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Iowa City: past, present, and future

Iowa City: past, present, and future

November 9, 2015

We know modern Iowa City as a vibrant community, renowned for its arts and culture and for the vitality of its downtown and university campus. Our community has come a long way to reach where it is today. The shape and size of Iowa City has grown along with its population over its 176 year history. The city’s population has increased greatly in the past, going from 7,987 in 1900 to a current 73,000. As a result of this population increase, Iowa City has developed and changed greatly.  

Iowa City continues to grow today. According to Iowa City associate urban planner Karen Howard, there is a lot of development occurring around Iowa City. “The city is always changing and evolving based on current needs, demands and desires of the community.”

Major development projects are happening right now. Ever since the 2008 flood, the University of Iowa is still in the process of rebuilding after much of its arts campus was destroyed. It has also been tearing down building that are at risk for future flooding. “The new UI Music School is currently under construction,” said Howard. “Across the street from that new building is the site of the future UI Art Museum.”

Another future development is a new planned park along the Iowa River. The city unveiled plans for Riverfront Crossings Park earlier this year, which will create a waterfront park, shopping and recreational facilities, and bring new jobs to the area. Howard also mentioned future plans for downtown buildings and apartments.

Recent changes have also occurred at West High. In 2004, the Ninth Grade Wing was created, and in 2005, a football complex was added. Those additions were created to support a student population of 1,600. Now, however, the student population is around 2,000. To deal with this large increase of students, West has added temporary classrooms. Teresa Bozer, a Spanish teacher, teaches in a temporary. She says temps provide less distractions, but their location is oftentimes inconvenient. Bozer agrees that West has an overcrowding problem. “Given the number of temporaries and shared rooms as well as the hallway congestion during passing periods and the 2nd lunch service location in the west wing, we are definitely overcrowded,” said Bozer. However, she doesn’t think it’s wise to add on to West any further. “We only have one more year to deal with the overcrowding  before [Liberty High] opens. The new high school will ease the overcrowding.”

Iowa City has large plans for its future. The City adopted an updated version of the Comprehensive Plan in 2013, called Iowa City 2030. Howard says it sets out the vision and goals for the city that reflect shared community values. An important goal for the City is to set out on a path to sustainability.

While Iowa City looks very different than it did decades ago, many buildings and landmarks remain the same. Below are several sliders that demonstrate both the changes and similarities that Iowa City and surrounding areas have retained through the years.

West High

Coral Ridge Mall

Coralville Iowa River Landing

Englert Theater
Iowa City Carnegie Public Library
St. Mary’s Church

Presbyterian Church

Some of the above works are derivatives of works by Alan Light available here under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.
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