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  • Des Moines was founded in May 1843 when Captain James Allen built a fort on the site where the Des Moines RiverDes Moines and Raccoon RiverRaccoon Rivers merge. Allen wanted to use the name Fort Raccoon, but the American War Department told him to name it Fort Des Moines. The original origin of the name Des Moines is uncertain. The French "Des Moines" translates literally to "Of The Monks". "Riviere Des Moines" translates to "river of the monks", known today under the franglicized name of Des Moines River. It could have referred to the river of the Moingonas, named after an Indian tribe that resided in the area and built burial mounds. Others see it as referring to French TrappistsTrappist monks, some of whom lived in huts at the mouth of the river, or connected to the phrase de moyen in French, meaning middle, because of its location between the Mississippi riverMississippi and Missouri rivers. Settlers came and lived near the fort, and on May 25, 1846, Fort Des Moines became the seat of Polk County. On September 22, 1851, it was incorporated as a city, and its town charter was approved in a vote on October 18. In 1857, the name Fort Des Moines was shortened to Des Moines alone and it was made the capital of Iowa. (The capital was in Iowa City, IowaIowa City before that.) By 1900, Des Moines was Iowa's largest city with a population of 62,139. In 1907, the city adopted a city commission government known as the Des Moines Plan, comprising an elected mayor and four commissioners who were responsible for public works, public property, public safety, and finance. This form of government was scrapped in 1950 in favor of a council-manager government, and tweaked in 1967 so that four of the six city council members were elected by ward rather than at-large. As with other major urban areas, the city core began losing population to the suburbs in the 1960s (the peak population of 208,982 was recorded in 1960). However, the growth of the outlying suburbs has been a constant and the overall metro area population is over 520,000 today. The skyline of downtown Des Moines changed during the 1970s and 1980s as several new skyscrapers were built. Until then the 19-story Equitable Building, dating from 1924, was the tallest building in the city and, at that time, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. That changed as the 25-story Financial Center was completed in 1972 and the 36-story Ruan Center was completed in 1974. They were later joined by the 30-story Marriott InternationalMarriott hotel (1981), the 20-story Hub Tower (1985), and Iowa's tallest building, Principal Financial Group's 44-story tower at 801 Grand (1990). This time period also saw the opening of the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines (1979), the Des Moines Botanical Center (1979), the Iowa Events Center#Polk County Convention ComplexPolk County Convention Complex (1985), and the State of Iowa Historical Building (1987). The Des Moines skywayskywalk system also began to take shape during the 1980s. By the beginning of 2006, the skywalk system was more than three miles (5km) long and connected most main downtown buildings. Des Moines made national headlines during the Great Flood of 1993. Heavy rains throughout June and early July caused the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers to rise above flood stage levels. The Des Moines Water Works was submerged by floodwaters during the early morning hours of July 11, 1993, leaving an estimated 250,000 people without running water for 12 days and without drinking water for 20 days. The city is in the midst of major construction in the downtown area. The new Science Center of Iowa and the Iowa Events Center opened in 2005, while the new central branch of the Des Moines Public Library, designed by David Chipperfield, opened on April 8, 2006. The World Food Prize Foundation, which is based in Des Moines, announced in 2001 that it will restore the former Des Moines Public Library building as the Dr Norman Borlaug/World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. In 2002 the Principal Financial Group and the city announced plans for the Principal Riverwalk, which will feature trails, pedestrian bridges across the river, a fountain and skating plaza, and a "civic garden" in front of the City Hall. Several existing downtown buildings are being converted to loft apartments and condominiums. This trend is highlighted by the success of the "East Village" district of shops, studios, and housing between the capitol district and the Des Moines River. The Des Moines metro area is also experiencing a boom, in particular the western suburbs. West Des Moines, IowaWest Des Moines, in particular, now has over 50,000 people and is home to the Jordan Creek Town Center, the largest shopping center in Iowa, as well as several Wells Fargo office complexes, including a new corporate campus that is scheduled for completion in 2007. Nearby Dallas County, IowaDallas County was the 38th fastest-growing county in the United States between 2000 and 2005 with a growth rate of 27 percent, according to the United States Census Bureau. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Des_Moines%2C_Iowa

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