History of West Des Moines

City HallThe City of West Des Moines was incorporated on October 9, 1893. From its inception the City of West Des Moines has endeavored to provide the best possible services to its citizens. The City has been recognized by several national publications and a metro-wide publication as a great place to live and conduct business. It has grown from an 1893 railroad town known as Valley Junction with a population of 500 to a hub of commerce and premier living. West Des Moines is located at the crossroads of Interstates 35 and 80. The City remains one of the fastest growing communities in Iowa with a network of amenities to provide its citizens with a high quality of life.

Planning by early leaders of the Valley Junction community set standards for amenities considered basic today. In the first few years of incorporation these leaders were able to install sidewalks, gas and water mains, telephone service, and electricity, all services considered progressive at the time. The first City Hall was constructed in 1905 at 137 5th Street for the cost of $900. This building also housed the City's first Fire Department.

City Hall 3Continued growth resulted in the construction of several schools, churches and new buildings. On January 1, 1938, the city then known as Valley Junction adopted the new name of West Des Moines. The decline of the railroad industry and the Great Depression convinced community leaders that a new name would help spur progress and give the city a suburban image. Progress came and a suburban community emerged. In 1943 the West Des Moines Public Library was officially founded. In 1954, a new City Hall opened at 318 5th Street.


This site served as City Hall for almost 40 years until the floods of 1993 caused City Hall 4the City to relocate its offices. Temporary offices were set up around the community until 1996 when the offices were moved to the 2nd floor of the then recently completed West Des Moines Library at 4000 Mills Civic Parkway. The building at 318 5th Street became the offices of West Des Moines Human Services.

City Hall 2This remained the City Hall until December of 2002, when the new municipal office building opened at 4200 Mills Civic Parkway. As you look around the City of West Des Moines today it is evident that the visions or our early leaders have become a reality. With each new year and every instance of growth, the City's elected officials and staff remain committed to providing the best services for the citizens of our community.

For more information on the history of West Des Moines, visit the West Des Moines Historical Society website. The history of the Jordan House in the Historical Valley Junction has been narrated in a short video by the Valley High School Students. To see the video, follow this link: Jordan House History. Visit the Valley Junction area, where the physical origins of our community are still visible.