The city lies at the junction of 3 states: Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, a region locally known as the Tri-State Area. It serves as the main commercial, industrial, educational, and cultural center for the area. Dubuque is the oldest city in Iowa, and played a key role in the early settlement of the state, and the Upper Midwest. For this reason, it is commonly called the "Key City." Geographically, it is part of the Driftless Area, a portion of North America that escaped all three phases of the Wisconsinian Glaciation.
Dubuque has a rich history and culture that gives it greater prominence than its size would suggest. It is one of the few large cities in Iowa with hills, and is home to a large tourist industry, driven by the city's unique architecture, and river location. Also, it is home to 5 institutions of higher education, making it a center for culture and learning.
While Dubuque has long been a center of manufacturing, the economy has recently witnessed rapid growth and diversification in other areas. In 2005, it led the state and the Midwest in job growth, ranking as the 22nd fastest-growing economy nationally. Today, alongside industry, the city has large health care, education, tourism, publishing, and financial service sectors.
For all of the positive changes occurring, the city has recently received significant national recognition on a variety of fronts. In 2006, Money Magazine named Dubuque as having the shortest commute time of any city in the nation at only 11.8 minutes. In March 2007, the city was recognized as one of the "100 Best Communities for Young People" by the America's Promise Youth Foundation. In April 2007, the city was voted 15th in the "Best Small Places For Business and Careers" ranking by Forbes Magazine, climbing 60 spots from 2006. In June 2007, Dubuque won the All-America City Award, one of 10 cities nationally to do so. And finally, in June 2008, Dubuque was named as the "Most Livable" Small City by the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM).
The City of Dubuque is among the oldest settlements west of the Mississippi River. The first Europeans to explore the area were Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, who travelled along the river in 1673. They were commissioned by the colony of New France to map the unexplored region. The entire area was claimed for France in 1682 by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who named it "Louisiane" in honor of French King Louis XIV. Following the 1763 French defeat in the Seven Years' War, Spain gained control of Louisiana. The first permanent settler to what is now Dubuque was a French-Canadian pioneer, Julien Dubuque, who arrived in 1785. In 1788, he received permission from the Spanish government and the local Fox tribe of American Indians to mine the area's rich lead deposits. Control of Louisiana (and Dubuque's mines) shifted back to France in 1800, then to the United States in 1803, following the Louisiana Purchase. Dubuque died in 1810, but the wealth of minerals drew a number of new pioneers and settlers, mostly Frenchmen and other Europeans.
The current City of Dubuque, named after Julien Dubuque, was settled at the southern end of a large, flat, plain adjacent to the Mississippi River. The city was officially chartered in 1833, located in then-unorganized territory. The region was designated as the Iowa Territory in 1838, and was included in the newly-created State of Iowa in 1846. After the lead resources were exhausted, the city became home to numerous industries. Because of its proximity to forests in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Dubuque became a center for the timber industry, and was later dominated by various millworking businesses. Also important were boat building, brewing, and later, the railroad industry. Throughout the 1800s, and into the early 1900s, thousands of poor German and Irish Catholic immigrants came to work in the manufacturing centers. The city's Roman Catholic presence became so predominant that it was designated as the seat of the newly-established Archdiocese of Dubuque, and numerous convents, abbeys, and other religious instititutions were built. Much of the population remains Catholic to this day.
Early in the 20th Century, Dubuque was one of several places which saw a brass era automobile company, in this case Adams-Farwell; like most others, it folded. Subsequently, although Dubuque grew significantly, industrial activity remained the mainstay of the economy until the 1980s. During that time, a series of changes in manufacturing, and the onset of the "Farm Crisis" led to a large decline in the sector, and the city's economy as a whole. However, the economy diversified rapidly in the 1990s, shifting away from heavy industry. Today, tourism, high technology, and publishing are among the largest and fastest-growing businesses. Dubuque attracts well over 1,500,000 tourists annually, and this number continues to increase. Some of the more important changes include the ongoing construction of the America's River Project's tourist attractions in the Port of Dubuque, the expansion of the city's colleges, and the continued growth of shopping centers, like Asbury Plaza.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.7 square miles (71.8 km²), of which, 26.5 square miles (68.6 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.2 km²) of it (4.44%) is water.
The area is made up of several distinct neighborhoods, each of which has a unique history and character. These neighborhoods include: Cable Car Square/Cathedral Square, the Central Business District, Jackson Park/Upper Main, Lower Main, and the Warehouse District. An area of speical note within Downtown Dubuque is the Port of Dubuque, which has seen a massive amount of new investment and new construction. The downtown area includes a number of significant buildings, many of which are historic, reflecting the city's early and continuing importance to the region. Important sites downtown include:
Dubuque's North End area was first settled in the late 1800s by working-class German immigrants to the city. The German-American community in Dubuque sought to establish their own German Catholic churches, separate from the Irish Catholic churches in Dubuque's downtown and South End. Today, the area still retains its working-class roots, and is still home to some of the largest factories operating in Dubuque.
The North End is roughly defined, but generally includes all of the territory north of 17th Street, and east of North Grandview Avenue and Kaufmann Avenue. The area is made up of two main hills (west of Central Avenue, and west of Lincoln Avenue), and two main valleys, the Couler Valley (between the two hills), and the "Point" neighborhood, adjacent to the Mississippi River. It is home to Dubuque's two main cemeteries, Linwood Cemetery (established for Protestants), and Mt. Calvary Cemetery (established for Catholics).
Other important sites in the North End include:
Today, the South End is much larger, and includes all of the land south of Dodge Street, east of Fremont Avenue (but including areas of west of it), and north of the Key West area. The South End has many of the city's "old money" neighborhoods, especially along South Grandview and Fremont Avenues, and around the Dubuque Golf & Country Club. Many South End neighborhoods have a more spacious and park-like appearance, contrasting with the more urban North End.
Other Important sites in the South End include:
Dubuque's West Side is a large, mostly suburban area settled almost entirely after the Second World War. Development was spurred by the onset of the massive baby boom generation, and sharply higher demand for new housing in the city. Expansion began with the construction of the "John Deere Homes" in the Hillcrest Park neighborhood, which were financed by Deere & Company for its workers. Soon after, many large shopping centers were built, including Plaza 20, and the then-largest enclosed shopping mall in Iowa, Kennedy Mall.
Today, the area continues to expand at a rapid pace, with new subdivisions and shopping centers stretching out for miles from the city's downtown. The West Side is not clearly defined, but is generally considered to include all of the suburban-style growth west of North Grandview Avenue, the University of Dubuque, and the Valentine Park neighborhood. The area is home to a wide variety of mostly middle-class neighborhoods and city parks, but also includes many of the city's largest schools, industrial parks, and all of its large shopping centers. The expansion of the area has also led to rapid growth in suburban Asbury and exurban Peosta, Iowa, both of which adjoin the West Side.
Other Important sites in the West Side include:
Dubuque's waterfront features the Ice Harbor, where the Diamond Jo Casino and William M. Black are based. Recently the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, the Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark, and the Grand River Event Center have been built just north of the Ice Harbor. Land for this project was acquired from several businesses through condemnation of their properties under eminent domain.
Dubuque is also the home of the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps. The Colts are a Drum Corps International Division I ensemble and tour the country each summer to attend drum corps competitions. Each summer the Colts and Dubuque host "Music on the March," a Drum Corps International-sanctioned marching competition at Dubuque Senior High School. Dubuque is the second-smallest city in the nation to support a Division I drum corps.
The movies F.I.S.T. and Take This Job and Shove It were filmed in Dubuque as well as various scenes from Field of Dreams. About 25 miles west of the city is the town of Dyersville, Iowa. Dyersville is the home of the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier and of the Field of Dreams movie site.
Some other companies with a large presence in the area include: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Diamond Jo Casino(400), ThermoFisher (400), A.Y. McDonald Mfg. (375), Nordstrom (250), Alliant Energy, Swiss Valley, The Metrix Company, and Cottingham & Butler.
In recent years, Dubuque's economy has grown very rapidly. In fact, in 2005, the city had the 22nd-highest job growth rate in the nation, far outpacing the rest of Iowa. This ranking placed the city in a level of growth similar to Austin, Texas, and Orlando, Florida, among others. The city created over 10% of the new jobs in Iowa in 2005. Also, the number of jobs in Dubuque County has reached new all-time highs, with over 57,000 people working in non-farming jobs. Many new and existing businesses have announced significant expansion plans, including: Sedgwick CMS, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Deere and Company, Cottingham & Butler, Quebecor World Inc., Namasco, and many others.
There were 22,560 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,785, and the median income for a family was $46,564. Males had a median income of $31,543 versus $22,565 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,616. About 5.5% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.3% of those under age 18 and 12.5% of those age 65 or over.
Since its founding, Dubuque has had, and continues to have, a strong religious tradition. Local settlers established what would become the first Christian church in Iowa, St. Raphael's, in 1833. The city also played a key role in the expansion of the Roman Catholic Church into the Western United States, as it was the administrative center for Catholics in what is now Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Many important Catholic religious leaders have lived in Dubuque, including Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, Bishop Mathias Loras, Clement Smyth, and Mother Mary Frances Clarke.
The modern religious character of the city is still dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. Although sources vary, Catholics make up between 65-85% of city residents, with even higher percentages in the surrounding rural areas. This contrasts with the remainder of Iowa, which is only 23% Catholic. The city proper is home to 52 different churches (11 Catholic, 40 Protestant, 1 Orthodox), and 1 Jewish Synagogue (Reform). In addition to churches, 5 religious colleges, 4 area convents, and a nearby abbey and monastery add to the city's religious importance. Most of non-Catholic population in the city belongs to various Protestant denominations. Dubuque is home to three theological seminaries: St. Pius X seminary, pre-theology for Roman Catholic men discerning a call to ordained priesthood, the University of Dubuque, with the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Wartburg Theological Seminary, with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. These latter two institutions train both lay and ordained ministers for placements in churches nationwide.
Dubuque is also the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque, which directly administers 1/3 of Iowa's territory for the church, and is the head of the Ecclesiastical Province of Dubuque, the entire state of Iowa.
The council comprises the mayor, Roy D. Buol, who serves as its chairman, 4 ward-elected members, and 2 at-large members. The city council members are: Kevin Lynch (Ward 1), Karla Braig (Ward 2), Joyce E. Connors (Ward 3), Dirk Voetberg (Ward 4), Ric Jones (at-large), and David Resnick (at-large). The city council meets at 6:30 P.M. on the first and third Mondays of every month in the council chamber of the Historic Federal Building. The city is divided into 4 electoral wards and 21 precincts, as stated in Chapter 17 of the Dubuque City Code.
In the Iowa General Assembly, Dubuque is represented by Senator Mike Connolly (D) in the Iowa Senate, and Representatives Pam Jochum (D), and Pat Murphy (D) in the Iowa House of Representatives. At the federal level, it is within Iowa's 1st congressional district, represented by Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dubuque, and all of Iowa, are represented by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R) and Tom Harkin (D).
|City Council of Dubuque, Iowa|
|Mayor||Roy D. Buol|
|First Ward||Kevin Lynch|
|Second Ward||Karla Braig|
|Third Ward||Joyce E. Connors|
|Fourth Ward||Dirk Voetberg|
For the most part, Dubuque has maintained itself as a Democratic stronghold, even in recent years, but they are seeing changes in the total political climate, with more voters registering independent or Republican.
Public high schools in Dubuque include:
Private high schools in Dubuque:
Dubuque is also home to a large number of higher education instutitions. Loras College and Clarke College are both 4-year schools associated with the Roman Catholic Church. They are 2 of the 3 colleges operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque. Protestant colleges in the city include the University of Dubuque, which is associated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), and Emmaus Bible College, connected with the Plymouth Brethren movement. There are also 3 theological seminaries operating in the city, the St. Pius X Seminary (Roman Catholic,associated with Loras College), the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (Presbyterian), and Wartburg Theological Seminary (Lutheran ELCA). Other schools in the area include Northeast Iowa Community College, which operates its largest campus in nearby Peosta, Iowa and has a satellite campus in Dubuque, and Capri Cosmetology College, in Dubuque.
Dubuque's other hospital is The Finley Hospital, which is a member of the Iowa Health System's network of hospitals. Finley is JCAHO accredited, and currently has 158 beds. It is unofficially Dubuque's "cancer hospital," as it has significant oncology-related facilities, including the Wendt Regional Cancer Center. The hospital campus has expanded in recent years, with the construction of several new buildings.
Among other health care facilities, the city is home to two major outpatient clinics. Medical Associates Clinic is the oldest multi-specialty group practice clinic in Iowa, and currently operates two major outpatient clinics in Dubuque, its "East" and "West" campuses. It is affiliated with Mercy Medical Center - Dubuque, and also operates its own HMO, Medical Associates Health Plans. Affiliated with the Finley Hospital is Dubuque Internal Medicine, which is Iowa's largest internal medicine group practice clinic.
Iowa State Highway 3 begins in Dubuque along a shared route with Highway 52, and connects the city with central and western Iowa. Iowa State Highway 32, locally known as the "Northwest Arterial," acts as a beltway for parts of the North End and West Side. Eventually, this 4-lane highway will be extended southeast, to connect with highways 151 & 61 near Key West, Iowa and the Dubuque Regional Airport. This section will be called the "Southwest Arterial."
The airport's operator, the City of Dubuque, continues to court additional carriers to add service to the airport. This will likely happen, since the Dubuque Regional Airport has reported steadily increasing passenger numbers over the years, and, up until recently, had service from 3 different carriers (prior to 9/11). In early November 2007, it was announced that October 2007 was the best month ever for American Eagle airline at the Dubuque Regional Airport, according to Robert Grierson, Dubuque Regional Airport manager. "We had 4,510 total revenue passenger enplanements; that is a record for American Eagle in Dubuque," said Grierson. "American Eagle averaged a 79.82 percent enplanement load factor. Load factors are determined by how many revenue passengers were on the plane versus how many seats are available."
In the coming years, a $23 million new terminal will be built to modernize and expand the airport.
Also of note are ongoing discussions about extending passenger rail service to Dubuque on a proposed Dubuque-Chicago rail line. The proposal was one of 10 major projects citizens identified in the "Envision 2010" community planning process.