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Mason City, Iowa
—  City  —
Location of Mason City, Iowa
Coordinates: 43°8′55″N 93°12′7″W / 43.14861°N 93.20194°W / 43.14861; -93.20194
Country  United States
State  Iowa
County Cerro Gordo
 - Total 26.2 sq mi (67.8 km2)
 - Land 25.8 sq mi (66.8 km2)
 - Water 0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2)
Elevation 1,129 ft (344 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 29,172
 - Density 1,131.3/sq mi (436.8/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 50401, 50402, 50467
Area code(s) 641
FIPS code 19-50160
GNIS feature ID 0458840

Mason City is a city in and the county seat of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, United States.[1] The population was 29,172 at the 2000 census.

The Mason City Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Cerro Gordo and Worth counties.



Mason City is located at 43°8′55″N 93°12′7″W / 43.14861°N 93.20194°W / 43.14861; -93.20194 (43.148747, -93.201916)[2].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.2 square miles (67.8 km²), of which, 25.8 square miles (66.8 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²) of it (1.45%) is water.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1870 1,183
1880 2,510 112.2%
1890 4,007 59.6%
1900 6,747 68.4%
1910 11,230 66.4%
1920 20,065 78.7%
1930 23,304 16.1%
1940 27,080 16.2%
1950 27,980 3.3%
1960 30,642 9.5%
1970 30,379 −0.9%
1980 30,144 −0.8%
1990 29,040 −3.7%
2000 29,172 0.5%

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 29,172 people, 12,368 households, and 7,507 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,131.3 people per square mile (436.7/km²). There were 13,029 housing units at an average density of 505.3/sq mi (195.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.40% White, 1.17% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.77% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.07% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.45% of the population.

There were 12,368 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.3% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,852, and the median income for a family was $45,160. Males had a median income of $32,451 versus $21,756 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,899. About 7.2% of families and 10.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.

Architecture and the Prairie School

The historic and endangered Len Jus Building.

Mason City is widely known for its sizable amount of Prairie School architecture, the largest concentration in one location outside of Oak Park, Illinois. A number of architects from the Prairie School movement designed both commercial and residential buildings in Mason City in the early 1900s, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The most notable architect to have worked in Mason City is Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright designed the Park Inn Hotel and City National Bank in 1909 on State and Federal Avenues in downtown Mason City. The Park Inn Hotel is the only remaining Frank Lloyd Wright designed hotel in the world. Wright designed just six hotels and two banks during his career. The Park Inn Hotel served as the prototype for the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, which was torn down in 1962. The hotel influenced Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and other European Modern architects. After decades of deterioration and vacancy, the hotel is in the process of being restored and is the recipient grants from the National Park Service Save America's Treasures grant and grant from the State of Iowa.

The Dr. G.C. Stockman House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1908 for Dr. George and Eleanor Stockman. It was fully restored and is open to the public and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It features numerous authentic period furnishings and reproduction pieces.

The Rock Glen and Rock Crest National Historic district is a small enclave of single-family homes situated along the banks of Willow Creek five blocks east of downtown. It is the largest collection of prairie style homes in a natural setting in the world. It features both Prairie School and Usonian design. Five of these homes were designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, two by Francis Barry Byrne, and also William Drummond, Einar Broaten and Curtis Besinger.

The Mason City Public Library was designed by Chicago architects Holabird and Root in 1939.

The Len Jus Building on North Federal Avenue has an extremely rare sheet-metal facade, it has been placed on the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance’s Most Endangered list because of its poor repair and indifferent ownership.[4][5]

Musical Heritage

Mason City, above all else is known for its outstanding musical heritage, consistently producing successful performers and educators. Mason City's "favorite son" Meredith Willson grew up in Mason City, having played in the Mason City Symphonic Band as a student at Mason City High School. Willson's crowning achievement was the famous musical The Music Man. The show first opened on Broadway in 1957 and became a hit, with a three year run at the Majestic Theatre, followed by an additional 1,375 performances at the Broadway Theatre. The Music Man has received numerous awards, including 9 Tony Awards in 1957.

In late May or early June Mason City holds an annual celebration of its musical heritage called The North Iowa Band Festival. Bands from across the midwest compete en route of the parade to be named the best band. The home band, Mason City High School Marching Band, does not compete but does perform in the parade.


There are 13 schools in Mason City. Harding Elementary, Hoover Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary, John Adams Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, Mason City High School, Mason City Alternative High School, Madison Early Childhood Center, Washington Early Childhood Center, Newman Catholic Elementary/Middle School, Newman Catholic High School, and North Iowa Christian School.

Mason City is home to several institutions of higher education, including the North Iowa Area Community College, a branch of Buena Vista University and Kaplan University.


The city is served by Iowa Highway 122, and U.S. Highway 65. U.S. Highway 18 now bypasses the city to the south. Interstate 35 (eight miles to the west) serves the city as well.

Mason City is home to the Iowa Traction Railroad. The IATR is one of the last surviving electric interurban railroads in the U. S., and the only one that still uses electric locomotives to haul freight in regular service.

The city also has a municipal airport, from which Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper took off on the night of February 3, 1959 after a concert at the Surf Ballroom in nearby Clear Lake, Iowa, only to crash in a historic event later referred to as the Day the Music Died.


Mason City has some history of minor league sports teams despite its relatively small size.

The North Iowa Outlaws junior hockey team began play in the North American Hockey League in 2005. The former North Iowa Huskies played in the United States Hockey League until 1999.

The Mason City Bats of the very short lived Great Central League played baseball here in 1994.


The largest employer is Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa. Other major industry includes door manufacturer Curries/Graham Company and the Kraft Foods plant that produces the nation's entire supply of refrigerated ready-to-eat Jell-O gelatin and Jell-O pudding snacks. Mason City is also a major production center for Portland Cement. In November 2007, Reyes Holding / Martin-Brower opened a distribution facility serving McDonald in 5 states. [1]


Notable natives

Brother and sister Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger make up the band The Fiery Furnaces.

  • Tom Corley - President of Kraft Foods

Sister City

Mason City, Iowa, and Montegrotto Terme, Italy, created a Sister City relationship in the spring of 2005. This relationship creates a bridge between the two cities that citizens can use to build new and lasting friendships and relationships.


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  2. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  4. ^ Cedar Rapids Gazette, Cedar Rapids historic buildings make 'most endangered' list:
  5. ^ Iowa’s Most Endangered Properties,

External links



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