Introduction to Harlan, Iowa

Harlan, Iowa, in Shelby county, is located 38 miles NE of Council Bluffs, Iowa (center to center) and 41 miles NE of Omaha, Nebraska. The city is located in the Omaha metropolitan area. Harlan has a population of 5,282.

Harlan History

Harlan was named after James Harlan, a U.S. Senator and Supreme Court Justice. It was formally incorporated on May 2, 1879. In April, 1859, Harlan became the county seat of Shelby County, which was created on January 15, 1851 and was named in the honor of the first Governor of Kentucky called General Isaac Shelby. The first courthouse of the area was constructed in 1860.

Harlan and nearby Attractions

  • Shelby County Historical Museum
  • Harlan Golf and Country Club
  • Prairie Rose State Park
  • Walnut Creek Historical Museum
  • Danish Windmill

Things To Do In Harlan

At Harlan, one can spend their free hours at the Norman Stamp Aquatic Center. You can also visit the Dr. Joseph Spearing Park, Little George Park, Leinen Park, and Potters Park. The Pioneer Park also includes a walking/ jogging trail and facilities for Frisbee Golf. Apart from the Harlan Golf and Country Club, the city also includes two more 9 - hole golf courses. The Shelby County Historical Museum and the Danish Immigrant Museum are also worth visiting.

Harlan Transportation

Air transportation can be availed from Eppley Airfield.

Harlan Higher Education

Residents can avail higher education from Owa Western Community College, Bellevue University, and Creighton University.


Total Population 5,029
Male Share of the Population 46.9%
Female Share of the Population 53.1%
Senior Citizens 25.2%
Employed Population 16+ 2,505
Age of the Population 48


% of people married 52.4%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 23.8%
Median Earnings25+ $0
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $0
Median Earnings With High School Degree $0


Median Family Income $60,491
% Above Poverty Level 85.7%
% Below Poverty Level 14.3%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 16 minutes
% Working from Home 4.3%
% Walking and Biking to Work 2%
% Using Public Transportation 1.4%


People Living Alone 38.9%
Median Gross Rent $547
Median House Value $95,000


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 13.1%
US/American 0%
English 7.1%
Irish 10.4%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Harlan Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Medium City 38 miles NE of Council Bluffs, Iowa (center to center)
Nearest Large City 41 miles NE of Omaha, Nebraska
County Shelby
Metro Area Omaha
Standard Zip Codes 51537
P.O. Box Zip Codes 51593
Phone Area Codes 712
Time Zone Central (-6 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 41.653
Longitude -95.325

Harlan Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Station HARLAN
Distance 0.5 miles
Jan Temp 8 to 28 F
Apr Temp 35 to 61 F
Jul Temp 63 to 84 F
Oct Temp 38 to 63 F
Annual Precip 33.3 inches
Distance 21.4 miles
Jan Temp 7 to 27 F
Apr Temp 35 to 60 F
Jul Temp 62 to 84 F
Oct Temp 36 to 62 F
Annual Precip 33.4 inches
Distance 23.5 miles
Jan Temp 10 to 29 F
Apr Temp 38 to 62 F
Jul Temp 63 to 86 F
Oct Temp 39 to 64 F
Annual Precip 34.7 inches

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Earling 476 $65,417
Irwin 380 $50,000

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Harlan Public Libraries

Harlan Community Library
Harlan, Iowa
(712) 755-5934
Library Web Site

library logo

More Information for Librarians

Harlan Hospitals

(Government - State)
(712) 755-5161
Emergency Service: Yes

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Harlan High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

Serves 576 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.9

2712 12TH ST
A Non-traditional School
Serves 28 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 28

Study Online in Harlan
Additional Resources
Info for Harlan Government Officials

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