Polk City

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Summary

Polk City lies along the shores of Saylorville lake in Polk County on the north side of the Des Moines metro area. Anchored by a beautiful town square, Polk City has a population of just over 5,500 people and a bustling economy. Saylorville Lake has 6,000 acres of water and 20,000 acres of public land for camping, biking, boating, and wildlife viewing, and hosts multiple events each year, meaning year-round activity for Polk City and its residents and visitors alike.

Transportation

In addition to the many outdoor opportunities around Saylorville Lake, bikers and walkers in Polk City can enjoy beautiful city parks that include multi-use trails, including the one at Leonard Park, which connects to the Neal Smith Trail. There are bike rental stations conveniently located throughout the city to take advantage of the quiet streets and scenic trails. There are several carpooling programs in place in Polk City, and the average one-way commute for residents is 19.4 minutes, well below the national average of 26.4.

Activity & Entertainment

Polk City is situated in a beautiful natural setting and maintains a welcoming small-town feel, although it is close to the Des Moines Metro. It was named an Iowa Great Place in 2023, a prestigious designation recognizing communities dedicated to improving their quality of life and enhancing placemaking. The city is served by the North Polk Community School District, and a small section of the city is in the Ankeny school district.

History

The earliest settlers around Polk City came to the Big Creek area near the remnants of an abandoned Native American village and found rich soil and plentiful resources including a river suitable for powering mills, which were built starting in 1849. The settlement was known as Big Creek Settlement at that time. It was an early contender for county seat before Des Moines was ultimately chosen and continued to add amenities like a school. In 1875 the town was incorporated as Polk City, and in 1883 the bandstand was built that still stands on the town square today. The original schoolhouse building is now City Hall and is one of the longest serving municipal buildings in Iowa.


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