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City of Iowa City
—  City  —
Clinton St., Iowa City

Location in the state of Iowa
Coordinates: 41°39′21″N 91°31′30″W / 41.65583°N 91.525°W / 41.65583; -91.525Coordinates: 41°39′21″N 91°31′30″W / 41.65583°N 91.525°W / 41.65583; -91.525
Country  United States
State  Iowa
County Johnson
Metro Iowa City Metropolitan Area
 - Type Council-manager government
 - Mayor Matt Hayek
 - City Manager Dale Helling (acting)
 - City 24.4 sq mi (63.3 km2)
 - Land 24.2 sq mi (62.6 km2)
 - Water 0.3 sq mi (0.7 km2)
Elevation 668 ft (203.6 m)
Population (2008 est.)
 - City 67,831
 - Density 2,748.4/sq mi (1,059.4/km2)
 - Metro 149,437
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 52240-52246
Area code(s) 319
FIPS code 19-38595
GNIS feature ID 0457827

Iowa City is a city in Johnson County, Iowa, United States. As of the 2008 census estimate, the city had a total population of 67,831 making it the fifth-largest city in Iowa.[1] It is the county seat of Johnson County[2] and the home of the University of Iowa. It is located adjacent to Coralville and surrounds University Heights, with which it forms a contiguous urban area. It is the principal city of the Iowa City, Iowa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses Johnson and Washington counties and has a population of 149,437.[3]

Iowa City was the second capital of the Iowa Territory and the first capital of the State of Iowa. The Old Capitol building is a National Historic Landmark and stands as a tourist attraction in the center of the University of Iowa campus as well as being an integral part of the university's Pentacrest. The University of Iowa Art Museum and Plum Grove, home of the first governor of Iowa, are other tourist attractions. In 2008, Forbes Magazine named Iowa City the second Best Small Metropolitan Area for doing business in the United States.[4]



Iowa City was created by an act of Legislative Assembly of the Iowa Territory on January 21, 1839, fulfilling the desire of Governor Robert Lucas to move the capital out of Burlington and closer to the center of the territory. The act began,

"An Act to locate the Seat of Government of the Territory of soon as the place shall be selected, and the consent of the United States obtained, the commissioners shall proceed to lay out a town to be called "Iowa City".[5]

A bird's-eye view map of Iowa City circa 1868.

Commissioners Chauncey Swan and John Ronalds met on May 1 in the small settlement of Napoleon, south of present-day Iowa City, to select a site for the new capital city. The following day the commissioners selected a site on bluffs above the Iowa River north of Napoleon, placed a stake in the center of the proposed site and began planning the new capital city. Commissioner Swan, in a report to the legislature in Burlington, described the site:

"Iowa City is located on a section of land laying in the form of an amphitheater. There is an eminence on the west near the river, running parallel with it." [6]

By June of that year, the town had been platted and surveyed from Brown St. in the north to Burlington St. in the south, and from the Iowa River eastward to Governor St.

While Iowa City was selected as the territorial capital in 1839, it did not officially become the capital city until 1841; after construction on the capitol building had begun. The capitol building was completed in 1842, and the last four territorial legislatures and the first six Iowa General Assemblies met there until 1876, when the state capital was moved to Des Moines.[7]


2006 tornado

On the evening of April 13, 2006, a confirmed EF2 tornado struck Iowa City, causing severe property damage and displacing many from their homes, including many University of Iowa students. It was the first tornado ever recorded to hit the city directly. No serious injuries were reported in the Iowa City area, but one person in rural Muscatine County died in a related storm.

A popular Dairy Queen which had been in business for 54 years was a victim of the storm (but was reopened in late September), along with two large car dealerships, and several other businesses along Riverside Drive and Iowa Highway 1. The 134-year-old Saint Patrick's Catholic Church was heavily damaged only minutes after Holy Thursday Mass, with most of its roof destroyed. The building was ruled a total loss and has since been demolished. The downtown business district as well as the eastern residential area and several parks suffered scattered damage of varying degree.

Additionally, several houses in the sorority row area were destroyed. The Alpha Chi Omega house was nearly destroyed, though no one was injured and the building was later razed. Cleanup efforts were under way almost immediately as local law enforcement, volunteer workers from all over the state, and Iowa City residents and college students worked together to restore the city. The total cost of damage was estimated at around $12 million.

2008 Flood

The University of Iowa Museum of Modern Art on North Riverside Drive during the height of the flood.

A local newspaper reported on June 11, 2008, that water exceeded the emergency spillway at the Coralville Reservoir outside of Iowa City.[8] As a result, the City of Iowa City and the University of Iowa were seriously affected by unprecedented flooding of the Iowa River, which caused widespread property damage and forced evacuations in large sections of the city. By Friday, June 13, 2008, the Iowa River had risen to a record level of 30.46 ft. (5:00 PM CST) with a crest of approximately 33 ft. predicted for Wednesday, June 18, 2008. Much of the city’s 500-year flood plain saw mild to catastrophic effects of the rapidly flowing, polluted water. Officials at the University of Iowa reported that up to 19 buildings were affected by rising waters. Extensive efforts to move materials from the University’s main library were undertaken as large groups of sandbagging volunteers began to construct a massive levee near the building. Approximately $300 million worth of art, including work by Picasso, owned by the University was secretly moved to a holding place in the Chicago area before the fine arts area was heavily hit with flood water.

On Friday, June 13, University employees were encouraged to stay home, and travel was strongly discouraged in Iowa City; one city statement advised, "If you live in east Iowa City, stay in east Iowa City; if you live in west Iowa City, stay in west Iowa City." The Burlington St. bridge was the only bridge that remained open, other than the I-80 bridge on the edge of town, to connect the east and west sides of the Iowa River. On Saturday, June 14, officials at the University of Iowa began to power down the University's primary power generating plant along the Iowa River to prevent structural damage. Backup units continued to provide necessary power and steam services for essential University services, including the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Water began touching the bottom of the Park St. bridge forcing the Army Corp. of Engineers to drill several holes in the bridge to allow air trapped underneath to escape. Also on Saturday, Mayor Regenia Bailey issued a curfew restricting anyone except those authorized by law enforcement from being within 100 yards of any area affected by the flood between 8:30 PM and 6 AM.

Geography and climate

Iowa City is located along the Iowa River.

The city has a total area of 24.4 square miles (63.3 km²), of which, 24.2 square miles (62.6 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.7 km²) of it (1.15%) is water.

The elevation at the Iowa City Municipal Airport is 668 ft. (203.6 m) above sea level.

Weather data for Iowa City, Iowa
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 32
Average low °F (°C) 15
Precipitation inches (cm) 1.5
Source: Weatherbase[9] 2008-07-14


Historical Populations
Year Pop.  %±
1850 1,250
1860 5,214 317.1%
1870 5,914 13.4%
1880 7,123 20.4%
1890 7,016 −1.5%
1900 7,987 13.8%
1910 10,091 26.3%
1920 11,267 11.7%
1930 15,340 36.1%
1940 17,182 12.0%
1950 27,212 58.4%
1960 33,443 22.9%
1970 46,850 40.1%
1980 50,508 7.8%
1990 59,735 18.3%
2000 62,220 4.2%
2008 67,831 9.0%
Source:"American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau.   and Iowa Data Center

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 58,830 people, 25,202 households, and 11,189 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,575.0 people per square mile (994.3/km²). There were 26,083 housing units at an average density of 1,079.4/sq mi (416.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.33% White, 3.75% African American, 0.31% American Indian, 5.64% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.25% from other races, and 1.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.95% of the population.

There were 25,202 households out of which 21.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 2% were households with same-sex couples (2000 U.S. Census), 3.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 55.6% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 16.2% under the age of 18, 32.8% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 7.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,977, and the median income for a family was $57,568. Males had a median income of $35,435 versus $28,981 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,269. About 2.7% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.2% of those under age 18 and 3.0% of those age 65 or over.

Iowa City is commonly known as a "college town". It is home to the University of Iowa and a small campus for Kirkwood Community College. The population increases during the months when the two schools are in session.

Iowa City is tied with Stamford, Connecticut, for the US metropolitan area with the highest percentage of the adult population holding a bachelor's degree or higher; 44 percent of adults hold a degree.

Metropolitan area

The Iowa City Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of Johnson and Washington counties in Iowa; Washington County was added to the MSA after the 2000 census. It had a 2000 census population of 131,676, and a 2008 estimated population of 149,437.[3]

Iowa City is flanked by Coralville and North Liberty. University Heights is completely contained within the boundaries of Iowa City, near Kinnick Stadium. Tiffin, Solon, and Hills are other small towns within a few miles.

Iowa City is one of the two namesakes of the "Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Technology Corridor", which includes the above communities plus Linn, Benton, and Jones counties. This area had a 2008 estimated population of 404,889.[11]


Iowa City City Hall

According to the City Charter Iowa City is governed by an elected city council of seven members: four council members at large and three district members. The two council members at large who receive the most votes and the three district council members serve four year terms. The other two council members at large serve two year terms. A mayor and mayor pro tem are elected by the council from within its members to serve terms of two years. Current Iowa City Council members are:

  • Matt Hayek (Mayor, At-Large)
  • Ross Wilburn (Mayor Pro Tem, District A)
  • Connie Champion (District B)
  • Regenia Bailey (District C)
  • Mike Wright (At-Large)
  • Terry Dickens (At-Large)
  • Susan Mims (At-Large)

Under this form of council-manager government the powers of the city are vested in the city council. The council is responsible for appointing the city manager (currently acting City Manager Dale Helling) who implements the policy decisions of the city council, enforces city ordinances and appoints city officials. The council also appoints the city attorney and city clerk.[12]

Iowa City is unique in that it is one of only four cities in Iowa in which the mayor is chosen by the city council. The mayor of Iowa City serves a two-year term and has a vote on council, representing the district or at-large position from which he or she was elected. The mayor is primarily a figurehead or a "first among equals", with some power to set agendas and lead meetings, as well as serving as the public face of city government. [13]


Old Capitol Building in February 2005

Iowa City has a variety of cultural offerings. It has a strong literary history and is the home of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, whose graduates include John Irving, Flannery O'Connor, T.C. Boyle and many other prominent American authors; the nation's leading Non-Fiction Writing Program; the Iowa Playwrights Workshop; the Iowa Summer Writing Festival; and the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated International Writing Program, a unique residency program that has hosted writers from more than 120 countries.

This literary heritage is also shown in the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk, a series of bronze relief panels that feature authors' words as well as attribution. The panels are visually connected by a series of general quotations about books and writing stamped into the concrete sidewalk. All 49 authors and playwrights featured in the Literary Walk have ties to Iowa.

In November 2008 UNESCO designated Iowa City as the world's third City of Literature, making it a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City also sponsors a variety of events in the Summer of the Arts program. These include a nationally renowned jazz festival, a festival of the arts, open-air summer movies and free concerts every Friday night in the pedestrian mall (Ped Mall).[14] In 2007 in conjunction with the Summer of the Arts program the Landlocked Film Festival was founded. In 2009, due to the success of the film festival, it became an independent organization. The Landlocked Film Festival and many of the Summer of the Arts' events are held at the historic Iowa City Englert Theatre.

In 2004, the Old Capitol Cultural District was one of the first Cultural Districts certified by the State of Iowa. The district extends from the University of Iowa Pentacrest, south to the Johnson County Courthouse, east to College Green Park, and north into the historic Northside Neighborhood.

In 2004. Forbes Magazine named Iowa City the third Best Small Metropolitan Area in the United States.[15] Utne Reader ranked Iowa City eighth in its 1997 survey of "America's 10 Most Enlightened Towns".[16]

In June 2006, Kiplinger's Personal Finance rated Iowa City #10 on its list of the Top 50 Smart Places to Live. [1]

The Iowa Biennial Exhibition [TIBE] [2] began in 2004 as an international survey of contemporary miniature printmaking held its initial exhibition at the University of Iowa. The 2006 [3] exhibition, currently underway, received a 2007 "ICKY" award nomination in Visual Arts Programming from the Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance for its exhibition at the University of Iowa’s Project Art Gallery.

Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), the state's only comprehensive tertiary care medical center. The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center in Iowa City is an NCI-designated Cancer Center, one of fewer than 60 in the country.[17]

In the fall of 2001, the cupola of the Old Capitol caught fire during the renovation of its gold leaf dome. The cupola was destroyed and the building was heavily damaged. In 2006, after an extensive restoration, the building re-opened to the public as it appeared during the time Iowa City was the state capital. The building now serves as the Old Capitol Museum, as well as a venue for speeches, lectures, press conferences and performances in the original state senate chamber.

Local Landmarks

Black Angel, Oakland Cemetery.
  • Hancher Auditorium often hosts nationally touring theater, dance and musical shows, and has commissioned more than 100 works of music, theater and dance during the last 20 years. This facility was badly damaged during the Iowa flood of 2008. As of 2009, there are no plan to renovate or restore the landmark theater.
  • Hamburg Inn is a favorite campaign stop for political candidates. It was featured in a 2005 episode of the political drama The West Wing. It has also been a favored campaign stop for many U.S. Presidents, including Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. It was featured in The New York Times for its widely renowned "pie shakes."
  • ACT college testing services is headquartered in Iowa City.
  • Oakland Cemetery contains graves of notable locals as well as the beloved "Black Angel" statue.
  • Hickory Hill Park is a large natural area on the north side of town.
  • Plum Grove Historic House was the residence of Robert Lucas, the first territorial governor of Iowa, and the novelist Eleanor Hoyt Brainerd.
  • Moffitt cottages, built in a unique vernacular architectural style, are scattered around eastern Iowa City. "These mystical dwellings look as if Germanic elves constructed houses for Irish pixies," is how one writer described them.[18]

Some of the National Register of Historic Places in Iowa City

Pedestrian Mall

City Plaza (commonly called the "Pedestrian Mall" or simply "Ped Mall") serves as a gathering place for students and locals and draws large crowds for its summertime events such as the Friday Night Concert Series and the annual Iowa City Jazz Festival and Iowa City Arts Festival. The Ped Mall area contains restaurants, bars, retail, hotels, and the Iowa City Public Library. It is known for its appeal to various local artists and musicians.


Iowa City has a general aviation airport - the Iowa City Municipal Airport - on the south side of the city. The nearest airport with passenger service is The Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, about 20 miles to the northwest via Interstate 380.

Interstate 80 runs east-west along the north edge of Iowa City. U.S. Highway 218 and Iowa Highway 27 (the Avenue of the Saints) are co-signed along a freeway bypassing Iowa City to the west. U.S. Highway 6 and Iowa Highway 1 also run through Iowa City.

Iowa City is served by the freight-only Iowa Interstate Railroad and the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway (CRANDIC). The historic Iowa City Depot, shown in the picture at left, is no longer in use for railway services; it has been modified into a commercial office building.

Iowa City Transit[4], Coralville Transit[5], and the University of Iowa's "Cambus" system[6] provide public transportation.


Bas-relief, old Press-Citizen newspaper building.

Three radio stations are based out of the University of Iowa. Two have become part of the statewide Iowa Public Radio network: WSUI 910 AM, a National Public Radio affiliate and originator of some Iowa Public Radio news and talk programming; and KSUI 91.7 FM, which broadcasts classical music and concerts by Iowa classical orchestras, opera companies, and other artists, as well as interviews. KRUI 89.7 FM is the University's student-run radio station.

Clear Channel Communications owns two of the Iowa City area's commercial radio stations: KXIC 800 AM, a news/talk station, and KKRQ 100.7 FM, a classic rock station.[19] KCJJ 1630 AM is an independently-owned, 10,000-watt talk radio and hot adult contemporary station that broadcasts from studios in Coralville. Another Iowa City-licensed station, KRNA 94.1 FM, now broadcasts from Cedar Rapids and is operated by Cumulus Media. Radio signals from other cities, including Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities, also reach the Iowa City area.[20]

Over the years the city has also been host to a number of pirate stations, from mobile transmitters to attic studios. The strongest station currently operates under the moniker Radio Iowa City at 87.9 MHz.

Iowa City and Johnson County are part of the Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City-Dubuque media market, which was ranked 87th by Nielsen Media Research for the 2007-2008 TV season.[21] Two television stations, KIIN channel 12 (PBS) and KWKB channel 20 (CW and MyNetwork TV), are licensed to Iowa City.[22] KCRG-TV 9, the ABC affiliate in Cedar Rapids, maintains a news bureau at Old Capitol Mall in downtown Iowa City.[23]

Mediacom, the local cable television company, provides seven public, education, and government access channels in Iowa City: City Channel 4, Infovision (channel 5), the Iowa City Public Library Channel (channel 10), Kirkwood Television Services (channel 11), University of Iowa Television (channel 17), Public Access Television (channel 18), and the Iowa City Community School District's channel 21.[24]

Two daily newspapers are published in Iowa City. The Iowa City Press-Citizen, owned by Gannett, publishes seven days a week with a Sunday edition that is packaged with Gannett's Des Moines Sunday Register. The Daily Iowan, an independent newspaper based at the University of Iowa, publishes Monday through Friday while classes are in session. In addition, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids maintains a news bureau in Iowa City.


City High bell tower.

Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa's athletic teams, known as the Iowa Hawkeyes. A member of the Big Ten Conference, the football team plays at Kinnick Stadium, while men's and women's basketball, volleyball, and the wrestling teams compete at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa City's two public high schools, City and West, are members of the Mississippi Valley Conference.

Notable people from Iowa City

See also


  1. ^ "Population Estimates and Rankings for Population, Numerical Change, and Percent Change for Iowa's Incorporated Places: 2000-2008" (PDF). Iowa Data Center. Retrieved 2009-07-11.  
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  3. ^ a b United States Census Bureau. "Cumulative Estimates of Population Change for Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Rankings: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008". Retrieved 2009-07-11.  
  4. ^ #2 Iowa City IA -
  5. ^ Benjamin F. Shambaugh (1893) Iowa City: A Contribution to the Early History of Iowa State Historical Society of Iowa p17-36.
  6. ^ Gerald Manshiem (1989) Iowa City: An Illustrated History The Donning Co, Publishers p 25.
  7. ^ "Iowa Old Capitol". Retrieved August 12, 2008.  
  8. ^ River, reservoir continue to rise; No end in sight | | Iowa City Press Citizen
  9. ^ "Iowa City, Iowa". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2008-07-14.  
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  11. ^ Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Technology Corridor. "Welcome to the Corridor!". Retrieved 2007-05-29.  
  12. ^ Sterling Codifiers, Inc
  13. ^ "Iowa City unusual in how it picks mayor". Retrieved 2010-01-09.  
  14. ^ Iowa City’s Summer of the Arts
  15. ^ Forbes Best Small Places 2004
  16. ^ Jay Walljasper (May/June 1997). "Iowa City, Iowa : American Eclectic". Utne Reader. Archived from the original on 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2009-05-17.  
  17. ^ NCI designation, from the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center Website. Accessed April 7, 2007.
  18. ^ Brown-Link, Linda (1992) Affordable Housing and True Artistry. The Palimpsest: Iowa's Popular History Magazine 73(4):160.
  19. ^ Clear Channel Communications. "Radio: Station Search". Retrieved 2008-01-13.  
  20. ^ "Dial Guides". Retrieved 2008-01-13.  
  21. ^ Nielsen Media Research. "Local Television Market Universe Estimates" (XLS). Retrieved 2008-01-13.  
  22. ^ "Iowa TV markets". Retrieved 2008-01-13.  
  23. ^ KCRG-TV. "Contact Us". Retrieved 2008-01-13.  
  24. ^ City of Iowa City. "City Channel 4: Local Channel Lineup". Retrieved 2008-01-13.  

External links

Simple English

Iowa City is a city of Iowa in the United States and county seat of Johnson County, Iowa. It was the first capital city of Iowa, before the capital was moved to Des Moines. It is also the home of the University of Iowa.


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