Uniquely Iowa City
Iowa City’s Curious Communities are truly a unique place with their own story to tell. Here are a few places to visit you won’t find quite the same elsewhere.
1. Iowa City Ped Mall: This hub for both University of Iowa students and residents is filled with sidewalk cafes, small boutiques and daily passersby. It will soon house a permanent live music stage and upgrades that will continue to make it one of the most sought after places to spend time in the city.
2. UI Medical Museum: Located on the eight level of the main hospital, the University of Iowa Medical Museum showcases the incredible progress made in patient care over the years with photographs, documents, artifacts and early instruments, emphasizing the major role of University Hospitals in these advances.
3. Coralville Lake & Devonian Fossil Gorge: A particularly popular place to visit in the summer, the gorge is a geological gem. Devastating floods in 1993 created the gorge when the river rose more than 4.5 feet above the dam’s spillway and removed everything in its path, revealing the fossils once water receded. The fossils had gotten harder to see until a second flood in 2008 sent water over the spillway again, scouring old fossils and exposing new ones.
4. Largest Wooden Nickel: This 18-foot diameter wooden nickel is located outside of Iowa City on Dubuque Street, just north of Interstate 80. It was built 2006 as a protest against county officials’ decision to raise speed limits in the area. Resident Jim Glasgow spent more than six months creating the nickel, which weighs in around 4,000 pounds.
5. Home of the Butterfly Stroke: The butterfly stroke was perfected in Iowa City in the early 1930s. The technique started to develop as people were looking for a more efficient way to do the breaststroke. David Armbruster, a former Iowa swimming coach, realized in 1934 that bringing the arms forward over the water in a breaststroke was more efficient. A year later, he worked with one of his swimmers, to develop a kicking technique that uses the legs in unison. Using both styles together is now known as the butterfly. Swimming meets inside the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center are particularly meaningful with this history in view.
6. Riverside Festival Stage: Located in Lower City Park, the Riverside Festival Stage is a 470-seat outdoor theatre modeled after the famous Globe Theatre in London. It is Shakespearean-style facility where Riverside Theatre presents classic works in June and July.
7. Old Capitol: The Old Capitol has held a significant place both in our state and university’s histories. The last capitol of the Iowa territory, this building served as Iowa's first state capitol from 1846 to 1857. When the state government moved to Des Moines in 1857, Old Capitol served as the University's first building and the founding place of many departments. In 1976, Old Capitol became a National Historic Landmark and public museum.
8. UNESCO City of Literature: Iowa City was designation as a City of Literature in 2008, only the third city designated. It remains one of just two designated cities in the United States of the 27 in the global network. Weekly readings at Prairie Lights and the Iowa City Book Festival held each fall, among many other programs and events, support this cultured, literary community.
9. Place-making Art: Yes, there are murals in many cities - but that’s the beauty of art pieces. Each one is unique. Our downtown murals reflect each artist and the inspiration from each work. Stories are creatively told this way - including the story of MidWestOne Bank founder Ben Summerwill and his horse.