People love to hate Des Moines. We especially hear it every 4 years during the caucuses that we’re not worth being first in the nation since we’re not that special. The following are worthwhile arguments to the haters.
- Des Moines has made a drastic change over the years in both appearance and standard of living. I remember when I was growing up, going downtown wasn’t really something you wanted to do since there was a lot of violence and deteriorating buildings. The city looked bad to put it nicely. We’ve torn down the bad and have built beautiful buildings and open parks in their place. We have attracted major companies like Facebook and Wellmark which in turn offer good jobs. We keep getting better with age, something cities like St. Louis and Detroit can’t claim.
- Our crime rates are very low compared to other Midwest cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis. Yes, these cities are larger than us but we still managed to lower our homicide rates 31% over the past 20 years according to the Des Moines Register. Des Moines police have cracked down on gang violence- something that was much worse in the 1990’s than many of us want to remember- and it shows in the fact that we don’t even consider Des Moines as a place to have gangs.
- We’re more open minded that we get credit for. Iowa was one of the first in the nation to recognize same sex marriage in 2009. We have events like 80/35 that don’t fit into the white bread image of a typical Iowan. In the 1970’s, Gov. Ray helped with the relocation of Tai Dam refugees to Iowa during their civil war, with nearly 90% of the Tai Dam refugees moving to Iowa.
- Des Moines is a growing food scene. With restaurants like Roca making Open Table’s list of top 100 restaurants in the nation, we’re finally getting some credit for the changing food scene here. We keep getting new and innovative restaurants while our current favorites like Centro and Proof continue making eating in Des Moines a worthwhile experience.
- We have the highest graduation rate in the country with 88% and our student’s SAT/ACT scores are always among the best in the nation. 40% of people who live in Des Moines ages 25+ hold at least an associate’s degree according to Greater Des Moines partnership.
- We’re the home state of recent sports stars like Shawn Johnson, Kyle Orton and Lolo Jones. The Drake Relays are regarded as one of the top track and field events in the U.S. The Iowa Games hosts athletes from around the world. We’re not only an active state, but we are a nationally recognized place to compete.
- We’re getting more diverse. The numbers are kind of old from the US Census but there’s a big leap in the number of Hispanic citizens from the year 2000 with 19,352 and the number in the year 2012 with 40,766. The African American population grew in that time frame from 18,557 to 28,650.
- Our theater scene is only getting better with the Civic Center attracting major shows to Des Moines. The local theater scene is just as impressive with the Des Moines Social club with the Des Moines Playhouse and Des Moines Social club who feature local actors often times performing plays written by Iowans. We have the option to see Broadway shows without leaving the state and without having to wait 20 years before the good ones make it here.
- We have 6 colleges in our city limits. DMACC offers students a cheaper way to get their college credits. Vatterott offers technical training for those don’t want to go the traditional college route. Des Moines University is the second oldest Osteopathic school in the country. Mercy College of Health Services offers health science degrees. Grand View University is an ever growing private college and finally Drake’s law school is one of the best in the nation.
- We’re first in the nation for the Caucus. No matter how much people from outside Iowa gripe about it, we’re the state that gets the ball rolling when it comes to the process of picking our next President. We have that right because have cultivated a reputation of trust by others and good decision making.
Check out this link for the top 10 ice cream spots in Des Moines: https://toptendesmoines.com/2016/03/25/top-10-ice-cream-spots-in-des-moines/