Main street in Forest City in the early 1900s.


A community is a place where people live. In Iowa people live in rural areas, towns or cities.

Since the days of the Paleo-Indians, communities have been important to the residents of the land that became known as Iowa. Early Indian tribes lived together in groups. Sometimes their communities moved from place to place. They were not always defined by physical boundaries. 

European settlers formed communities in Iowa. Their communities were defined by physical characteristics such as a town or rural area. Sometimes their unique communities were clustered in one area of a city or town. They became neighborhoods made up of people with a common language and customs. 

Iowa has more communities—large and small—than almost any other state in the nation. Look at a map of Iowa, and you will see hundreds of dots representing towns and cities. Explore how these communities developed. Discover how changes in communities tell the story of changes in the people, ideas and industries of the state.