories of 1946 tornado remain vivid". Mankato Free Press. Archived from the original on December 5, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  19. ^ "Monthly and Season Total SnowFall Amount". NCDC. 2010. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  20. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  21. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Mankato city, Minnesota".
  22. ^ "US Census Bureau, Table P16: Household Type". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 28, 2024.
  23. ^ "How many people live in Mankato city, Minnesota". USA Today. Retrieved April 28, 2024.
  24. ^ "City of Mankato 2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report" (PDF). April 28, 2024. p. 223.
  25. ^ "Mankato readies for Vikings training camp". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on November 21, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  26. ^ Olson, Rochelle (July 19, 2017). "Minnesota Vikings, Mankato part ways after one final training camp beginning next week". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on July 31, 2017. Retrieved August 11, 2017.Vikings-Mankato-Part-Ways
  27. ^ Linehan, Dan (June 25, 2007). "Civic center to be Alltel Center". Mankato Free Press. Archived from the original on March 21, 2019. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  28. ^ Murray, Robb (May 26, 2023). "Ready to rock? Concert season heating up at Vetter Stone Amphitheater". Mankato Free Press. Retrieved May 12, 2024.
  29. ^ "Republican Rep. Brad Finstad sworn in to finish Hagedorn's House term". August 12, 2022.
  30. ^ Park, Alice; Smart, Charlie; Taylor, Rumsey; Watkins, Miles (January 3, 2019). "An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2020 Election". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  31. ^ "The Economic Impact of Minnesota State University, Mankato" (PDF). Amherst H. Wilder Research Foundation. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 26, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  32. ^ Stavig, Vicky (April 25, 2018). "How Mankato Came to Be Minnesota's Hottest Economic Region". Twin Cities Business Magazine. MSP Communications. Archived from the original on August 17, 2018. Retrieved August 16, 2018. Top Five Employers: Taylor Cos. (2,400 employees), Mayo Clinic Health System (1,830 employees), Minnesota State University Mankato (1,700 employees), Mankato Area Public Schools (1,200 employees), MRCI (1,200 employees), Source: Greater Mankato Growth
  33. ^ "Historical Attractions". Archived from the original on July 14, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  34. ^ Dyslin, Amanda (August 21, 2007). "Parody Web site fools two into visiting Mankato". Mankato Free Press. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  35. ^ Kelley, Tina (March 4, 1999). "Whales in the Minnesota River". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  36. ^ "The enduring love for church cookbooks". Living Lutheran. April 21, 2021. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  37. ^ Christman, Pat (March 12, 2016). "Mankato cookbook gets credit for first hot dish recipe". MPRNEWS. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  38. ^ "Sharing Food: Minnesota's own hot dish". The Minnesota Daily. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  39. ^ The Legislative Manual of the State of Minnesota. Saint Paul, MN: Minnesota Secretary of State. 1937. p. 482 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]