Iowa is home to the world's largest strawberry, which is located in Strawberry Point. The 15-foot-tall fiberglass strawberry was erected in 1967 and has since become a beloved landmark in the community.
Polk County, Iowa has a rich and diverse history that stretches back thousands of years. Native American tribes such as the Sauk and Meskwaki inhabited the region before European settlement. In the early 1800s, the area was explored by French trappers and later became part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Following the Black Hawk War in 1832, the Sauk and Meskwaki were forcibly removed from the county.

Polk County was officially established on January 13, 1846, and was named after President James K. Polk. Des Moines, which is now the state capital and largest city in Iowa, became the county seat. In its early years, Polk County developed as an agricultural center, with farms and small communities dotting the landscape.

The county experienced significant growth with the arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century. The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and the Chicago and North Western Railway helped establish Des Moines as a transportation hub, leading to increased industrialization and economic development. The city became a leading center for insurance and financial services, which had a lasting impact on Polk County's economy.

Throughout the 20th century, Polk County continued to evolve, with a growing population and expanding urban areas. Major landmarks like the Iowa State Capitol, the Principal Riverwalk, and the Des Moines Art Center have further solidified Des Moines' position as a regional cultural and economic hub. Today, Polk County is known for its diverse economy, strong education system, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a desirable place to live, work, and visit.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Polk County, Iowa.

  • 1836 - Polk County was established as one of the original counties in the Iowa Territory.
  • 1843 - Fort Des Moines was established as a U.S. Army post in the county.
  • 1851 - The city of Des Moines was officially incorporated.
  • 1865 - The Iowa State Capitol building was completed in Des Moines.
  • 1873 - The Des Moines Public Library was established, making it the first public library in the state of Iowa.
  • 1884 - The Des Moines Water Works was founded to provide clean water to the city.
  • 1907 - Hy-Vee, a popular supermarket chain, was founded in Beaconsfield, Iowa (later moved to Des Moines).
  • 1929 - Principal Financial Group, now one of the largest financial services companies in the United States, was founded in Des Moines.
  • 1958 - Construction of the 59-story Equitable Life Building (now known as the Financial Center) was completed, becoming the tallest building between Chicago and Denver at the time.
  • 1985 - The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden opened to the public.
  • 2004 - The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was established in downtown Des Moines.