Manhattan was incorporated in 1857. Like many other new towns at that time, it was platted. Meaning the layout, size, and names of the streets were predetermined, the land within the confines of those streets were divided, and certain areas were set aside for schools, parks, markets, and public squares.
Everything included in the original town plat was also within city limits. This created ease for the transaction of land, the provision of utilities, and provided a framework for the city’s development into the future. For the better part of Manhattan’s first 100 years, the city stayed snugly within the boundaries of this original plat. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that the city broke free from its crib and started toddling around in the hills of the western frontier. To this day, it is very easy to see where the original city plat was. If you look at any map of Manhattan, you’ll see a distinctive grid pattern to the streets around areas like Downtown, Aggieville, and everything in between. This gridded area generally marks the original town plat and original city limits.