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Old 11-15-2014, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Cedar Rapids
233 posts, read 306,030 times
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So when you compare us to *most* of the surrounding states, I've often wondered exactly what the factor was in Iowa's developing history that stopped it from forming a major city, when so many other large cities in the region took off?

I can see why some people responding that this state was so focused on farming and agriculture, but couldn't that be said for a lot of states that still have major cities? Like Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota? A lot of people may say "well same goes for Nebraska, North and South Dakota - they don't have any cities much larger than Iowa," however I don't think it is completely accurate to compare Iowa to the states one "rung" west, which are more arid, and much less populated due to mostly that. However I think we ARE fairly comparable to Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, etc...

When you look to the immediate north and south, you've got St. Louis, AND Kansas City way out west, and even Minneapolis St. Paul to the north, of course there is Chicago, and Milwaukee - which I can see why their development took off due to their Great Lakes access.

We have the same rivers and waterway transportation as Missouri and Minnesota, so what stopped us from having a St. Louis, Kansas City, even Indianapolis or a Minneapolis type of city? any thoughts? I understand that Iowa was settled by mostly German/and some Scandinavian farmers - however that didn't stop other Midwestern states from having diverse cities.

In my opinion, if Iowa WERE to have a large urban area that formed in the 19th and 20th century, it would have probably been right where the Quad Cities/Davenport are - Right on the Mississippi waterway like St. Louis, or even Memphis in the south. Can you imagine if that area had actually become a bustling brick urban enclave like St. Louis? I think it would have had potential to be an awesome city really.

*Disclaimer, I'm not saying it's a bad thing, or trying to say that the existing urban areas in Iowa do not match up, as I think there are a lot of nice towns/cities and people here. I am also aware that many urban areas of Iowa are growing at a moderate/steady/healthy pace. But I'm referring to established cities with historic urban density, there is a big difference between that and "new growth" cities.
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Old 11-15-2014, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Behind You!
1,952 posts, read 3,792,664 times
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The fact that the entire state population is lower than many major cities populations probably has something to do with it. Who would live there? Who would inhabit the rest of the state?
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Old 11-15-2014, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Sioux Falls, SD area
3,805 posts, read 5,162,251 times
Reputation: 7040
Quote:
Originally Posted by burrrrr View Post
So when you compare us to *most* of the surrounding states, I've often wondered exactly what the factor was in Iowa's developing history that stopped it from forming a major city, when so many other large cities in the region took off?

I can see why some people responding that this state was so focused on farming and agriculture, but couldn't that be said for a lot of states that still have major cities? Like Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota? A lot of people may say "well same goes for Nebraska, North and South Dakota - they don't have any cities much larger than Iowa," however I don't think it is completely accurate to compare Iowa to the states one "rung" west, which are more arid, and much less populated due to mostly that. However I think we ARE fairly comparable to Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, etc...

When you look to the immediate north and south, you've got St. Louis, AND Kansas City way out west, and even Minneapolis St. Paul to the north, of course there is Chicago, and Milwaukee - which I can see why their development took off due to their Great Lakes access.

We have the same rivers and waterway transportation as Missouri and Minnesota, so what stopped us from having a St. Louis, Kansas City, even Indianapolis or a Minneapolis type of city? any thoughts? I understand that Iowa was settled by mostly German/and some Scandinavian farmers - however that didn't stop other Midwestern states from having diverse cities.

In my opinion, if Iowa WERE to have a large urban area that formed in the 19th and 20th century, it would have probably been right where the Quad Cities/Davenport are - Right on the Mississippi waterway like St. Louis, or even Memphis in the south. Can you imagine if that area had actually become a bustling brick urban enclave like St. Louis? I think it would have had potential to be an awesome city really.

*Disclaimer, I'm not saying it's a bad thing, or trying to say that the existing urban areas in Iowa do not match up, as I think there are a lot of nice towns/cities and people here. I am also aware that many urban areas of Iowa are growing at a moderate/steady/healthy pace. But I'm referring to established cities with historic urban density, there is a big difference between that and "new growth" cities.
You can be very grateful that there isn't a St. Louis in Iowa. What a trash bucket.

The biggest 2 reasons to me is that on the east edge of Iowa by the Mississippi it's just a short little jaunt to Chicago. It's just too close. One other reason that comes to mind is proximity to rail service. Even now, most of the very largest cities (Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Waterloo, Sioux City come to mind) don't have access to any passenger train service. For some weird reason the only Amtrak in Iowa runs along the southern 1/3 of Iowa where there aren't any major cities.

On the Missouri there is a quite large metro area in Omaha/Council Bluffs. Unfortunately I guess for Iowa is the majority of the city is in Nebraska.

The fact that Des Moines grew so much larger than any other city in Iowa is kind of baffling. It originally didn't even have the state capital and still doesn't have any of the bigger universities (although Ames is relatively close). The Des Moines River is nothing even close to the Missouri or Mississippi as to being a larger waterway for shipping, especially when considering the 19th century and early 20th century. It doesn't really go anywhere of note north of Des Moines. Only answer I can think when considering years ago is it was in the center of the state for agricultural uses and somehow the major insurance companies started settling there later.
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Old 11-15-2014, 12:03 PM
 
Location: Cedar Rapids
233 posts, read 306,030 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmgg View Post
You can be very grateful that there isn't a St. Louis in Iowa. What a trash bucket.
I'm sure this has something to do with recent news in that area ... Every urban area has it's modern day problems - ESPECIALLY here in the Midwest. St. Louis hasn't always been that way, think back to the days when our region was the fastest growing and developing in the country. You know back before people could have pools and green yards in the middle of the desert!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmgg View Post
You can be very grateful that there isn't a St. Louis in Iowa. What a trash bucket.

The biggest 2 reasons to me is that on the east edge of Iowa by the Mississippi it's just a short little jaunt to Chicago. It's just too close.
The same could be said for Milwaukee though, among other cities.
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Old 11-15-2014, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Cedar Rapids
233 posts, read 306,030 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snatale1 View Post
The fact that the entire state population is lower than many major cities populations probably has something to do with it.
The reason the population is so low is because there are no major cities. See how one comes first?
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Old 11-15-2014, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Sioux Falls, SD area
3,805 posts, read 5,162,251 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burrrrr View Post


The same could be said for Milwaukee though, among other cities.
Milwaukee is different though. When they got beer, the people came in droves. Kind of like what happens in the front yard of our neighborhood.
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Old 11-15-2014, 02:29 PM
 
1,302 posts, read 1,386,698 times
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The interstate system had a lot to do with the cities that did grow... Are there any interstates in Iowa? Just kidding... LOL
But if you look at the cities you mentioned you'll see they have more than just a crossroad to and from the city.
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Old 11-15-2014, 03:19 PM
 
Location: Cedar Rapids
233 posts, read 306,030 times
Reputation: 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by Litefoot View Post
The interstate system had a lot to do with the cities that did grow... Are there any interstates in Iowa? Just kidding... LOL
But if you look at the cities you mentioned you'll see they have more than just a crossroad to and from the city.
You are correct in that most major metropolitan areas have major interstates connecting them, and surrounding them. But remember that those interstates were built to and around pre-existing major cities. The cities came first. The reason Iowa doesn't have many interstates is because there are not any cities. Keep in mind there is only one interstate connecting Kansas City and St. Louis, as well as between MSP and Chicago - however upon approaching those cities you see more interstates because there are "spur" interstates that were built to serve those regions.
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Old 11-16-2014, 06:36 PM
 
11,288 posts, read 23,456,129 times
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Well St. Louis is right at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri, that's the key to that growth. Chicago was at the southern end of the Great Lakes connection and also had a canal connection to the Mississippi via the shipping canal and Illinois river. Also it developed at the railroad hub of the country which gave it insane growth from the mid 1800's to the mid 1900's.

There's no big reason Iowa didn't, it just didn't happen to have a city with a geographic location or an industry/economic advantage that made any one city take off.

Cities develop because of geographic or economic reasons, either they have them or they don't. Iowa just didn't have any in the past that made cities blow up. If anything it has the biggest one it ever has with the current situation of Des Moines which is growing quite quickly and has a heavy base in insurance. Des Moines never had an interstate, railroad or water shipping advantage in the past which really drove city growth prior to WWII.
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Old 11-16-2014, 08:38 PM
 
Location: Cedar Rapids
233 posts, read 306,030 times
Reputation: 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago60614 View Post
Des Moines never had an interstate, railroad or water shipping advantage in the past which really drove city growth prior to WWII.
That would explain why the Quad Cities and Des Moines were always neck and neck with population until more recent times, as well as why the Quad Cities has a more substantial interstate system than Des Moines.

Last edited by burrrrr; 11-16-2014 at 09:35 PM..
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