All About Des Moines, Iowa Geographic Area
Des Moines i/dɨˈmɔɪn/ is the capital and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Iowa. It is also the county seat of Polk County. A small portion of the city extends into Warren County. It was incorporated on September 22, 1851, as Fort Des Moines which was shortened to "Des Moines" in 1857. It is named after the Des Moines River, which may have been adapted from the French Rivière des Moines, literally meaning "River of the Monks." The five-county metropolitan area is ranked 88th in terms of population in the United States with 580,255 residents according to the 2011 estimate by the United States Census Bureau. The city proper population was 203,433 at the 2010 census.
Des Moines is a major center for the insurance industry and also has a sizable financial services and publishing business base. In fact, Des Moines was credited with the "number one spot for U.S. insurance companies" in a Business Wire article. The city is the headquarters for the Principal Financial Group, Aviva insurance, the Meredith Corporation, Ruan Transportation, EMC Insurance Companies, and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Other major corporations such as Wells Fargo, ING Group, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Marsh, Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred have large operations in or near the metro area. Forbes magazine ranked Des Moines as the "Best Place for Business" in 2010 and, in 2011, ranked the city #1 among "America's Best Cities for Young Professionals." Kiplinger's Personal Finance 2008 Best Cities List featured Des Moines as #9. In November 2011, the city of Des Moines was listed as the #1 Greenest city for Women by Self Magazine.
Des Moines is an important city in United States presidential politics as the capital of Iowa, which is home to the Iowa caucuses. The caucuses have been the first major electoral event in nominating the President of the United States since 1972. Hence, many presidential candidates set up campaign headquarters in Des Moines. A 2007 article in The New York Times stated "if you have any desire to witness presidential candidates in the most close-up and intimate of settings, there is arguably no better place to go than Des Moines."
Des Moines takes its name from Fort Des Moines (1843–46), which was named for the Des Moines River. The French "des Moines" (pronounced [demwan] ( listen)) translates literally to either "from the monks" or "of the monks".
The historian Virgil Vogel claimed that "Moingona" was derived from the Algonquian clan name "Loon".
Some historians and researchers lacking linguistic or Algonquianist training concluded that Moingona meant "people by the portage" or something similar, a reference to the Des Moines Rapids, where the earliest meetings between the Moingona and European explorers took place.
One popular interpretation of "Des Moines" ignores Vogel's research, and concludes that "Des Moines" refers to French Trappist monks, who lived in huts on top of what is now known as Monks Mound near St. Louis some 200 miles (320 km) from the Des Moines River.
A controversial recent hypothesis using a study of Miami-Illinois tribal names concludes the word Moingona comes from mooyiinkweena, a derogatory name which translates roughly to "the excrement-faces." The name was apparently given to Marquette and Joliet by a tribal leader to dissuade them from doing business with a neighboring tribe. This alternative etymology has been rejected by the amateur historian Jim Fay.
The juncture of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers has attracted humans for at least 7,000 years. Several prehistoric occupation areas have been identified in downtown Des Moines by archaeologists. Discovered in December 2010, the "Palace" is an expansive 7,000 year old site located at the new wastewater treatment plant in southeastern Des Moines. It contains well-preserved house deposits and numerous graves. John Doershuk was assisted by the University of Iowa archaeologists at this ongoing dig.
At least three Late Prehistoric villages stood in or near downtown Des Moines, dating from about AD 1300 to 1700. In addition, 15 to 18 prehistoric American Indian mounds were observed in downtown Des Moines by early settlers. All have been destroyed.
The City of Des Moines traces its origins to May 1843, when Captain James Allen supervised the construction of a fort on the site where the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers merge. Allen wanted to use the name Fort Raccoon; however, the U.S. War Department told him to name it Fort Des Moines. The fort was built to control the Sauk and Meskwaki Indians, who had been transplanted to the area from their traditional lands in eastern Iowa. The fort was abandoned in 1846 after the Sauk and Meskwaki were removed from the state.
The Sauk and Meskwaki did not fare well in Des Moines. The illegal whiskey trade, combined with the destruction of traditional lifeways, led to severe problems. One newspaper reported: "It is a fact that the location of Fort Des Moines among the Sac and Fox Indians (under its present commander) for the last two years, had corrupted them more and lowered them deeper in the scale of vice and degradation, than all their intercourse with the whites for the ten years previous." Even after official removal, the Meskwaki continued to return to Des Moines until ca. 1857. Archaeological excavations have demonstrated that many fort-related features survived under what is now Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway and First Street. Soldiers stationed at Fort Des Moines opened the first coal mines in the area, mining coal from the riverbank for the fort's blacksmith.
Settlers occupied the abandoned fort and nearby areas. On May 25, 1846, Fort Des Moines became the seat of Polk County. Arozina Perkins, a school teacher who spent the winter of 1850–1851 in the town of Fort Des Moines, was not favorably impressed:
This is one of the strangest looking "cities" I ever saw... This town is at the juncture of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers. It is mostly a level prairie with a few swells or hills around it. We have a court house of "brick", and one church, a plain, framed building belonging to the Methodists. There are two taverns here, one of which has a most important little bell that rings together some fifty boarders. I cannot tell you how many dwellings there are, for I have not counted them; some are of logs, some of brick, some framed, and some are the remains of the old dragoon houses...The people support two papers and there are several dry goods shops. I have been into but four of them... Society is as varied as the buildings are. There are people from nearly every state, and Dutch, Swedes, etc.
In May 1851, much of the town was destroyed during the Flood of 1851. "The Des Moines and Raccoon rivers rose to an unprecedented height, inundating the entire country east of the Des Moines river. Crops were utterly destroyed, houses and fences swept away." This flood provided a clean slate for the city to grow on.
On September 22, 1851, Des Moines was incorporated as a city, the charter was approved by voters on October 18. In 1857, the name "Fort Des Moines" was shortened to "Des Moines" and the state capital was moved here from Iowa City. Growth was slow during the Civil War period, but the city exploded in size and importance after a railroad link was completed in 1866.
In 1864, the Des Moines Coal Company was organized to begin the first systematic mining in the region. Its first mine, north of town on the west side of the river, was exhausted by 1873. The Black Diamond mine, near the south end of the West Seventh Street Bridge, sunk a 150-foot (46 m) mine shaft to reach a 5-foot-thick (1.5 m) coal bed. By 1876, this mine employed 150 men and shipped 20 carloads of coal per day. By 1885, there were numerous mine shafts within the city limits, and mining began to spread into the surrounding countryside. By 1893, there were 23 mines in the region. By 1908, the coal resources of Des Moines were largely exhausted. Nonetheless, in 1912, Des Moines was home to eight locals of the United Mine Workers union representing a total of 1,410 miners. This represents about 1.7 percent of the city's population in 1910.
By 1900, Des Moines was Iowa's largest city with a population of 62,139. In 1910, the Census Bureau reported Des Moines' population as 97.3% white and 2.7% black.
At the turn of the 20th century, Des Moines undertook a "City Beautiful" project in which large Beaux Arts public buildings and fountains were constructed along the Des Moines River. The former Des Moines Public Library building (now the home of the World Food Prize), the central Post Office (now Polk County Administrative Building with a newer addition attached), and the City Hall are surviving examples of the 1900–1910 buildings. They form the Civic Center Historic District.
The ornate riverfront balustrade that still line the Des Moines and Raccoon River were built by the federal Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid 1930s. The ornamental fountains that once stood along the riverbank were buried in the 1950s, when the city began a post-industrial decline which lasted until the late 1980s. The city has since rebounded, transforming from a blue-collar industrial city to a white-collar professional city.
In 1907, the city adopted a city commission government known as the Des Moines Plan, comprising an elected mayor and four commissioners who were responsible for public works, public property, public safety, and finance. This form of government was scrapped in 1950 in favor of a council-manager government, and further changed in 1967 so that four of the seven city council members were elected by ward rather than at-large. As with many major urban areas, the city core began losing population to the suburbs in the 1960s (the peak population of 208,982 was recorded in 1960). The population was 198,682 in 2000 and grew slightly to 200,538 in 2009. However, the growth of the outlying suburbs has been a constant and the overall metro area population is over 560,000 today.
During the Great Flood of 1993, heavy rains throughout June and early July caused the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers to rise above flood stage levels. The Des Moines Water Works was submerged by flood waters during the early morning hours of July 11, 1993 leaving an estimated 250,000 people without running water for 12 days and without drinking water for 20 days. Des Moines suffered major flooding again in June 2008 with a major levee breach.
Today, Des Moines is a member of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA, an organization promoting the United Nations' Agenda 21. Through ICLEI, Des Moines has implemented "The Tomorrow Plan", a regional plan focused on developing central Iowa in a sustainable fashion, centrally planning growth and resource consumption to manage the local population.
The skyline of Des Moines changed during the 1970s and 1980s as several new skyscrapers were built. Before then, the 19-story Equitable Building, from 1924, was the tallest building in the city and the tallest building in Iowa. At the time it was completed the Equitable Building was also the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. The 25-story Financial Center was completed in 1973 and the 36-story Ruan Center was completed in 1974. They were later joined by the 33-story Des Moines Marriott Hotel (1981), the 25-story HUB Tower and 25-story Plaza Building (1985), Iowa's tallest building, Principal Financial Group's 45-story tower at 801 Grand (1991), and the 19-story EMC Insurance Building (1997).
This time period also saw the opening of the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines (1979) which hosts Broadway shows and special events, the Des Moines Botanical Center (1979) which is a large city botanical garden/greenhouse on the east side of the river, the Polk County Convention Complex (1985), and the State of Iowa Historical Museum (1987). The Des Moines skywalk system also began to take shape during the 1980s. The skywalk system is 4 miles (6.4 km) long and connects many downtown buildings.
The city is in the midst of major construction in the downtown area. The new Science Center of Iowa and Blank IMAX Dome Theater and the Iowa Events Center opened in 2005, while the new central branch of the Des Moines Public Library, designed by renowned architect David Chipperfield of London, opened on April 8, 2006.
The World Food Prize Foundation, which is based in Des Moines, completed restoration of the former Des Moines Public Library building in October 2011. The former library now serves as the home and headquarters of the Dr. Norman Borlaug/World Food Prize Hall of Laureates.
In 2002, the Principal Financial Group and the city announced plans for the Principal Riverwalk, which will feature trails, pedestrian bridges across the river, a fountain and skating plaza, and a "civic garden" in front of the City Hall. Multiple existing downtown buildings are being converted to loft apartments and condominiums. This trend is highlighted by the success of the East Village district of shops, studios, and housing between the Capitol district and the Des Moines River.
Des Moines is located at 41°35′27″N 93°37′15″W / 41.59083°N 93.62083°W / 41.59083; -93.62083 (41.590939, −93.620866). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 82.60 square miles (213.93 km2), of which, 80.87 square miles (209.45 km2) of it is land and 1.73 square miles (4.48 km2) is water.
In November 2005, Des Moines voters approved a measure that allowed the city to involuntarily annex certain parcels of land in the northeast, southeast, and southern corners of Des Moines, particularly areas bordering the Iowa Highway 5/U.S. 65 bypass. The annexations became official on June 26, 2009, as 5,174 acres (9.27 square miles) and approximately 868 new residents were added to the city of Des Moines. An additional 759 acres (1.18 square miles) were voluntarily annexed to the city over that same period of time time.
The Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of five central Iowa counties: Polk, Dallas, Warren, Madison, and Guthrie. The area had a 2000 census population of 481,394 and an estimated 2009 population of 562,906. The Des Moines-Newton-Pella Combined Statistical Area consists of those five counties plus Jasper and Marion counties; the 2000 census population of this area was 550,659, and the estimated 2009 population was 631,805. Des Moines' suburban communities include Altoona, Ankeny, Bondurant, Carlisle, Clive, Grimes, Johnston, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines, and Windsor Heights.
Being located near the center of North America, far removed from a large body of water, the Des Moines area has a warm summer type Humid continental climate, with hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Summer temperatures can often climb into the 90 °F (32 °C) range, occasionally reaching 100 °F (38 °C). Humidity can be high in spring and summer, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Fall brings pleasant temperatures and colorful fall foliage. Winters vary from moderately cold to bitterly cold, with low temperatures venturing below 0 °F (−18 °C) quite often. Annual snowfall averages 36.4 inches (92 cm), and annual precipitation averages 34.72 inches (882 mm), with a peak in the warmer months.
As of the census of 2010, there were 203,433 people, 81,369 households, and 47,491 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,515.6 inhabitants per square mile (971.3 /km2). There were 88,729 housing units at an average density of 1,097.2 per square mile (423.6 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 76.4% White, 10.2% African American, 0.5% Native American, 4.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 5.0% from other races, and 3.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12.0% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites were 70.5% of the population in 2010, compared to 87.8% in 1990.
There were 81,369 households out of which 28.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.9% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.6% were non-families. 32.5% 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 2.43 and the average family size was 3.11.
The median age in the city was 33.5 years. 24.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 29.4% were from 25 to 44; 23.9% were from 45 to 64; and 11% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.9% male and 51.1% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 198,682 people, 80,504 households, and 48,704 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,621.3 people per square mile (1,012.0/km²). There were 85,067 housing units at an average density of 1,122.3 per square mile (433.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.3% White or Euro American, 8.07% Black or African Americans, 0.35% Native American Indian, 3.50% Asian American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 3.52% from other races, and 2.23% from two or more races. 6.61% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 20.9% were of German, 10.3% Irish, 9.1% American and 8.0% English ancestry, according to Census 2000.
There were 80,504 households out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.5% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 31.8% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $38,408, and the median income for a family was $46,590. Males had a median income of $31,712 versus $25,832 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,467. About 7.9% of families and 11.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.9% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those ages 65 or over.
Many insurance companies are headquartered in Des Moines, including the Principal Financial Group, EMC Insurance Group, Allied Insurance, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Aviva USA, Holmes Murphy, and American Republic Insurance Company. Des Moines has been referred to as the "Hartford of the West" because of this. The Principal is one of two Fortune 500 companies having headquarters in Iowa, ranking 273rd on the magazine's list in 2009.
As a center of financial and insurance services, other major corporations headquartered outside of Iowa have established a presence in the Des Moines Metro area, including Wells Fargo, ING Group, and Electronic Data Systems. The Meredith Corporation, a leading publishing and marketing company, is also based in Des Moines. Meredith publishes Better Homes and Gardens, one of the most widely circulated publications in the United States.
Other major employers in Des Moines include Iowa Health System, Mercy Medical Center, MidAmerican Energy Company, CDS Global, UPS, Firestone Agricultural Tire Company, EDS, Dahl's Foods, Drake University, Titan Tire, The Des Moines Register, Anderson Erickson, Dee Zee and EMCO.
In 2010, Forbes magazine ranked the Des Moines metropolitan area first on its list of "Best Places For Business And Careers," based on factors such as the cost of doing business, cost of living, educational attainment, and crime rate.
The City of Des Moines is a cultural center for Iowa and home to several art and history museums and performing arts groups. The Civic Center of Greater Des Moines routinely hosts Broadway shows and other live professional theater. Its president and CEO, Jeff Chelsvig, is a member of the League of American Theatres and Producers, Inc. The Temple for Performing Arts and Des Moines Playhouse are other venues for live theatre, comedy, and performance arts.
The Des Moines Metro Opera has been a respected cultural resource in Des Moines since 1973. The Opera offers award-winning educational and outreach programs and is one of the largest performing arts organizations in the state. Ballet Des Moines was established in 2002. Currently performing two productions each year, the Ballet also provides opportunities for education and outreach.
The Des Moines Symphony performs frequently at different venues. In addition to performing seven pairs of classical concerts each season, the Symphony also entertains with New Year's Eve Pops and its annual Yankee Doodle Pops concerts.
The Metro Arts Alliance produces 'Jazz in July every year, that offers free jazz shows daily at various venues throughout the city during the entire month of July.
Wells Fargo Arena is the Des Moines area's primary venue for sporting events and concerts since its opening in 2005. Named for title sponsor Wells Fargo Financial Services, Wells Fargo Arena holds 16,980 and books large, national touring acts for arena concert performances, while smaller venues such as the Vaudeville Mews, People's, and the House of Bricks host local, regional, and national bands. It is also the home of the Iowa Energy.
The Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheater is an outdoor concert venue located on the east bank of the Des Moines River which hosts music events such as the Alive Concert Series.
The Des Moines Art Center, with a wing designed by architect I.M. Pei, presents art exhibitions and educational programs as well as hands-on studio art classes. The Center houses an internationally renowned collection of artwork from the 19th century to the present. An extension of the world-renowned art center is located downtown in an energetic urban museum space, featuring three or four exciting and fresh exhibitions each year. A Museum shop offers unique gifts, jewelry, cards, and books.
Dedicated September 27, 2009, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park located in Western Gateway Park from 10th to 15th Streets and between Grand Avenue and Locust Street, showcases a collection of 24 world class sculptures valued at more than $40 million donated by Des Moines philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn. Resting on 4.4 acres (2 ha) of green space, the sculpure park is designed as an outdoor art museum. Nearby is the beautifully restored and historic Temple for Performing Arts, reborn as a cultural center for the city. Next to the Temple is the 117,000-square-foot (10,900 m2) Central Library, with its ultramodern, freeform architecture and "organic" roof designed by renowned English architect David Chipperfield.
Salisbury House and Gardens is a 42-room historic house museum located on 10 acres (4 ha) of woodlands in the South of Grand neighborhood of Des Moines. It is named after—and loosely inspired by—King's House in Salisbury, England. Built in the 1920s by cosmetics magnate Carl Weeks and his wife, Edith, Salisbury House contains authentic 16th century English oak and rafters dating to Shakespeare's days, numerous other architectural features re-purposed from other historic English homes, and an internationally-significant collection of original fine art, tapestries, decorative art, furniture, musical instruments, and rare books and documents. Salisbury House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been featured on A&E's "America's Castles" and PBS's "Antiques Roadshow." Prominent artists in the Salisbury House collection include Joseph Stella, Lillian Genth, Anthony Van Dyck and Lawrence Alma-Tadema.
Built in 1877 by prominent pioneer businessman Hoyt Sherman, Hoyt Sherman Place mansion was Des Moines' first public art gallery and houses a distinctive collection of 19th and 20th century artwork. Its restored 1,250-seat theater features an intricate rococo plaster ceiling and excellent acoustics and is used for a variety of cultural performances and entertainment.
Arising in the east and facing westward toward downtown, the Iowa State Capitol building with its 275-foot (84 m), 23-karat gold leafed dome towering above the city is a favorite of sightseers. Four smaller domes flank the main dome. The Capitol houses the governor's offices, legislature, and the old Supreme Court Chambers. The ornate interior also features a grand staircase, mural "Westward", five-story law library, scale model of the USS Iowa, and collection of first lady dolls. Guided tours are available. The Capitol grounds include a World War II memorial with sculpture and Wall of Memories. Other monuments include the 1894 Soldiers and Sailors Monument of the Civil War and memorials honoring those who served in the Spanish-American, Korean, and Vietnam Wars.
The West Capitol Terrace provides a stunning entrance from the west to the state's grandest building, the State Capitol Building. With its picturesque views, the lush, 10-acre (4 ha) "people's park" at the foot of the Capitol complex includes a promenade and landscaped gardens, in addition to providing public space for rallies and special events. A granite map of Iowa depicting all 99 counties rests at the base of the terrace and has become a popular attraction for in-state visitors, many of whom can be seen walking over the map to find their home county.
Iowa's history lives on in the State of Iowa Historical Museum. This modern granite and glass structure at the foot of the State Capitol Building houses permanent and temporary exhibits exploring the people, places, events, and issues of Iowa's past. The showcase includes native wildlife, American Indian and pioneer artifacts, and political and military items. The Museum features a genealogy and Iowa history library, museum gift shop, and cafe.
Terrace Hill, a National Historic Landmark and Iowa Governor's Residence, is among the best examples of American Victorian Second Empire architecture. This opulent 1869 home was built by Iowa's first millionaire, Benjamin F. Allen, and restored to the late 19th century period. It overlooks downtown Des Moines and is situated on 8 acres (3.2 ha) with a re-created Victorian formal garden. Tours are conducted Tuesdays through Saturdays from March through December.
The 110,000-square-foot (10,000 m2) Science Center of Iowa and Blank IMAX Dome Theater offers seven interactive learning areas, live programs, and hands-on activities encouraging learning and fun for all ages. Among its three theaters include the 216-seat Blank IMAX Dome Theater, 175-seat John Deere Adventure Theater featuring live performances, and a 50-foot (15 m) domed Star Theater.
The Des Moines Botanical Center is an indoor conservatory of over 15,000 exotic plants, one of the largest collections of tropical, subtropical, and desert-growing plants in the Midwest. The Center blooms with thousands of flowers year-round. Beautiful and extensive exterior gardens are also located here. Nearby are the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens and Pavilion, named in honor of the former governor whose influence helped relocate thousands of Vietnamese refugees to Iowa homes in the 1970s and 1980s. Developed by the city's Asian community, the Gardens include a three-story Chinese pavilion, bonsai landscaping, and granite sculptures to highlight the importance of diversity and recognize Asian American contributions in Iowa.
Blank Park Zoo is a beautifully landscaped 22-acre (8.9 ha) zoological park located on the south side. Among the exhibits include a tropical rain forest, Australian Outback, and Africa. The Zoo offers education classes, tours, and rental facilities.
The Great Ape Trust of Iowa was established as a scientific research facility with a 230-acre (93 ha) campus housing bonobos and orangutans for the noninvasive interdisciplinary study of their cognitive and communicative capabilities. The Trust offers small public tours on a seasonal basis and only by reservation.
The East Village, located on the east side of the Des Moines River, begins at the river and extends about five blocks east to the State Capitol Building, offering an eclectic blend of historic buildings, hip eateries, boutiques, art galleries, and a wide variety of other retail establishments mixed with residences.
Adventureland Park is an amusement park in neighboring Altoona, just northeast of Des Moines. The park boasts more than 100 rides, shows, and attractions, including three great roller coasters. A hotel and campground is located just outside the park. Also in Altoona is Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, a popular entertainment venue for gambling and horse racing enthusiasts. Open 24 hours a day, year-round, the racetrack and casino features live racing, plus over 1,750 slot machines, table games, and concert and show entertainment.
Living History Farms in suburban Urbandale tells the story of Midwestern agriculture and rural life in a 500-acre (2.0 km2) open-air museum with interpreters dressed in period costume who recreate the daily routines of early Iowans. Open daily from May through October, the Living History Farms include a 1700 Ioway Indian village, 1850 pioneer farm, 1875 frontier town, 1900 horse-powered farm, and a modern crop center.
Wallace House was the home of the first Henry Wallace, a national leader in agriculture and conservation and the first editor of Wallaces' Farmer farm journal. This restored 1883 Italianate Victorian houses exhibits, artifacts, and information covering four generations of Henry Wallaces and other family members.
Historic Jordan House in West Des Moines is a stately Victorian home built in 1850 and added to in 1870 by the first white settler in West Des Moines, James C. Jordan. Completely refurbished, this mansion was once part of the Underground Railroad and today houses 16 period rooms, a railroad museum, West Des Moines community history, and a museum dedicated to the Underground Railroad in Iowa. In 1893 Jordan’s daughter Eda was sliding down the banister when she fell off and broke her neck. She died two days later and the family said her ghost continued to inhabit the house.
The Chicago Tribune wrote that Iowa's capital city has "walker-friendly downtown streets and enough outdoor sculpture, sleek buildings, storefronts and cafes to delight the most jaded stroller."
Des Moines plays host to a growing number of nationally acclaimed cultural events, including the annual Des Moines Arts Festival in June, Iowa State Fair in August, and the World Food Festival in October. On Saturdays from May through October, the popular Downtown Farmers' Market draws visitors from across the state.
The Court Avenue Entertainment District is the city's preeminent downtown restaurant and nightclub destination.
The 80/35 Music Festival debuted in 2008. 80/35 celebrates music, artists, and fans with such acts as The Flaming Lips and Girl Talk.
Market Day is a monthly craft event which sets up with "the best of the best" of indie crafters in downtown Des Moines from May through November. It is the first monthly indie craft event of its kind.
Other annual cultural festivals include: ArtFest Midwest, Celebrasian Heritage Festival, Des Moines Pride Festival, Des Moines Renaissance Faire, Festa Italiana, Festival of Trees and Lights, Interrobang Film Festival, Latino Heritage Festival, Rib America Festival, Winefest, and Wild Rose Film Festival.
Des Moines currently operates under a council-manager form of government. The council consists of a mayor (who, as of 2012, is Frank Cownie) and is elected in citywide vote, two at-large members, and four members representing each of the city's four wards.
A plan to merge the governments of Des Moines and Polk County was rejected by voters during the November 2, 2004, election. The consolidated city-county government would have had a full-time mayor and a 15-member council that would have been divided among the city and its suburbs. Each suburb would have still retained its individual government but had the option to join the consolidated government at any time. Although a full merger was soundly rejected, many city and county departments and programs have been consolidated.
Des Moines has an extensive skywalk system within its Downtown Core. With over 4 miles of enclosed walkway, it is one of the largest of such systems in the United States. The Des Moines Skywalk System has been criticised for hurting street-level business, though a recent iniative has been made to make street-level Skywalk entrances more visible.
Interstate 235 cuts through the city, and Interstate 35 and Interstate 80 both pass through the Des Moines metropolitan area. On the northern side of the Des Moines metropolitan area, Interstates 35 and 80 converge into a long concurrency while Interstate 235 takes a direct route through Des Moines, Windsor Heights, and West Des Moines before meeting up with Interstates 35 and 80 on the western edge of the metro.
Des Moines' freeway design makes it easy for travellers. If you miss an exit at the interstate "mixmasters" at the eastern and western edges of the metro, you will eventually end up at the convergence of the same interstates at the opposite side of the metro. These Interstates include I-35, I-80, and I-235. Iowa DOT has completed the Interstate 235 expansion project. This freeway, which takes the brunt of most congestion, is six lanes throughout the entire length and expands to eight and ten lanes near the downtown area. The remainder of traffic congestion in the area occurs near the Northeast and West Mixmasters on either side of Des Moines. Interstate 35 south of the West Mixmaster is currently planning to be widened to six lanes all the way down to the IA 5/US 65 bypass interchanges.
Due to increasing traffic congestion and prevalence of accidents along Interstate 235, the city of Des Moines is considering implementing a speeding camera program to curb excessive speeding through the most densely populated parts of Greater Des Moines. The northeast Mixmaster has also undergone a redesign with wider lanes and redesign of bridges allowing easier traffic flow in all directions along Interstates 35, 80, and 235. U.S. Highway 65 and Iowa Highway 5 form a freeway loop to the east and south of the city, providing an alternative route around the metropolitan area. U.S. Highways 6 and 69 and Iowa Highways 28, 141, 163, and 415 are also important routes to and within the city.
There are plans to convert Iowa Highway 5 and U.S. Highway 65 into what would be renamed Interstate 335, giving the Des Moines Metropolitan Area an interstate running from the northeast suburb of Altoona to the southeastern suburb of Carlisle and then connect with Interstate 35 in the southern part of West Des Moines of This was proposed at a Des Moines City Council meeting on May 9, 2011.
Des Moines's public transit system, operated by DART (Des Moines Area Regional Transit), which was the Des Moines Metropolitan Transit Authority until October 2006, consists entirely of buses, including regular in-city routes and express and commuter buses to outlying suburban areas. Downtown Des Moines also features a 3.5-mile (5.6 km)-long (5.6 km) skywalk system, allowing people to move between buildings without going outdoors. As of 2008 a light rail tram system has been proposed.
Greyhound Bus Lines and Jefferson Lines run long-distance, inter-city bus routes to Des Moines. Megabus is now operated service between Des Moines and Chicago. The nearest Amtrak train station is in Osceola, about 40 miles (64 km) south of Des Moines. Trains on the route that passes through Osceola, the California Zephyr, go east to Chicago, Illinois, and as far west as Oakland, California.
The Des Moines International Airport (DSM), located in the southern part of Des Moines, on Fleur Drive, offers non-stop service to destinations within the United States.
The Des Moines Public Schools district is the largest community school district in Iowa with 30,683 enrolled students as of the 2007–2008 school year. The district consists of 63 schools: 38 elementary schools, ten middle schools, five high schools (East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, and Roosevelt), and ten special schools and programs. Small parts of the city are also served by the Southeast Polk Community School District and the Saydel School District. Private schools in the city include Grandview Park Baptist School, Des Moines Christian School, Iowa Christian Academy, Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, and Ankeny Christian Academy on the north side of the metro area.
Des Moines is also home to the main campuses of two four-year private colleges: Drake University and Grand View University. Simpson College, Upper Iowa University, and William Penn University also have classroom facilities in the area. For-profit colleges with classrooms in the area include the University of Phoenix. Des Moines Area Community College is the area's community college with campuses in Ankeny, downtown Des Moines, and West Des Moines. Other institutions of higher learning in Des Moines include the AIB College of Business and Des Moines University, an osteopathic medical school.
The Des Moines market, which originally consisted of Polk, Dallas, Story, and Warren counties, was ranked 91st by Arbitron as of the fall of 2007 with a population of 512,000 aged 12 and older. But in June 2011 it was moved up to 72nd with the addition of Boone, Clarke, Greene, Guthrie, Jasper, Lucas, Madison and Marion Counties.
Most of Des Moines' commercial radio stations are owned by one of four companies. Clear Channel Communications owns five radio stations in the area, including WHO 1040 am, a 50,000-watt AM news/talk station that has the highest ratings in the area and once employed future President Ronald Reagan as a sportscaster. In addition to WHO, Clear Channel owns KDRB 100.3 FM (adult hits), KKDM 107.5 FM (contemporary hits), KPTL 106.3 FM (adult album alternative), and KXNO 1460 am (sports radio). (They also own news/talk station KASI 1430 am and modern rock station KCCQ 105.1 FM, both of which broadcast from Ames.) Citadel Broadcasting owns five stations that broadcast from facilities in Urbandale: KBGG 1700 am (sports), KGGO 94.9 FM (classic rock), KHKI 97.3 FM (country music), KJJY 92.5 FM (country music), and KWQW 98.3 FM (talk radio). Saga Communications owns six stations in the area: KAZR 103.3 FM (active rock), KIOA 93.3 FM (oldies), KLTI 104.1 FM (soft adult contemporary), KPSZ 940 am (contemporary Christian music), KRNT 1350 am (adult standards), and KSTZ 102.5 FM (adult contemporary hits). Connoisseur Communications is a relative newcomer with a pair of move-ins, KZHC 96.3 (Country) and KICP (Rhythmic Top 40), both broadcasting from studios in Indianola. Other stations in the Des Moines area include religious stations KNWI 107.1 FM, KWKY 1150 am, and KPUL 99.5 FM.
Non-commercial radio stations in the Des Moines area include KDPS 88.1 FM, a station operated by the Des Moines Public Schools; KWDM 88.7 FM, a station operated by Valley High School; KJMC 89.3 FM, an urban contemporary station; and KDFR 91.3 FM, operated by Family Radio. WOI 640 am and WOI-FM 90.1 are both based out of Iowa State University in Ames and serve as the area's National Public Radio outlets. Low-power FM stations include Drake University's KDRA-LP and Grand View University's KGVC-LP, which share the 94.1 frequency, and KFMG-LP 99.1, a community radio station broadcasting from the Hotel Fort Des Moines and also webstreamed.
The Des Moines-Ames media market consists of 35 central Iowa counties: Adair, Adams, Appanoose, Audubon, Boone, Calhoun, Carroll, Clarke, Dallas, Decatur, Franklin, Greene, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hardin, Humboldt, Jasper, Kossuth, Lucas, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Pocahontas, Polk, Poweshiek, Ringgold, Story, Taylor, Union, Warren, Wayne, Webster, and Wright. It is ranked 71st by Nielsen Media Research for the 2008–2009 television season with 432,410 television households.
Commercial television stations serving Des Moines include KCCI channel 8, a CBS affiliate; WHO-TV channel 13, an NBC affiliate; KDSM-TV channel 17, a Fox affiliate; ABC affiliate WOI-TV channel 5 broadcasts from studios in West Des Moines; KDMI channel 56, a MyNetworkTV affiliate and broadcasts from Ankeny, Iowa. KCWI-TV channel 23, the local CW affiliate, is licensed to Ames but broadcasts from studios in Ankeny. KFPX channel 39, the local ION affiliate, is licensed to Newton. KDIN channel 11 is the local PBS member station and flagship of the Iowa Public Television network. Mediacom is the Des Moines area's cable television provider.
The Des Moines Register is the city's primary daily newspaper. As of March 31, 2007, the Register ranked 71st in circulation among daily newspapers in the United States according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations with 146,050 daily and 233,229 Sunday subscribers. Weekly newspapers include Juice, a publication aimed at the 25–34 demographic published by the Register on Wednesdays; Cityview, an alternative weekly published on Thursdays; and the Des Moines Business Record, a business journal published on Sundays, along with the West Des Moines Register, the Johnston Register, and the Waukee Register on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays depending on the address of the subscriber. Additionally, magazine publisher Meredith Corporation is based in Des Moines.
Des Moines is home to the Iowa Cubs baseball team of the Pacific Coast League. The I-Cubs, which are the Class AAA team of the major league Chicago Cubs, play their home games at Principal Park near the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. Principal Park is also home to the Iowa High School Athletic Association's state baseball tournaments every summer.
The Wells Fargo Arena of the Iowa Events Center was home to the Iowa Chops (formerly the Iowa Stars) of the American Hockey League from 2005–2009 and has been the home of the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League since 2007. In 2008, the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League league resumed play at Wells Fargo Arena. The Barnstormers previously played at Veterans Memorial Auditorium as members of the Arena Football League from 1995 to 2000, and featured Kurt Warner before he played in the NFL. While the original franchise became the New York Dragons after the 2000 season, the Barnstormers nickname, colors, and uniforms were used for an AF2 franchise that suspended operations after one season in 2001.
Veterans Memorial Auditorium was also home to the Des Moines Dragons of the International Basketball Association from 1997–2001, and was also home to the state high school wrestling and basketball tournaments before they moved to the new Wells Fargo Arena in 2006.
Two other sports teams play in the Des Moines area: the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League play at Buccaneer Arena in Urbandale, while the Des Moines Menace soccer team plays at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.
Des Moines is also home to the famed Drake Relays, which are held at Drake University each April. In addition to the Drake Relays, Drake Stadium hosted the 2008 & 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. It is scheduled to host the 2012 Championships. Drake also hosted the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2010.
The Principal Charity Classic, a Champions Tour golf event, is held at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines every May/June and has been in the community since 2001. The Principal Charity Classic benefits children's charities in Iowa. The Hy-Vee Triathlon, which debuted in 2007, is held every June and served as a qualifier to the Olympic Games in 2008. The IMT Des Moines Marathon is held throughout the city each October.
Des Moines has also been announced as a potential home to an expansion franchise for the United Football League.
See also: List of Des Moines sports teams
Des Moines has 76 city parks and three golf courses, as well as three family aquatic centers, five community centers and three swimming pools. The city has 28 miles (45 km) of trail.
The Principal Riverwalk is a riverwalk park district currently being constructed along the banks of the Des Moines River in the downtown. Principally funded by the Principal Financial Group, the Riverwalk is a multi-year jointly funded project also funded by the city and state. Upon completion, it will feature a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) recreational trail connecting the east and west sides of downtown via two pedestrian bridges. A landscaped promenade along the street level is planned. The Riverwalk includes the downtown Brenton Skating Plaza, open from November through March.
Gray's Lake, part of Gray's Lake Park, features a boat rental facility, fishing pier, floating boardwalks, and a park resource center. Located just south of the downtown, the centerpiece of the park is a lighted trail encircling it entirely. Jester Park has 1,834 acres (742 ha) of land along the western shore of Saylorville Lake.
The Great Western Trail is an 18-mile (29 km) journey between Des Moines and Martensdale to its south.
The Greater Des Moines Sister City Commission, with members from the City of Des Moines and the suburbs of West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Johnston, and Ankeny, maintains sister city relationships with six world communities: