Introduction to Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City, the county seat of Johnson County, Iowa, is located about 28 miles south of the city of Cedar Rapids and about 115 miles east of the state capital of Des Moines. Known as the "Athens of the Midwest" due to its wide spectrum of cultural and intellectual activities, the city is home to the University of Iowa. Highways servicing Iowa City include Interstate 80, U.S. Route 6 and Iowa State Highway 1. Nearby towns include Coralville, Tiffin, and North Liberty.

Founded in the late 1830s, Iowa City was the state's first seat of government, serving as Iowa's capital from 1842 to 1857. As the western part of the state continued to develop, however, Des Moines was chosen to replace Iowa City as the state capital. Partially compensating for this loss was the establishment in Iowa City of the University of Iowa, which later became the first public university in the nation to admit men and women on an equal basis and the nation's first institute of higher learning to accept creative work in theater, music, writing, and art as theses for advanced degrees. The University continues to this day to wield a tremendous economic impact on the area, having become the city's largest employer, with over 20,000 employees.

Things to do in Iowa City

Small-town hospitality combined with big-city amenities make Iowa City an ideal location for finding things to see and do. The Old Capitol building commemorates the city's history as Iowa's original state capital, and stands today as a major landmark and tourist attraction in the middle of the University of Iowa campus. The University's teaching hospital offers a large collection of art and houses a Medical Museum on its eighth floor. Other local historic/cultural spots include Plum Grove, home of Iowa's first governor, and the University of Iowa Art Museum. Attractions only a short distance away include the Amana Colonies, offering German home style food and crafts just 20-minutes west of the city. The small town of Kalona, 20 minutes southwest of Iowa City, offers a look at the culture of its large Amish population. The small town of West Branch, 10 minutes east of the city, is the birthplace of Herbert Hoover and home to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum where visitors can learn more about America's 31st president.

In addition to culture and education, Iowa City is also a great place for recreation and fun. Kids can enjoy Waterdance Fountain on the car-free Pedestrian Mall, which also serves as a gathering place for students and locals, and attracts large crowds for its summertime events such as the Friday Night Concert Series and the annual Jazz Fest, held every July. Also taking place in July is another annual city event, the Johnson County Fair. In early June, the city hosts the annual Iowa Arts Festival where visitors can enjoy the state's best music, visual art, and food. Over 40 public parks populate the Iowa City area, several of which overlook the scenic Iowa River and contain networks of walking and biking trails in addition to relaxing picnic sites. The Coralville Lake, located to the city's north, offers a host of recreational activities, including pleasure boating, fishing, swimming, and water-skiing.

Sports in Iowa City reside in the domain of the University of Iowa's athletic teams, known as the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes, whose nickname was borrowed from the state of Iowa (also known as the Hawkeye State), are a member of the Big Ten Conference. The nearest professional sports team can be found in Cedar Rapids (a half-hour drive to the north), home to the Cedar Rapids Kernels, a Minor League Baseball Class-A team affiliated with MLB's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Kernels compete in the Midwest League.


Total Population 71,832
Male Share of the Population 50.2%
Female Share of the Population 49.8%
Senior Citizens 8.8%
Employed Population 16+ 39,306
Age of the Population 26


% of people married 32.7%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 58.6%
Median Earnings25+ $37,439
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $24,732
Median Earnings With High School Degree $26,734


Median Family Income $75,104
% Above Poverty Level 71.8%
% Below Poverty Level 28.2%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 16 minutes
% Working from Home 3.5%
% Walking and Biking to Work 19.3%
% Using Public Transportation 9.9%


People Living Alone 34.5%
Median Gross Rent $865
Median House Value $186,100


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 21.4%
US/American 0%
English 9.2%
Irish 16.4%

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

Iowa City Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Large City 200 miles W of Chicago, Illinois
County Johnson
Metro Area Iowa City
Standard Zip Codes 52240, 52241, 52242, 52245, 52246
P.O. Box Zip Codes 52244
Company Zip Codes 52243
Phone Area Codes 319
Time Zone Central (-6 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 41.661
Longitude -91.53

Iowa City Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


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

Distance 0.8 miles
Jan Temp 13 to 30 F
Apr Temp 41 to 63 F
Jul Temp 66 to 88 F
Oct Temp 44 to 66 F
Annual Precip 37.2 inches
Distance 18.1 miles
Jan Temp 10 to 27 F
Apr Temp 38 to 60 F
Jul Temp 63 to 85 F
Oct Temp 40 to 63 F
Annual Precip 33.4 inches
Station TIPTON 4 NE
Distance 25.4 miles
Jan Temp 8 to 27 F
Apr Temp 37 to 60 F
Jul Temp 62 to 84 F
Oct Temp 38 to 63 F
Annual Precip 36.4 inches

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Coralville 20,038 $85,160
Hills 810 $70,972

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

Iowa City Public Libraries

Iowa City Public Library
123 S LINN
Iowa City, Iowa
(319) 356-5200
Library Web Site

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More Information for Librarians

Iowa City Hospitals

(Government - State)
(319) 356-1616
Emergency Service: Yes

(Voluntary non-profit - Church)
(319) 339-0300
Emergency Service: Yes

Iowa City VA Medical Center
601 Highway 6 West
(319) 338-0581 or (800) 637-0128
Emergency Service:

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Iowa City High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

Serves 1,678 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 16

Serves 1,522 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 16.3

Iowa City Colleges

Click school name for a detailed profile.

Additional Details
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