Des Moines Live Cam

The capital city of Iowa


Des Moines is the capital and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Iowa. The city has a rich history that dates back to its founding in the 1840s. Here are some key points in the history of Des Moines:

Early Settlement and Incorporation: Des Moines was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Sauk and Meskwaki. In the mid-19th century, European-American settlers began to establish themselves in the area. The Fort Des Moines was established in 1843 to help protect the rights of Native Americans and to manage the increasing settler population. The city was officially incorporated in 1851.

Railroads and Growth: The construction of railroads in the mid-19th century played a crucial role in the development of Des Moines, facilitating transportation and trade. The city became a hub for the insurance industry, and financial institutions began to establish themselves in the area.

Civil War Era: During the American Civil War, Des Moines served as a center for Union Army recruitment and training.

State Capital: Des Moines became the capital of Iowa in 1857, replacing Iowa City.

Economic Expansion and Industry: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Des Moines experienced economic growth and industrial development. Agriculture and insurance were major contributors to the city's economy. The city became known as the "Hartford of the West" due to its concentration of insurance companies.

Cultural and Educational Development: The city has a strong cultural scene with various museums, theaters, and performing arts venues. Des Moines is home to several universities and colleges, contributing to its educational vibrancy.

Modern Era: Des Moines continued to evolve as an economic and cultural center in the 20th century. Urban development projects and revitalization efforts have transformed the downtown area, attracting businesses, residents, and tourists.

Political Significance: Iowa's caucuses, the first major electoral event in the U.S. presidential nominating process, have made Des Moines a significant political hub. The city attracts attention from candidates and media every four years.

Recreation and Parks: Des Moines offers a variety of recreational opportunities with numerous parks, trails, and outdoor spaces. The Des Moines River and its riverfront have been focal points for recreational development.

Diverse Economy: Today, Des Moines boasts a diverse economy that includes financial services, insurance, agriculture, manufacturing, and technology.

Des Moines has grown from its early roots as a fort and a small settlement into a thriving metropolitan area with a mix of history, culture, and economic significance. The city continues to play a vital role in the Midwest region of the United States.

Top Tourist Attractions

The city offers a range of attractions for tourists, blending historical sites, cultural experiences, and outdoor activities. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Des Moines:

  • Iowa State Capitol: The Iowa State Capitol is an architectural gem and a symbol of the state's history. Visitors can explore the beautiful building, including the stunning dome, historical chambers, and the law library.
  • Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Located in the heart of downtown Des Moines, this park features a remarkable collection of modern and contemporary sculptures by prominent artists. It's a great place for art enthusiasts and those seeking outdoor recreation.
  • Des Moines Art Center: This art center houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by artists like Grant Wood and Georgia O'Keeffe. The center also features temporary exhibitions, making it a dynamic cultural destination.
  • Principal Park: Home to the Iowa Cubs, a Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, Principal Park is a popular spot for baseball fans. The stadium offers a picturesque view of the Des Moines skyline.
  • Science Center of Iowa: A family-friendly attraction, the Science Center of Iowa features interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, and live demonstrations. It's an engaging experience for visitors of all ages.
  • Blank Park Zoo: Blank Park Zoo is home to a diverse array of animals from around the world. The zoo focuses on conservation efforts and offers educational programs for visitors.
  • Living History Farms: Located in the suburb of Urbandale, Living History Farms is an outdoor museum that provides a hands-on experience of Iowa's agricultural history. Visitors can explore a working farm, a 1700s Ioway Indian village, and a 1875 town.
  • Jordan House: The Jordan House, a historic mansion, serves as a museum that showcases the history of the Underground Railroad in Iowa. It provides insight into the state's role in the abolitionist movement.
  • Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden: This botanical garden features a variety of plant collections, outdoor gardens, and indoor conservatories. It's a serene and beautiful escape for nature lovers.
  • Salisbury House and Gardens: A historic house museum, Salisbury House, offers guided tours of its Tudor, Gothic, and Carolean-style mansion. The estate also features beautiful gardens.
  • Raccoon River Park: Raccoon River Park is a large recreational area with a lake, trails, and a beach. It's an excellent spot for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and picnicking.

These attractions showcase the diversity of experiences that Des Moines has to offer, from cultural and historical sites to outdoor recreation and family-friendly destinations.


The city experiences a humid continental climate with distinct seasons. Here's an overview of the climate in Des Moines:

  • Summer (June to August): Summers in Des Moines are warm and humid. Average daytime temperatures range from the high 70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 26-32°C). July is typically the warmest month, with occasional hot days reaching into the 90s°F (32-37°C). Thunderstorms are common during the summer months, contributing to the overall precipitation.
  • Fall (September to November): Fall brings cooler temperatures and a gradual decrease in humidity. Daytime highs in September may still reach the 70s°F (around 21-26°C), but temperatures drop as the season progresses. Fall foliage is often vibrant, especially in October, providing scenic views across the city and surrounding areas.
  • Winter (December to February): Winters in Des Moines are cold with occasional snowfall. Average daytime temperatures range from the 20s to the 30s°F (-6 to 2°C). January is typically the coldest month, with nighttime temperatures often dropping below freezing. Snowfall can vary, but Des Moines typically sees measurable snow during the winter months.
  • Spring (March to May): Spring brings a gradual warming of temperatures and the return of vegetation. Daytime highs in March start in the 40s°F (around 4-9°C) and gradually increase into the 60s°F (15-20°C) by May. Spring is a transitional season with variable weather, including occasional rain showers.
  • Overall Precipitation: Des Moines receives a relatively even distribution of precipitation throughout the year, with slightly higher amounts in the summer months. Rainfall and occasional thunderstorms are common, contributing to the region's lush vegetation.

It's worth noting that weather conditions can vary from year to year, and extreme events, such as heatwaves in summer and severe winter storms, can occur. Visitors and residents should be prepared for the seasonal changes and potential weather fluctuations in Des Moines.

  • Coordinates: Des Moines is situated at approximately 41.5868° N latitude and 93.6250° W longitude.
  • River: The Des Moines River flows through the city, providing a scenic element. The river played a significant historical role in transportation and trade.
  • Elevation: The elevation of Des Moines is around 850 feet (260 meters) above sea level.
  • Topography: The topography of Des Moines is relatively flat, typical of the surrounding Midwestern region. The land is characterized by gently rolling hills.
  • Green Spaces: The city is known for its parks and green spaces. Raccoon River Park, Gray's Lake Park, and Water Works Park are some of the larger recreational areas within the city.
  • Downtown Des Moines: The downtown area is situated along the Des Moines River. It features a mix of modern and historic architecture, including skyscrapers, government buildings, and cultural institutions.
  • Surrounding Counties: Des Moines is the county seat of Polk County. It is part of the larger Des Moines metropolitan area, which includes several surrounding counties.
  • Transportation Hub: The city's central location has contributed to its historical importance as a transportation hub. Major highways, including Interstates 80 and 35, converge in Des Moines, enhancing its connectivity.
  • Climate: Des Moines experiences a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold with occasional snow, while summers are warm and humid. Fall and spring provide transitional periods with milder temperatures.
  • Urban Development: The city has seen significant urban development and revitalization projects, especially in the downtown area. This includes the construction of new residential and commercial buildings, contributing to the city's growth.
  • Cultural and Historical Sites: Several cultural and historical sites are scattered across Des Moines, such as the Iowa State Capitol, Pappajohn Sculpture Park, and Living History Farms.

Des Moines' geographical location, characterized by its river, parks, and flat terrain, has influenced its development and provided a backdrop for a mix of urban and natural environments. The city's central position within the state has historically made it an important economic and political center in Iowa.