View Full Version : Des Moines: From Dull To Hip - The Story

01-25-2016, 02:06 AM
I posted this in the sub-forum for "other cities" but it doesn't refresh in the latest posts and I thought this would appeal to many here and deserved to be seen.

It's a long article, but quite good. From Politico's Jan/Feb print magazine.
Des Moines, Iowa: How America's Dullest City Got Cool - POLITICO Magazine (

This article is a part of Politico's excellent series, "What Works: A yearlong reported series from Politico Magazine, featuring innovative ideas—and how they spread—from cities across the United States at a time of unprecedented urban reinvention." Oklahoma City was featured in the December issue.

01-25-2016, 01:31 PM
Just a bump for those that will be interested, not just for the Des Moines article, but the whole series. Worth a bookmark.

01-25-2016, 01:47 PM
Thanks for sharing.

01-25-2016, 04:19 PM
I was relocated to DSM for work for a few years and don't regret it at all. Nice state, nice people, whole lotta corn fields.

Winters there are brutal (in an Oklahoman view), but can be survived.

Very much an Oklahoma type state where there is a very central economy (the morning news has the "corn report" where it talks about the price per bushel(?)), and just regular folk living and working. Not much of a tourism target, no big fancy companies, pretty under the radar news wise.

Very reasonable cost of living and don't recall too much traffic. Roads seemed well planned and well taken care of. I remember speaking to some people whose job in the winter was driving around in a personally owned truck with a plow on the front. I guess they got paid by the city to keep the roads clear, but you had an incentive to be "on shift" for a long time.

The only "weird" things I remember were:

1. A lot of neighborhoods didn't have fences. You just had an open backyard exposed to everyone else's backyard. Maybe it makes for a good community feeling?
2. Corn industry there has the state by its balls. Go to any gas station to fill up and you'll see the typical fuel choices, but there was a "ultra premium" with high octane rating for CHEAPER than 87. This doesn't seem to be the case anymore, based on a quick search, though.
3. Lots of pork use. Probably not the best place for those who only eat Kosher/Halal. I actually remember driving past the "National Pork Council" HQ a few times.

So I guess if you replace tornadoes/earthquakes with long snowy winters then OK and IA aren't too far apart. Really what mattered in the end, though, was that the people were nice and not snobby.

01-31-2016, 07:23 PM
I was at an International Downtown Association conference a number of years ago where Des Moines downtown folks were the stars of the show. I saw people from organizations like the Times Square BID, Denver Downtown Partnership, The Downtown Seattle Association and the LA Fashion District and others paying rapt attention to presentations done by Des Moines.

The principles of downtown revitalization are universal and not unique to big cities, nor to small towns. We can (and should) all learn from one another.

02-01-2016, 10:09 AM
Thank you for sharing that.

It's one of the few U.S. cities left on my "must see" list. Heard great things about the place.

02-01-2016, 10:47 AM
Des Moines is on my list as well! I've only explored the city via Street View. The Iowa State Capitol is among my favorite capitol buildings, and the vista from downtown to the capitol and vice versa is stunning.