Without looking it up, I wagered that Manning has a population of about 3000 to 4000 people.
In reality? They are just under 1500. Count me as surprised. The town has the amenities of a city with two or three times their actual population. That's a testament to the leadership and pride of the community. You can sense their momentum and vitality. Through their participation in the Main Street Iowa program, it's clear that there is more progress on the way and they are ready and eager to keep things moving in the right direction.
On a recent Saturday, after making visits to Little Green Truck Coffee Company in Auburn and Mount Carmel, I stopped in Manning and spent a couple of hours exploring the town. I had a hot beef sandwich for lunch at Deb's Corner Cafe and then attempted to walk of the calories by enjoying the charming and historic downtown district.
There's something about cobblestone streets that will immediately ratchet up the charm of a place.
There are lots of different buildings in downtown Manning an nearly all of them looked like they were in good condition. Additionally, it looked like most of them were in use. Many of them also play into the history and ancestry of the town - a community founded by German immigrants.
A variety of streetscape elements add to the downtown buildings of commerce. From attractive marketing banners on the decorative light poles to metalwork artwork depicting famous landmarks around the area, it was all nicely tied together.
There are also several statue art pieces that are quite fun.
At the south end of the downtown is a city park that keeps the theme going.
Back in the downtown area, I also found a mural depicting Manning of yesteryear (1910).
There's also a very nice veteran's memorial that honors area veterans going back decades.
You can read much more about the various installations on Manning's "Arts and Antiquities Tour" website. It's a wealth of information. The site does not even include the very "instagram worthy" I O W A sculpture.
There are many reasons to come to downtown Manning and their efforts to beautify the streets with art just adds to the experience. As a town, Manning is executing the fundamentals very well. With these additions, they are making their town a true destination.