Iowa City – Historic City
You may recognize the name Iowa City from cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes in football, but there is more to the city than the University of Iowa. Iowa City is in Johnson County and is the fifth largest city in Iowa according to a 2008 estimate. The city was named as the second best small metropolitan area for doing business by Forbes Magazine in 2008.
If you’re looking for history of the area, then this city is one stop that should be on your list. This city was the second capital of the Iowa Territory and the first capital of the State of Iowa. Visit a National Historic Landmark by going to see the Old Capital building. It’s in the center of the University of Iowa campus. Other tourist attractions are the U of I Art Museum and Plum Grove the home of the first governor of Iowa.
Iowa City was selected as the capital in 1839 but did not become the capital city officially until 1841 when the capital building began to be constructed. In 1876 the capital was then moved to Des Moines.
In the last few years Iowa City has had more than it’s fair share of run ins with Mother Nature. In spring of 2006 an EF2 tornado struck Iowa City causing severe property damage. Many were displaced from their homes including University of Iowa students. This was the first tornado ever recorded to hit the city. Two large car dealerships, several businesses and the 134 year old Catholic church were heavily damaged. Damage heavily favored the downtown business district and eastern residential area. Damage from the tornado and storm was estimated at $12 million.
If that wasn’t enough, just two years later the great flood of 2008 hit the city. The city and University of Iowa were greatly affected by the flooding of Iowa River. Widespread property damage and forced evacuations happened in large sections of Iowa City. The river rose to a record level of 30.46 feet. Nineteen buildings at the University were affected including the art museum. Thankfully valuable art, including works by Picasso, were moved to Chicago before the flood waters hit.
The city and residents are still recovering from the effects of the great flood. There are still flood recovery meetings, volunteer opportunities and free mental health counseling for survivors of the 2008 floods.
There is more to see in Iowa City than just a football game. It is a cornerstone of the state’s history with many important historic buildings and sites to visit.