Des Moines

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Summary

Crowned by the gold dome of the Capitol Building, Des Moines is the thriving capital city of Iowa. Hailed in survey after survey as one of the best places to live and work in the US, Des Moines is one of the most sustainable cities in the country. Surrounded by farm fields and natural beauty and centered around the confluence of the Des Moines and Racoon Rivers, the city sits at the crossroads of Interstate Highways 35 and 80, taking full advantage of this central location for trade. As a hub of business and industry, Des Moines has the bustling economy and vibrant arts and entertainment scene of a big city, while maintaining much of that small town ‘Iowa Nice’ feel.

Transportation

Many Des Moines neighborhoods are rated highly walkable, including the Downtown area, and cyclists and walkers enjoy over 800 miles of trails throughout the city. The Des Moines Regional Transit Authority (DART) provides bus service across the metro area, including a free downtown shuttle. Commutes in the Des Moines metro are some of the shortest in the nation, averaging 20 minutes or less one way, compared to the 26.4 national average.

Activity & Entertainment

Des Moines has a relaxed and engaging quality of life that has earned high rankings for residents of any age or stage in life. At the center of Iowa’s push toward sustainability, Des Moines is also safe and affordable, with a welcoming spirit of inclusion. The Des Moines’ restaurant scene has something for everyone—from locally grown cuisine to world class BBQ and global flavors. Numerous retail districts across the city offer everything from national brands to local boutiques, and the famous downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market is a hot spot Saturdays between April and October. The iconic Iowa State Fair each August provides ten days of quintessential Iowan culture, industry, food, arts and entertainment and is the highlight of the summer, if not the year. With several museums, a botanical center, zoo, and three professional sports teams, there is something for everyone to enjoy at any time of year! The city also offers top-notch education from pre-school through university and a growing jobs market in step with the needs of the future to support new generations of Iowans and their industry.

History

The Des Moines area was home to the indigenous Ioway people for many centuries, although the origins of the name ‘Des Moines’ lie with another tribe—the Mingwena, a branch of the now vanished Illinois people—which lived further east where the Des Moines River joins the Mississippi. Originally built as a fort in the 1840s, Des Moines started as a cluster of buildings on the prairie destroyed by flood in 1851. Later that year, the city was incorporated, designated as the state capital, and rebuilt. During the second half of the 19th century, coal mining was a major industry, which was mostly mined out by the 1920s. At the turn of the century, a ‘City Beautiful’ campaign resulted in several Beaux Arts-style public buildings being erected, including the State Capitol Building, the US Post Office, and the former Des Moines Public Library, now the home of the World Food Prize. The ornate river balustrades still gracing Downtown were built by the federal Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The city has rebounded after a decline that lasted until the 1980s and is today a center of the Insurance industry and a leader in sustainable, centrally planned urban growth.


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