Charles City, Iowa
Location of Charles City, Iowa
|o Total||6.30 sq mi (16.32 km2)|
|o Land||6.22 sq mi (16.10 km2)|
|o Water||0.09 sq mi (0.22 km2)|
|Elevation||1,007 ft (307 m)|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||1,175.51/sq mi (453.86/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0455354|
Charles City is a city in and the county seat of Floyd County, Iowa, United States. Charles City is a significant commercial and transportation center for the area. U.S. Routes 18 and 218, Iowa Highway 14, and the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railroads serve the city. The population was 7,652 at the 2010 census, a decrease of 2%, from 7,812 in 2000.
In 1851 Joseph Kelly, the first-known European-American settler in the area, came here after the Ho-Chunk had been pushed out. He believed that the site was ideal for a town, as it had water from the Cedar River and adjacent timberland to supply building needs. The settlement was first called "Charlestown" after his son. By 1852, twenty-five other settler families had joined Kelly. The town name was changed, first to "St. Charles" and then to "Charles City," to avoid duplication of other Iowa town names.
Charles City became the county seat after Floyd County was established in 1851 and officially organized in 1854. Floyd County was named for Sergeant Charles Floyd, a member of the 1804 Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Charles City is known for the role it played in the history of the American tractor. A native son Charles Walter Hart, whose father owned three local farms, met Charles H. Parr in college. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Hart and Parr developed a two-cylinder gasoline engine. They set up their Hart-Parr Gasoline Engine Company in Charles City in 1897. In 1901 the two founders coined the word "tractor", with Latin roots and a combination of the words "traction" and "power". In 1903 the firm built fifteen "tractors", the first successful production-model tractor line in the U.S. The 14,000-pound No. 3 is the oldest surviving internal combustion engine tractor in the United States. It is displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.
In 1929, Hart-Parr was one of the four companies that merged to form Oliver Farm Equipment Company and finally the White Farm-New Idea Equipment Co. At its peak in the mid-1970s, the sprawling plant complex encompassed 23 acres and employed nearly 3,000 workers. The 1980s farm crisis and other economic pressures led to the closing of the plant in 1993. As of 2013, the vacant site stands ready for re-use.
Although best known for producing tractors, the Hart-Parr company also made some of the first washing machines. They sold for $155 in the 1920s, and the buyer had the option of ordering either an electric or gasoline engine.
The Floyd County Historical Museum preserves the plant's history and memories in an extensive collection of documents and artifacts.
National women's rights leader Carrie Lane Chapman Catt spent her girlhood years on a farm south of Charles City. Catt is well known as a prominent leader of the woman's suffrage movement and was instrumental in gaining passage of the 19th Amendment, ratified on August 18, 1920, which granted women the right to vote. Carrie Catt also founded the League of Women Voters. Her home and a visitor's center are open for public viewing.
On June 9, 2008, record flooding caused major damage in the town. Charles City's historic suspension bridge, which crossed over the Cedar River, collapsed. Numerous homes around the city were also destroyed. A new bridge, built with FEMA and state funding, opened in early 2010.
Charles City is in a location subject to tornadoes, and has been severely damaged by them many times in its history. In the summer of 1858 (possibly July 21), while still known as the village of St. Charles, a "Terrific Tornado" was recorded. There were 16 deaths, 13 inside the village. The property value of buildings destroyed was into the thousands of dollars (1858 dollars), and the loss of crops was said to be "beyond competition", according to the newspaper account.
In June 1908 (possibly June 7), a tornado destroyed or substantially damaged around 200 homes and barns. Residents W. R. Beck and a child were killed. The path of the tornado ran through the southeast part of the city, missing the business district. Loss of property was fifty thousand dollars (1908 dollars).
Many people around the region remember Charles City as the site of a devastating F5 tornado that ripped through town on May 15, 1968. It resulted in 13 dead, hundreds injured, and massive One of the largest twisters ever recorded in the state, this storm destroyed much of the downtown - 256 businesses and 1,250 homes. Damage estimates were of more than $20 million.
The peak of population was in 1950. The loss of industrial jobs has led to a decline in residents.
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,652 people, 3,440 households, and 1,964 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,230.2 inhabitants per square mile (475.0/km2). There were 3,761 housing units at an average density of 604.7 per square mile (233.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.7% White, 2.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.0% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.6% of the population.
There were 3,440 households, of which 26.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.9% were non-families. 38.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.86.
The median age in the city was 42.9 years. 23% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.7% were from 25 to 44; 24.5% were from 45 to 64; and 23.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.0% male and 53.0% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,812 people, 3,339 households, and 2,083 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,269.9 people per square mile (490.4/km2). There were 3,597 housing units at an average density of 584.7 per square mile (225.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.92% White, 0.44% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.19% Pacific Islander, 0.79% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.12% of the population.
There were 3,339 households, out of which 27.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.3% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.6% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.82.
Age spread: 23.2% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 24.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 84.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,568, and the median income for a family was $38,297. Males had a median income of $29,536 versus $19,904 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,659. About 8.5% of families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.6% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.
Charles City is served by the Charles City Community School District., which includes the Charles City High School. There were two former institutions called Charles City College, the first a Methodist college that was absorbed into Morningside College in the 1910s, and the second a short lived branch of Parsons College in the late 1960s.
Charles City is served by the following local media outlets: