As the state capital, Des Moines soon became a growing center of government action, business activity and cultural affairs and is still known as a bustling regional hub. It is a sophisticated city with a world-class art center, symphony orchestra and ballet. The Fort Des Moines Museum (site of the first Women’s Auxiliary Corps and the first black officers’ training center), a hands-on Science Center and the Historical Museum are other popular attractions. The Iowa State Fair, Hoopin’ at the Dome and the Mayor’s Annual 15-Mile Ride are fun traditional events held every year in Des Moines.
Fort Des Moines was established in 1843 when Captain James Allen and a company of “dragoons” arrived to build a military garrison. The origin of the name “Des Moines” is unclear but historians believe that the name initially referred to the river, which French voyagers called “La Riviere des Moines.” The city was designated the capital of Iowa in 1857 and its name was shortened to Des Moines. Sec Taylor Stadium is now located on the site of the original Fort.
The Des Moines Art Festival - first held in 1998 - has rapidly become the state’s most highly regarded arts event. Ranked by the 2002 ArtFair SourceBook as the 6th best arts festival in the country, this free event features works in a wide range of media by artists from all over the country. In addition to checking out the art, visitors can browse through information about local non-profit organizations and enjoy food, beverages and live entertainment.
Des Moines is also an avid sports town. The outdoor Sleepy Hollow Sports Park is open year-round, while Prairie Meadows is a great place for horse racing and slots action. There are three municipal golf courses: A.H. Blank, Grand View and Waveland. Fans can also catch a Buccaneers hockey game, watch the Menace play soccer or take in a Cubs baseball game. The Blank Park Zoo and Botanical Center also make for a nice afternoon outdoors.
The Des Moines Public School System provides excellent programs for students of all ages. Preschool and childcare programs are available, and the teacher-student ratio in grades K-5 is 22:6. The district also focuses on providing technological education to middle and high school students. Programs are also available to meet the needs of gifted and talented and special-needs students.
Commerce and Jobs
Iowa’s capital city is also home to a bustling and thriving economy. Ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the nation’s best places for businesses and careers, Des Moines provides residents and businesses alike with low costs and an above-average quality of life. The highly educated workers of this midwestern city also enjoy one of the shortest average commute times in the country.
All in all, the city of Des Moines provides an outstanding living environment replete with endless possibilities for cultural enrichment, entertainment, recreation and employment.