Skip to main content

West Des Moines, Iowa - A City Eliminating Poverty by 2015

High Trestle Trail Bridge Across the Des Moines River

About 30 miles from Des Moines, Iowa at the town of Madrid, at night.

About 30 miles from Des Moines, Iowa at the town of Madrid, at night.

A Stop On the Underground Railroad

One of the fastest-growing cities in the state, West Des Moines focuses considerable efforts into sustainability, eliminating poverty, volunteering, preserving historic sites, and the arts. Interestingly, City Hall is located in offices on the second floor of the West Des Moines Library at 4000 Mills Civic Parkway.

The city began as the 1893 railroad town called Valley Junction. Now a retail hub, West Des Moines has recently been recognized by business and economic analysts as a Best Place to Live and Do Business in the USA. It is one of’s 100 Best Places to Live in America at Number 76 in 2010, out of thousands of cities and towns considered for the list.

Geographically, West Des Moines is the largest suburb just west of Des Moines, sitting east of the junction of highways I-35 and I-80, in the south central part of Iowa.

Daytime view of the bridge above.

Daytime view of the bridge above.

Iowa Reference Map

Jordan House Historic Site

Sac and Fox Nation and Jordan House

Word is that the Sac and Fox Nation heard a rifle fire in 1845, the shot coming from the cattle farm of James C. Jordan, so they migrated away. The Jordan House is now the West Des Moines Historical Society and operates the Jordan House Museum and the Bennett School.

The house is an important stop on the Underground Railroad associated with slavery and the American Civil War. People living along the routes used to say that slaves disappeared so fast, it was like they took an underground railroad. They would be surprised to see America's subway systems today!

The closest thing America has to an underground railroad was the mailing railways. Beginning in the UK, an above ground rail system for freight and passengers developed and came to the USA.

The closest thing America has to an underground railroad was the mailing railways. Beginning in the UK, an above ground rail system for freight and passengers developed and came to the USA.

Jordan House

Greater Des Moines and Some Suburbs

Eliminating Poverty by 2015

One of a few Best Places to do so, West Des Moines advertises all of its services to aide low-income households on its city website.

Public Services for Low-Income Households

  • Transportation- This is a vital part of becoming self-sufficient or maintaining health when elderly; cities need to have good transportation for everyone. The City of West Des Moines provides free transportation for residents that are elderly, disabled, or low income during daytime hours on weekdays. Special arrangements are made to help those under 60 and over 60 to enjoy a restaurant meal one a month with a group.
  • Food Pantry and Personal Pantry – Open 5 days a week. Food, toiletries, laundry detergent, diapers, toilet paper, etc. - the items Food Stamps disallow. A clothing program is open three days a week.
  • S.H.A.R.E. - Food ProgramNo income-level requirement . Save 50% on food boxes containing fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, staples, and other items. You may pay in Food Stamps if you have them.
  • Garden Program – Seedlings and roto-tilling offered.
  • UtilitiesAssistance – Heating bills, furnace repair and replacement, window insulation, fans an air conditioners, Gas and Electric help, water bill help.
  • Holiday Programs – Thanksgiving and Christmas, winter coats, parties.

West Des Moines as a city recruits volunteers all year long to help with these and a variety of additional programs that offer services to those in need in order to become self sufficient.

Ending Poverty by 2015

  • Des Moines Public Library
    "Ending Poverty by 2015" has been presented in the library, along with other educational programs. Ending poverity is a project initiative and goal adopted by the city.

Higher Education

Selected Best Local Attractions

2014 Percheron Grand Champion

More Information About Attractions

Many of these listed events and facility programs include a wide array of fine and performance arts that offer culture and historical preservation to residents and visitors of the Greater Des Moines Area. Local wineries combine wine tasting with art exhibitions successfully, but the library and related types of organizations display public art and gallery showings around the year.

Scroll to Continue

Additional events are staged for pets, including a Cooking for Your Pet workshop, Howl-o-ween party with costumes, diet planning for pets, pet safety clinics, Pet Pictures with Santa, and a variety of pet shows.

The Percheron World Congress is the largest celebration of this specific horse breed. Its exhibitors come from USA, Canada, France (where the horse was bred), Australia, South Africa, Japan, with additional nations represented each year.

Illumifest - Parks and Recreation sponsor the annual Illumifest, A Fall Festival of Light, an annual evening event in late September. Held on the combination City/School Campus at 4200 Mills Civic Parkway, it offers activities for all ages.

Visitors and residents can make their own decorated paper lanterns and participate in a lighting ceremony before the finale of Illumifest. The festival also includes public art lanterns, carnival rides, inflatables, free hot air balloon rides (That's right - FREE), presentations by the Chinese Association of Iowa, live entertainment, and concessions. The finale is a huge fireworks display.

Valley Junction Historic Business District

Retail Hub Of Central Iowa

Valley Junction Historic Business District

This business district was constructed in the 19th Century with wooden sidewalks in old Valley Junction. Today, it is a center of neighborhood shopping and community events.

  • A-MAY-Zing Days - West Des Moines’ signature event for the 31 days of May. Festivale Cinco de Mayo, Valley Junction Farmers Markets, Music in the Junction, the PGA Champions Tour Principal Charity Golf Classic, The Spring Art Market, and other concerts, festivals, and family events.
  • Festivale Cinco de Mayo - Railroad Park holds this event annually to celebrates Mexico and the heritage of many of the railroad workers in Valley Junction history. This festival offers Mexican foods, arts, live music, dancing, and activities. Admission free.
  • Historic Valley Junction Farmer's Market and Music in the Junction occur weekly during May through early October. Over 100 vendors line up along 5th Street for the Farmer’s Market so popular in the US as a localvore initiative. The district’s Railroad Park hosts a beverage garden with local bands playing on Thursday evenings at Music in the Junction. Free admission.
  • Spring and Fall Art Markets - Twice a year, 5th Street is lined with 100+ artists from around the USA for a juried festival. Unique and attractive items available include pottery, paintings, prints, photographic works, jewelry, furniture, clothing, sculpture, and something different every festival. Activities include an arts area for the kids, concessions, artistic demos, and live music on several stages. Admission free.

Jordan Creek Town Center Mall

Jordan Creek, named after abolitionist James C. Jordan, is an upscale lifestyle center covering 2,000,000 square feet of retail space. It has an enclosed retail center full of upscale fashion and lifestyle goods and services. It includes a 3 ½ acre lake surrounded by hike/bike trails, a boardwalk, waterfront restaurants and cafes, a hotel, an amphitheater, and a village business district with additional retailers. Apartments have been added to the complex, known as a living - working or life-work multiuse site.

Local Malls

The Malls of West Des Moines

Business and Jobs

Bloomberg's BusinessWeek named the combined Des Moines/West Des Moines market area as one of its 40 Economically Strongest American Metropolitan Areas, in the Number 17 slot, in 2009 and it has remained on the list since that time.

West Des Moines needs temporary Special Census workers in Spring 2015 and regular enumerators and other staff in 2020. Jobs pay $13 to $17 per hour, plus paid training and mileage. A limited number of clerical staff, crew leaders and supervisors also will be hired. Applicants will be 18+ years old, live within 20 miles of West Des Moines, have a valid driver’s license, access to a vehicle, and be willing to work a minimum of 20 hours/week.

Call (515) 222-3598.

Employment Growth

The majority of available jobs are located in Des Moines and West Des Moines, along with the nearest suburbs, Urbandale, Ankeny, and Johnston. The highest demand jobs are involved in Retail Sales and Service, IT, Healthcare, and Business Services. Many of the business and IT positions are also located within the local large healthcare systems.

Approximately12,000 job listings were available in March 2010, with over 14,300+ jobs advertised for March - April 2015. This is an increase of about 20%.

If West Des Moines can prove an increase in population through the US Special Census referenced above, it will receive over $2,000,000 for road infrastructure after census expenses over a period of a decade. This event will further increase jobs with an additional $670,000 to spend on jobs and roads each year.

Top Hiring Companies

  1. Platinum Supplemental Insurance - Particularly health insurance sales.
  2. Catholic Health Initiatives
  3. Hy-vee Food Stores: employee-owned corporation with retail stores in seven Midwestern states.
  4. Toys "R" Us, Pizza Hut
  5. Celebrity Staff
  6. Marriott
  7. Wells Fargo Bank
  8. Robert Half Technology
  9. Iowa Health System
  10. St Luke's Regional Medical Center

Top 10 Hot Jobs

  1. Salespeople
  2. Insurance Sales Agents
  3. Managers and Assistant Managers, including Food Service and others
  4. Sales and Insurance Benefits Representatives
  5. Hy-Vee Grocery jobs
  6. Business Analysts
  7. Sales Managers
  8. Healthcare Support Staff
  9. Real Estate Professionals
  10. Personal Bankers and Banking IT Staff
An upward trend began in January 2015.

An upward trend began in January 2015.

© 2010 Patty Inglish MS


Support Med. from Michigan on January 15, 2011:

It appears they are focusing on the right stuff, 'eliminating poverty, history/art,etc. Hope this extends across country. Took a 'rabbits view' of the parlor and it's pretty neat; but I'm glad we don't have to have funerals at home anymore (I wonder if some people still do), would not like that. Voted/rated.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on October 25, 2010:

I learned from your hub about another beautiful city of the USA. Thank you.

eovery from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa on October 23, 2010:

This area of West Des Moines, Urbandale, and Ankeny has been growing a lot. The schools and churches have been struggling on keeping up with it. School that we small at first are now some of the bigger schools in the state. At least they have modern school system.

Keep on hubbing!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 22, 2010:

You can write about the HubMob topic even after the week is over! I'd like to see your material on Chinese Halloween traditions. Best!

Sabrina Yuquan Chen (陈玉泉) from Boston, MA, USA on October 22, 2010:

Thanks Patty, for the insight, doubt I would ever be able to do what you are doing. Will try to write Halloween traditions in China, not sure if I could get it done soon enough :-)

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 22, 2010:

Hi snakebaby - I read the business and economic news every day and talk to people across the country. I read a lot of other matieral; also worked for 12 years in workforce development, meeting many people from various cities.

Sabrina Yuquan Chen (陈玉泉) from Boston, MA, USA on October 22, 2010:

I've seen you wrote so many stuff about places, amazed where you get all the facts and knowledge about all? Wish I could write like you do :-(

Related Articles