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Des Moines

City of Des Moines

  •   State: 
    Polk County
    Des Moines
      County FIPS: 
    41°35′27″N 93°37′15″W
      Area total: 
    90.70 sq mi
      Area land: 
    88.18 sq mi
    955 ft
  •   Latitude: 
      Dman name cbsa: 
    Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
    Eastern Standard Time (EST) UTC-5:00; Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) UTC-4:00
      ZIP codes: 

    Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, United States

  •   Population: 
      Population density: 
    2,428.39 residents per square mile of area
      Household income: 
      Unemployment rate: 
  •   Sales taxes: 
      Income taxes: 

Des Moines is the capital and most populous city of Iowa. It was incorporated on September 22, 1851, as Fort Des Moines. The city's population was 214,133 as of the 2020 census. The six-county metropolitan area is ranked 83rd in terms of population in the United States with 699,292 residents. It is the largest metropolitan area fully located within the state. Des Moines is a major center of the US insurance industry and has a sizable financial services and publishing business base. Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Facebook have built data-processing and logistical facilities in the Des Moines area. As the state's capital, it is the site of the first caucuses of the presidential primary cycle. Many presidential candidates set up campaign headquarters in Des Moines, including Barack Obama and George W. Bush. The name Des Moines comes from the early French name, Rivière des Moines, meaning "River of the Monks" or "of the monks". The city is the headquarters for the Principal Financial Group, Ruan Transportation, TMC Transportation, EMC Insurance Companies, and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. In addition, 15 prehistoric Indian mounds were observed in this area by early settlers by early American settlers. All have been destroyed during development of the city by the early 20th century. The Des Moines River has attracted humans for at least 7,000 years. Several prehistoric occupation areas have been identified in downtown Des Moines by archaeologists in December 2010. It contains well-preserved house deposits and numerous graves.


Des Moines is the primary city name, but also Beaverdale are acceptable city names or spellings. The official name is City of Des Moines. Des Moines takes its name from Fort Des Moines (184346), which was named for the Des Moines River. This was adopted from the name given by French colonists. The historian Virgil Vogel claimed that the name was derived from Moingona, an Algonquian clan name, which means "Loon" In 2015, Michael McCafferty of Indiana University, concluded that thename was actually a derisive term coined by the Peoria tribe. It translates, essentially, as "the feces-faces" and was an insulting nickname they hurled at their rivals. The word Des Moines translates literally to either "from the monks" or "of the monks", depending on how you translate it. The name Des Moines comes from a French derivation of Moingoana, meaning "people by the portage" or something similar, a reference to Des Moines Rapids, where the earliest known encounters between the Moingonna and European explorers took place. It also comes from the French name "Moines" which translates as "monk" and means "to live" in huts on top of an ancient mound in what is now known as the Monks Mound at Cahokia, east of the Mississippi River and the city of St. Louis. It is also known as "Des Moines" in the U.S. state of Iowa, where it is located in the heart of the state. It means "the city of Des Moines" or, more commonly, "the capital of Iowa".


The "Palace" is an expansive, 7,000-year-old site found during excavations prior to construction of the new wastewater treatment plant. More than 6,000 artifacts were found at this site. At least three Late Prehistoric villages, dating from about AD 1300 to 1700, stood in or near what developed later as downtown Des Moines. In addition, 15 to 18 prehistoric American Indian mounds were observed in this area by early settlers. All have been destroyed during development of the city. The site contains well-preserved house deposits and numerous graves. It is located at the junction of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. It was discovered in December 2010 by State of Iowa archaeologist John Doershuk, assisted by University of Iowa archaeologists at this dig. It has been named after a former mayor of Des Moines, who was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives in the 1930s and 1940s. The city's name is derived from the name of a Native American tribe that lived in the area before the arrival of the first European settlers. The name of the tribe is now known as the "Minnows" or the "Ninnis" or "Ninsu" or even "Nissu" in some parts of the U.S. and "Nossu" means "northerly" in Native American. The "Nussu" name is also used to refer to the Native Americans who lived in and around the area in the early 1800s.


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. The fort was built to control the Sauk and Meskwaki tribes, whom the government had moved to the area from their traditional lands in eastern Iowa. Soldiers stationed at Fort Des Moines opened the first coal mines in the area, mining coal from the riverbank for the fort's blacksmith. In May 1851, much of the town was destroyed during the Flood of 1851. In 1857, the name "Fort Des Moines" was shortened to "Des Moines", and it was designated as the second state capital, previously at Iowa City. In 1910, the Census Bureau reported Des Moines' population as 973, reflecting its early settlement pattern by primarily white Europeans. It displaced the three Mississippi River ports: Davenport, Dubuque, and Burlington, that had alternated holding the position since the territorial period since the early 1800s. Des Moines has remained Iowa's most populous city since 1910, with a population of 22,408, making it Iowa's largest city and 27% black and 2,7% white. It is also Iowa's second-largest city, after Iowa City, which is home to the University of Iowa. The city's name is derived from the word "des Moines" which means "city" or "town" in the Spanish language, and "mogul" in English.


The skyline of Des Moines changed in the 1970s and the 1980s. Additional skyscrapers were built in the 1990s, including Iowa's tallest. The new central branch of the Des Moines Public Library, designed by renowned architect David Chipperfield of London, opened on April 8, 2006. The World Food Prize Foundation, which is based in Des Moines, completed adaptation and restoration of the former Des Moines public library building in October 2011. The former library now serves as the home and headquarters of the Norman Borlaug/World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. The Science Center of Iowa and Blank IMAX Dome Theater and the Iowa Events Center opened in 2005. The Des Moines skywalk system is 4 miles (6.4 km) long and connects many downtown buildings. The city's tallest building, Principal Financial Group's 45-story tower at 801 Grand was built in 1991, and the 19-story EMC Insurance Building was erected in 1997. In the early 21st century, the city has had more major construction in the downtown area, including the new Science Center and BlankIMAX Dome Theatre. The Iowa City Zoo is a popular tourist attraction in the city, with more than 20,000 visitors a year. It is located on the banks of the Iowa River. The zoo is open to the public and offers a variety of activities for children, adults, and families. It also has a museum, the Iowa Museum of History and Science, which opened in 1987.


Des Moines has an area of 90.65 square miles (234.78 km²) The city is 850 feet (260 m) above sea level at the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers. In November 2005, Des Moines voters approved a measure that allowed the city to annex parcels of land in the northeast, southeast, and southern corners of Des Moines without agreement by local residents. The annexations became official on June 26, 2009, as 5,174 acres (20.94km²) and around 868 new residents were added to the city. Des Moines' suburban communities include Altoona, Ankeny, Bondurant, Carlisle, Clive, Grimes, Johnston, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines, and Windsor Heights. The Des Moines area has a hot summer type humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), with warm to hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. Summer temperatures can often climb into the 90 °F (32 °C) range. Winters are slightly colder than Chicago, but still warmer than Minneapolis, with summer temperatures being very similar between the Upper Midwest metropolitan areas. Snowfall averages 36.5 inches (93 cm) per season, with a peak in the warmer months. The annual precipitation average is 36.55 inches (928 mm), with a peaked in the spring and summer. The city has a population of 1.2 million. The population of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area is 1.3 million.


The 2020 census population of the city included 252 people incarcerated in adult correctional facilities and 2,378 people in student housing. Of the population age 25 and over, 86.7% were high school graduates or higher and 27.9% had a bachelor's degree or higher. The city's racial make up during the 2010 census was 76.4% White, 10.2% African American, 0.5% Native American, 4.0% Asian, and 2.6% from Two or more races. People of Hispanic or Latino origin, of any race, made up 12.1% of the population in 2010. Non-Hispanic Whites were 70.5%. Des Moines also has a sizeable South Sudanese community. The median income for a household in the city was $54,843, and the median income. for a family was $66,420. The per capita income for the city is $29,064. About 12.3% of those under age 18 and 9.8%. of those age 65 or over were below the poverty line, including 24.3%. The city was 24.8% under the age of 18; 10.9%. of residents were between the ages of 18 and 24; and 29.4. of those between 25 and 44; and 11% were 65 or older. The population was 198,682 people, and 48,704 families in the 2000 census. There were 88,729 housing units at an average density of 1,097.2 per square mile (423.6/km²).


Iowa has one of the lowest insurance premium taxes in the nation at 1%. Des Moines has been referred to as the "Hartford of the West" and "Insurance Capital" because of this. The Principal is one of two Fortune 500 companies with headquarters in Iowa (the other being Casey's General Stores), ranking 201st on the magazine's list in 2020. Other major corporations headquartered outside of Iowa have a presence in the Des Moines Metro area, including Wells Fargo, Voya Financial, and Electronic Data Systems (EDS) The Meredith Corporation, a leading publishing and marketing company, was also based in Des Moines prior to its acquisition by IAC and merger with Dotdash in 2021. Des Moines was also the headquarters of Golf Digest magazine.Other major employers in the area include UnityPoint Health, Mercy Medical Center, MidAmerican Energy Company, CDS Global, UPS, Firestone Agricultural Tire Company, EDS, Drake University, Titan Tire, The Des Moines Register, Anderson Erickson, Dee Zee and EMCO. In 2017, Kemin Industries opened a state-of-the-art worldwide headquarters building in Des Des Moines. The city is also home to the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Iowa City University, and Iowa State College of Pharmacy. It is also the home of the Iowa State Medical School, which offers a range of health care services, including medical imaging, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic procedures. The Iowa City Medical School offers a variety of specialties, such as radiology, pathology, and oncology.


The City of Des Moines is a cultural center for Iowa and home to several art and history museums and performing arts groups. The Iowa State Capitol houses the governor's office, legislature, and the old Supreme Chambers. The Salisbury House and Gardens is a 42-room historic house museum on 10 acres (4 ha) of woodlands in the South of Grand neighborhood. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park showcases a collection of 24 sculptures donated by Des Moines philanthropists John and Mary Pappjohn. The West Terrace provides the entrance to the state's grandest building, the 10-acre State Building, the "people's" home of Iowa's first lady. The Des Moines Metro Opera has been a cultural resource in Des Moines since 1973 and is one of the largest performing arts organizations in the state. The Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheater is an outdoor concert venue on the east bank of the Des Moines River which hosts music events such as the Alive Concert Series. It is named afterand loosely inspired byKing's House in Salisbury, England. The city is a favorite of sightseers and is home to a variety of cultural performances and entertainment, such as Jazz in July, which offers free jazz shows daily at various venues throughout the city during the entire month of July. It also features a World War II memorial with sculpture and Wall of Memories honoring those who served in the Civil War and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and a museum of the USS Iowa.


The state of Iowa is home to a number of museums and historic buildings. The state is also home to the State Historical Society of Iowa and the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. The Iowa State Capitol is the official residence of the governor of Iowa. The University of Iowa has its own museum, the Iowa State Museum, and the Iowa Museum of History and Art. The State Museum of Iowa's collection includes more than 1,000 works of art and more than 100 historical artifacts. The National Museum of American History is the state's oldest museum and is located in downtown Des Moines. It was established in 1876. The museum is the oldest museum in the state and was opened by the state in 1872. It is located on the banks of the Des Moines River and was once the site of the Iowa City Opera House. It opened in 1875. The Museum of the State of Iowa was founded in 1881. It now houses a collection of more than 2,000 pieces of art, many of which date back to the early 19th century. It also houses the Iowa Historical Society, which dates back to 1876, and was the first museum of its kind in the U.S. to be established in Iowa. In 1881, the State Museum was established. It has since become the state museum of Iowa, and is now home to many other museums and historical sites. It includes the Iowa History Museum, the Museum of Art and the State History of the state, as well as the Iowa Art Museum of Science and History.

Air Quality, Water Quality, Superfund Sites & UV Index

The Air Quality index is in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa = 65.4. These Air Quality index is based on annual reports from the EPA. Higher values are better (100=best). The number of ozone alert days is used as an indicator of air quality, as are the amounts of seven pollutants including particulates, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and volatile organic chemicals. The Water Quality Index is 60. A measure of the quality of an area’s water supply as rated by the EPA. Higher values are better (100=best). The EPA has a complex method of measuring the watershed quality, using 15 indicators such as pollutants, turbidity, sediments, and toxic discharges. The Superfund Sites Index is 33. Higher is better (100=best). Based upon the number and impact of EPA Superfund pollution sites in the county, including spending on the cleanup efforts. The UV Index in Des Moines = 4 and is a measure of an area's exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays. This is most often a combination of sunny weather, altitude, and latitude. The UV Index has been defined by the WHO ( and is uniform worldwide.


The most recent city population of 214,133 individuals with a median age of 35.6 age the population dropped by -0.94% in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa population since 2000 and are distributed over a density of 2,428.39 residents per square mile of area. There are average 2.35 people per household in the 80,928 households with an average household income of $43,641 a year. The unemployment rate in Alabama is 7.10% of the available work force and has dropped -0.40% over the most recent 12-month period and the projected change in job supply over the next decade based on migration patterns, economic growth, and other factors will increase by 32.10%. The number of physicians in Des Moines per 100,000 population = 279.3.


The annual rainfall in Des Moines = 30.1 inches and the annual snowfall = 31 inches. The annual number of days with measurable precipitation (over .01 inch) = 100. The average number of days per year that are predominantly sunny = 204. 86 degrees Fahrenheit is the average daily high temperature for the month of July and 11.9 degrees Fahrenheit is the average daily low temperature for the month of January. The Comfort Index (higher=better) is 42, where higher values mean a more pleasant climate. The Comfort Index measure recognizes that humidity by itself isn't the problem. (Have you noticed nobody ever complains about the weather being 'cold and humid?) It's in the summertime that we notice the humidity the most, when it's hot and muggy. Our Comfort Index uses a combination of afternoon summer temperature and humidity to closely predict the effect that the humidity will have on people.

Median Home Cost

The percentage of housing units in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa which are owned by the occupant = 59.75%. A housing unit is a house, apartment, mobile home, or room occupied as separate living quarters. The average age of homes = 51 years with median home cost = $113,060 and home appreciation of -2.79%. This is the value of the years most recent home sales data. Its important to note that this is not the average (or arithmetic mean). The median home price is the middle value when you arrange all the sales prices of homes from lowest to highest. This is a better indicator than the average, because the median is not changed as much by a few unusually high or low values. The property tax rate of $16.13 shown here is the rate per $1,000 of home value. If for simplification for example the tax rate is $14.00 and the home value is $250,000, the property tax would be $14.00 x ($250,000/1000), or $3500. This is the 'effective' tax rate.


The local school district spends $5,007 per student. There are 13.9 students for each teacher in the school, 808 students for each Librarian and 435 students for each Counselor. 6.19% of the area’s population over the age of 25 with an Associate Degree or other 2-year college degree, 15.50% with a master’s degree, Ph.D. or other advanced college degree and 6.48% with high school diplomas or high school equivalency degrees (GEDs).

  • Des Moines's population in Polk County, Iowa of 62,139 residents in 1900 has increased 3,45-fold to 214,133 residents after 120 years, according to the official 2020 census.

    Approximately 51.27% female residents and 48.73% male residents live in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa.

    As of 2020 in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa are married and the remaining 46.93% are single population.

  • 19.6 minutes is the average time that residents in Des Moines require for a one-way commute to work. A long commute can have different effects on health. A Gallup poll in the US found that in terms of mental health, long haul commuters are up to 12 percent more likely to experience worry, and ten percent less likely to feel well rested. The Gallup poll also found that of people who commute 61­–90 minutes each day, a whopping one third complained of neck and back pain, compared to less than a quarter of people who only spend ten minutes getting to work.

    79.52% of the working population which commute to work alone in their car, 12.51% of the working population which commutes to work in a carpool, 2.48% of the population that commutes using mass transit, including bus, light rail, subway, and ferry. 2.36% of the population that has their home as their principal place of work.

  • Of the total residential buildings in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, 59.75% are owner-occupied homes, another 32.49% are rented apartments, and the remaining 7.76% are vacant.

  • The 46.12% of the population in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa who identify themselves as belonging to a religion are distributed among the following most diverse religions.

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