Ames is the larger principal city of the Ames-Boone CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Ames metropolitan area (Story County) and the Boone micropolitan area (Boone County, which had a combined population of 106,205 at the 2000 census.
As of the census of 2000, there were 50,731 people, 18,085 households, and 8,970 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,352.3 people per square mile (908.1/km²). There were 18,757 housing units at an average density of 869.7/sq mi (335.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.34% White, 7.70% Asian, 2.65% African American, Native American, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.76% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.98% of the population.
There were 18,085 households out of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.0% were married couples living together, 5.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.4% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.85.
In the city the population was spread out with 14.6% under the age of 18, 40.0% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 13.9% from 45 to 64, and 7.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 109.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,042, and the median income for a family was $56,439. Males had a median income of $37,877 versus $28,198 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,881. About 7.6% of families and 20.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.2% of those under age 18 and 4.1% of those age 65 or over.
Iowa is a "battleground state" that has trended slightly Democratic in recent years, but Ames, like Iowa City, trends Democratic, partly due to the presence of the university community. Because Iowa is the first caucus state and Ames is a college town, it is the site of many political appearances, debates and events, especially during election years.
During every August in which the Republican presidential nomination is undecided (meaning there is no incumbent Republican president -- as in, most recently, 2007, 1999, 1995 and 1987), the town plays host to the Ames Straw Poll, which gauges support for the various Republican candidates amongst attendees of a fundraising dinner benefiting the Iowa Republican Party. The straw poll dates back to 1979, and is frequently seen as a first test of organizational strength in Iowa by the national media and party insiders; as such, it can be very beneficial for a candidate to win the straw poll and thus enhance his aura of inevitability or show off a superior field operation.
Ames was also serviced by the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Railroad via a branch from Kelly to Iowa State University and to downtown Ames. The tracks were removed in the 1960s. The Chicago and Northwestern used to operate a branch to Des Moines. This line was removed in the 1980s when the Spine Line though Nevada was purchased from the Rock Island Railroad after its bankruptcy. The Union Pacific, successor to the C&NW, still runs 60-70 trains a day through the ISU campus and downtown Ames on twin mainlines which leads to some traffic delays. There is also a branch to Eagle Grove that leaves Ames to the north. The Union Pacific maintains a small yard called Ames Yard east of Ames between Ames and Nevada.
There is also a municipal airport, KAMW, southeast of Ames. The airport is currently operated by only one FBO, Hap's Air Service. The City of Ames offers a transit system throughout town called " Cy-Ride" that is funded jointly by Iowa State University, the ISU Government of the Student Body, and the City of Ames.
Campustown is the neighborhood directly south of Iowa State University Central Campus bordered by Lincoln Way on the north. Campustown is a high-density mixed-use neighborhood that is home to many student apartments, nightlife venues, restaurants, Varsity Theater, and numerous other establishments.
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