What’s up with Key City?

That’s a great question, reader.

The name Key City for the site came from the old nickname for Mankato. So, where did that come from?

Reader, you are just full of wonderful inquisitions today!

Let me give you the skinny on the name and why I think it applies to my site.

Back in 1925 the Mankato Chamber of Commerce decided to hold a little competition to the end of getting a nickname for our city.

There were submissions and in this recollection from the Blue Earth County Historical Society, one resident suggested that we nickname the city “River City” because apparently the views of the Minnesota are better than the views of the Danube and Rhine.


A matter of opinion I guess, but the wall certainly isn’t helping anything.

They landed on Key City because at the time the agriculture, industry and location of Mankato made it an obvious spot to do business.

Well guess what. Not much has changed. Mankato is the fastest growing city in the state and is still an obvious spot to do business.

If you go back and look at old pictures of Mankato, it’s pretty clear to see that we had something really, really special. Big beautiful brick buildings accented or made entirely of a unique stone. Something that when you landed in Mankato you said “Wow”

That’s all I want back. The wow factor.

But that’s not completely why I chose the name. I think Key City is really applicable to any city in the U.S. You can make your city a “Key City” by embracing walkability and traditional building styles and land use. It’s one of those paradoxes that work: everyone can be a key city.

Mankato especially has a great opportunity to become a city that people want to move to, not just for jobs, but for a sense of place, for a sense of community.

All if we change from the “norm” of what we have been doing. Density and walkability are key (ha!) to financial resiliency and resident retention.

I’m optimistic, which is a first for me.

About Matthias Leyrer

Matthias Leyrer is a resident of Mankato looking to restore a fraction of its old glory. He writes about the economic, aesthetic, practical and financial issues facing the city of Mankato going forward.