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Des Moines ( ) is the capital and the most populous city in the U.S.marker state of Iowamarker. It is also the county seat of Polk Countymarker. A small portion of the city extends into Warren Countymarker. 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 91st in terms of population in the United States according to 2008 estimates with 556,230 residents according to United States Census Bureau. The city proper population was 198,682 at the 2000 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, 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 Companymarker, Marsh, and Pioneer Hi-Bred have large operations in or near the metro area. Forbes magazine ranked Des Moines as the fourth "Best Place for Business" in 2007. Kiplinger's Personal Finance 2008 Best Cities List featured Des Moines as #9.

Des Moines is an important city in United States presidential politics as the capital of Iowa, which is home to the Iowa caucuses. The Iowa 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."

Origin of name

The French "Des Moines" (pronounced ) translates literally to either "monks" or "of the monks." "Rivière Des Moines" translates to "river of the monks", known today under the anglicized name of Des Moines River. This refers to the French Trappist monks, some of whom lived in huts on top of what is now known as Monks Moundmarker, the largest mound in the Cahokia Moundsmarker complex on the banks of the Mississippi. However, the term could have at one time referred to the river of the Moingona, named after an American Indian tribe that resided in the area.

A more recent hypothesis uses a study of Miami-Illinois tribal names to say the word Moingona, one of the names given to the region, comes from word mooyiinkweena, a derogatory name which translates roughly to "the excrement-faces." The name was seemingly given to Marquette and Joliet by a tribal leader in order to dissuade them from doing business with a neighboring tribe.

However, the creator of this etymology admits it is improbable ("strange" as he puts it), but that is an understatement. It is based on a body of misconceptions that, it must be said, would be unexpected from anyone who professes expertise in the subject. The historical evidence discredits this "excrement face" etymology as anything more than a paronomasia, that is, a play on words that some people find amusing and that is therefore widely repeated.


Prehistoric inhabitants of early Des Moines

Map of prehistoric and historic American Indian sites in Downtown Des Moines.
The juncture of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers has attracted humans for at least 3,000 years. Several prehistoric occupation areas have been identified in downtown Des Moines by archaeologists. At least three Late Prehistoric villages stood in Des Moines, dating from about A.D. 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.


Origin of Fort Des Moines

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.

Early settlement

Excavation of the prehistoric component of the Bird's Run Site in Des Moines.
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 flooded. "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.

Era of growth

On September 22, 1851, it was incorporated as a city with its own charter and was later approved in a vote on October 18. In 1857, the name Fort Des Moines was shortened to Des Moines alone and the state capital was moved from Iowa Citymarker.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. Their 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 mine shaft to reach a 5 foot thick 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.

By 1900, Des Moines was Iowa's largest city with a population of 62,139.

"City Beautiful", industrial decline, and rebirth

The Barney Sakulin cabin moved from Washington County memorializes Fort Des Moines.
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, this effort continued through the 1930s. The old Des Moines Public Library building (now the home of the World Food Prize) and the City Hall are surviving examples, as is the ornate balustrade that still lines the river. 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 six 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 but dropped slightly to 197,052 in 2008. However, the growth of the outlying suburbs has been a constant and the overall metro area population is over 550,000 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 when they had a major levee breach.


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 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 Grandmarker (1991), and the 19-story EMC Insurance Building (1997). This time period also saw the opening of the Civic Center of Greater Des Moinesmarker (1979) which hosts Broadway shows and special events, the Des Moines Botanical Centermarker (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. By the beginning of 2006, the skywalk system was more than three miles (5 km) long and connected most main 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 Centermarker opened in 2005, while the new central branch of the Des Moines Public Library, designed by renowned architect David Chipperfield of Londonmarker, opened on April 8, 2006. The World Food Prize Foundation, which is based in Des Moines, announced in 2001 that it will restore the former Des Moines Public Library building as the Dr. Norman Borlaug/World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. In 2002 the Principal Financial Group and the city announced plans for the Principal Riverwalkmarker, 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 Villagemarker district of shops, studios, and housing between the Capitol district and the Des Moines River.


Des Moines is located at (41.590939, -93.620866). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 77.2 square miles (200.1 km²), of which, 75.8 square miles (196.3 km²) of it is land and 1.5 square miles (3.8 km²) of it (1.88%) is water. In November 2005, Des Moines voters approved a measure that allowed the city to 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.

Metropolitan area

The Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of five central Iowa counties: Polkmarker, Dallasmarker, Warrenmarker, Madisonmarker, and Guthriemarker. The area had a 2000 census population of 481,394 and an estimated 2008 population of 556,230. The Des Moines-Newtonmarker-Pellamarker Combined Statistical Area consists of those five counties plus Jaspermarker and Marionmarker counties; the 2000 census population of this area was 550,659, and the estimated 2008 population was 625,384. Des Moines' suburban communities include Altoonamarker, Ankenymarker, Bondurantmarker, Carlislemarker, Clivemarker, Grimesmarker, Johnstonmarker, Norwalkmarker, Pleasant Hillmarker, Urbandalemarker, Waukeemarker, West Des Moinesmarker, and Windsor Heightsmarker.


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 range, occasionally reaching into the triple digits. 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 zero F quite often. Annual snowfall averages 36.4 inches, and annual rainfall averages 34.72 inches.


At the 2005-2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the city's population was 82.2% White (75.6% non-Hispanic White alone), 9.5% Black or African American, 0.9% American Indian and Alaska Native, 4.2% Asian, 5.6% from some other race and 2.3% from two or more races. 10.2% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. [1041]

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/sq mi (433.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.3% White, 8.07% Black or African American, 0.35% American Indian, 3.50% Asian, 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% Americanmarker 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, Marsh (formerly KVI), EMC Insurance Group, Allied Insurance (now part of Nationwidemarker), AmerUs Group (now part of Aviva), Holmes Murphy, and American Republic Insurance Company. Des Moines has been referred to as the "Hartford of the West" because of this. Principal is one of two Fortune 500 companies that have its 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 Statesmarker.

Other major employers in the area (with more than 1,000 local employees) include Mercy Medical Center, Iowa Health System, MidAmerican Energy Company, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Firestone Agricultural Tire Company, UPSmarker, FBL Financial Group, Qwest, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Hy-Vee supermarkets, John Deere Des Moines Works, John Deere Credit, and CDS Global.

In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked the Des Moines metropolitan area 4th 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.


Arts and theatre

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 Moinesmarker routinely hosts the best Broadway showsmarker 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 six pairs of classical concerts each season, the Symphony also entertains with its Opening Night Gala, New Year's Eve Pops, and its annual Yankee Doodle Pops concerts.

Jazz in July offers free jazz shows daily at various venues throughout the city during the entire month of July. Wells Fargo Arenamarker 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 book local, regional, and national bands. 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. Blues on Grand is a venue for live blues music and was awarded with Blues Club of the Year from the Blues Foundation in 2002. The Funny Bone Comedy Club brings in stand-up comedians from across the nation.

The Des Moines Art Centermarker, 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 nineteenth 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. Other notable art galleries include Salisbury House and Gardens and Hoyt Sherman Place.

Salisbury House and Gardens is a 42-room mansion on 10 acres of woodlands named after the King's House in Salisburymarker, Englandmarker. Built in the 1920s by the Weeks family, the home contains authentic 16th century English oak and rafters dating to Shakespeare's days and a world-class collection of original art, tapestries, and rare books. Special events include Shakespeare on the Lawn, Salisbury Auto Classic, and the Holly and Ivy Tour.

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 nineteenth and twentieth 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.

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 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 Central Library, with its ultramodern, freeform architecture and "organic" roof designed by renowned English architect David Chipperfield.


The Iowa State Capitolmarker is among the most beautiful state capitols in the country. Arising in the east and facing westward toward downtown, the capitol building with its 275-foot, 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 Iowamarker, 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 "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 which 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 Hillmarker, 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 1800s period. It overlooks downtown Des Moines and is situated on eight acres with a re-created Victorian formal garden. Tours are conducted Tuesdays through Saturdays from March through December.

The 110,000 square foot 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 domed Star Theater.

The Des Moines Botanical Centermarker 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.

Blank Park Zoomarker is a beautifully landscaped 22-acre 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 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 Villagemarker, 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 Parkmarker is an amusement park in neighboring Altoonamarker, 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 Meadowsmarker 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 Farmsmarker in suburban Urbandalemarker tells the story of Midwestern agriculture and rural life in a 500-acre 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 Moinesmarker 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.

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."

Festivals and events

Des Moines plays host to a growing number of nationally-acclaimed cultural events, including the annual Des Moines Arts Festival in June, Iowa State Fairmarker 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.

Among 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, Wild Rose Film Festival, and the 80/35 Music Festival. Making its debut in 2008, 80/35 celebrates music, artists, and fans with such acts as The Flaming Lips.



Des Moines Municipal Building
Des Moines currently operates under a council-manager form of government. The council consists of a mayor (who, as of 2009, 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.


Kruidenier Trail bridge across Gray's Lake

Most residents of Des Moines get around the region by car. Interstate 235 cuts through the city, and Interstate 35 and Interstate 80 both pass through the Des Moines metropolitan area. North 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 in that missing an exit at the mixmasters, eventually the traveller will end up at the junction of all 3 interstates at the opposite side of the metro. The Iowa DOT has completed the Interstate 235 expansion project. The freeway is six lanes throughout the entire length and expands to eight and ten lanes near the downtown area. Most traffic congestion in the area occurs near the Northeast and West Mixmasters on either side of Des Moines where Interstates 35, 80, and 235 converge on one another as well as Interstate 235 west of downtown Des Moines in either direction. Interstate 235 takes the brunt of most congestion during rush hours. 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.

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-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. The nearest Amtrak train station is in Osceolamarker, about 40 miles (64 km) south of Des Moines. Trains on the route that passes through Osceola, the California Zephyr, go east to Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker, and as far west as Oaklandmarker, Californiamarker.

The Des Moines International Airportmarker (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 (Eastmarker, Hoovermarker, Lincolnmarker, Northmarker, and Rooseveltmarker), and ten special schools and programs. Small parts of the city are also served by Southeast Polkmarker and Saydel. Private schools in the city include Grand View Park Baptist and the Des Moines Christian Schoolmarker.

Des Moines is also home to the main campuses of two four-year private colleges: Drake Universitymarker and Grand View Universitymarker. Simpson Collegemarker, Upper Iowa Universitymarker, and William Penn Universitymarker 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 Businessmarker and Des Moines Universitymarker, an osteopathic medical school.


The Des Moines market, which consists of Polkmarker, Dallasmarker, Storymarker, and Warrenmarker counties, was ranked 91st by Arbitron as of the fall of 2007 with a population of 512,000 aged 12 and older.


Commercial stations

Non-commercial stations

Non-commercial radio stations in the Des Moines area include KDPSmarker 88.1 FM, a station operated by the Des Moines Public Schools; KWDM 88.7 FM, a station operated by Valley High Schoolmarker; KJMCmarker 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 Universitymarker in Ames and serve as the area's National Public Radio outlets.Low-power FM stations include Drake Universitymarker's KDRA-LPmarker and Grand View Universitymarker'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.


The Des Moines-Ames media market consists of 35 central Iowa counties: Adairmarker, Adamsmarker, Appanoosemarker, Audubonmarker, Boonemarker, Calhounmarker, Carrollmarker, Clarkemarker, Dallasmarker, Decaturmarker, Franklinmarker, Greenemarker, Guthriemarker, Hamiltonmarker, Hardinmarker, Humboldtmarker, Jaspermarker, Kossuthmarker, Lucasmarker, Madisonmarker, Mahaskamarker, Marionmarker, Marshallmarker, Monroemarker, Pocahontasmarker, Polkmarker, Poweshiekmarker, Ringgoldmarker, Storymarker, Taylormarker, Unionmarker, Warrenmarker, Waynemarker, Webstermarker, and Wrightmarker. 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 KCCImarker channel 8, a CBS affiliate; WHO-TVmarker channel 13, an NBC affiliate; KDSM-TVmarker channel 17, a Fox affiliate; and KDMImarker channel 56, a MyNetworkTV affiliate that only has a digital signal. ABC affiliate WOI-TVmarker channel 5 is licensed to Ames and was owned by Iowa State Universitymarker until 1994. It currently broadcasts from studios in West Des Moinesmarker. KCWI-TVmarker channel 23, the local CW affiliate, is also licensed to Ames but broadcasts from studios in Ankenymarker. KFPXmarker channel 39, the local ION affiliate, is licensed to Newtonmarker. 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 he West Des Moines Register, the Johnston Register, and the Waukee Register on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays depending on the address of the subscriber.


Des Moines has a large presence on the internet, which is highlighted by their community page on MySpace, forum posts on and blog posts on;

Sports and recreation


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 Parkmarker 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 Arenamarker of the Iowa Events Center has been home to the Iowa Chops (formerly the Iowa Stars) of the American Hockey League since 2005 and the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League since 2007. In 2008, the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football 1 league resumed play at Wells Fargo Arena. The Barnstormers previously played at Veterans Memorial Auditoriummarker as members of the Arena Football League from 1995 to 2000. 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 Arenamarker in Urbandalemarker, while the Des Moines Menace soccer team plays at Valley Stadium in West Des Moinesmarker.

Des Moines is also home to the famed Drake Relays, which are held at Drake Universitymarker each April. In addition to the Drake Relays, Drake Stadiummarker hosted the 2008 NCAA Track & Field Championships and will host 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.
Club League Venue Established Championships
Iowa Cubs PCL, Baseball Principal Parkmarker 1969 1
Iowa Chops AHL, Ice hockey Wells Fargo Arenamarker 2008 0
Iowa Barnstormers Arena Football 1, Arena football Wells Fargo Arenamarker 1995 (re-established 2008) 0
Iowa Energy D-League, Basketball Wells Fargo Arenamarker 2007 0
Des Moines Menace PDL, Soccer Valley Stadium 1994 1
Des Moines Buccaneers USHL, Hockey Buccaneer Arenamarker 1981 4


Des Moines' 53 city parks offer a variety of recreation facilities including hiking, biking, picnicking, swimming, and tennis. The city boasts three golf courses, three family aquatic centers, five community centers, three swimming pools, and 28 miles of trail for walking, running, or biking.

The Principal Riverwalkmarker is a riverwalk park district currently being constructed along the banks of the Des Moines River in the downtown. Spearheaded by the Principal Financial Group, the Riverwalk is a multi-year, jointly funded project between the City of Des Moines, State of Iowa, and The Principal. Upon completion, it will feature a 1.2 mile 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 Brenton Skating Plaza. From November through March, the outdoor skating rink is open as a skating mecca for central Iowans. Located downtown along the east bank of the Des Moines River, the plaza is available for parties, social events, movies, concerts, and summer sand volleyball during the warmer months of the year.

Gray's Lake, as part of popular 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 the entire park.

Jester Park, another locals' favorite, offers diverse recreational experiences for visitors on 1,834 acres of land along the western shore of Saylorville Lakemarker. Camping, fishing, golfing, horseback riding, hiking, hunting, and picnicking are among the myriad of activities offered. The park also includes an accessible playground and is the home of the Jester Park Lodge.

The Great Western Trail is an 18-mile journey from Des Moines to Martensdalemarker and full of adventure for the nature enthusiast, the history buff, and for those who want to put on their hiking boots or hop on a bicycle.

Sister cities

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:

See also


External links

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