11 ways downtown has changed in a decade
This post is part of a series this week on the ways Des Moines has changed in 10 years.
Some of the biggest changes over the last 10 years in Des Moines have taken place downtown. Some of them are obvious – like the Pappajohn Sculpture Park (2009) or Principal Riverwalk (officially, 2013) – but others are easier to forget. And if you stack them up, it's quite a list:
Wells Fargo Arena. The arena first opened its doors on July 14, 2005, for Tony Hawk's Boom Boom Huck Jam, the first of almost 1,500 events in the years since. Various nicknames never quite caught on, including the Well, the Silo, the Crib, the Bin or various other nods to location next to "the Barn" – now called Veterans Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center.
Science Center of Iowa. The museum and Blank IMAX Dome Theater opened in May 2005. The organization was founded 35 years earlier as the Des Moines Center of Science and Industry, atop a hill in Greenwood-Ashworth Park.
Raygun. The self-described "greatest store in the universe" was part of the East Village's retail revolution, along with Kitchen Collage, Eden, Porch Light and others. The cheeky T-shirt shop opened as Smash in 2005, changed its name in 2009 (to avoid a lawsuit from another Smash in California), and opened in Iowa City in 2010, Kansas City in 2014, and a big new East Village flagship store earlier this year. The staffers are "now all filthy rich but show up for work anyway," according to the store's website.
Brenton Skating Plaza. The ice rink opened at the end of 2006. Its high-tech canopy for summer events arrived in 2014.
Des Moines Public Library. The central branch of the public library system opened in 2006 in a copper-windowed, garden-roofed building designed by David Chipperfield. The library's former home on the river re-opened in 2013 as the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates.
Restaurants, from Americana to Zombie Burger. Add in Akebono, Django, Malo, Fong's Pizza, el Bait Shop, the High Life, Gusto, Mullets and Tacopocalypse and it's hard to remember where we were eating in 2005. A cave maybe? Or Perkins? Keep in mind: Iowa's first Starbucks opened in the renovated Temple for Performing Arts just three years earlier – and only after Gov. Tom Vilsack called the coffee honchos to lobby them.
80/35 Music Festival. The Roots and The Flaming Lips headlined the festival in 2008, back before anybody really knew if crowds would show up. The event now draws more than 30,000 every year. As Ryan Peterson of Ankeny recently pointed out on Facebook: "What you had in issue #2 of Juice: Me, writing a letter urging people to support live music in Des Moines. What you had at 80/35 last weekend: Me, complaining that there were too many people supporting live music."
Des Moines Social Club. The club hosted its first event, "The Subjective Circus," in 2008 in a run-down building at 1408 Locust St., moved to the Kirkwood Hotel in 2012, and rang in 2014 with a New Year's party at it current digs in a renovated fire station.
Gas Lamp and Wooly's. Downtown's two bookends for live music opened in 2011 the Western Gateway (in the former Blues on Grand space) and 2012 in the East Village (in a building that once housed a Woolworth department store, hence the name).
Start-up community. Although the concentration of tech start-ups on "Silicon Sixth" Avenue have scattered a bit, "the national attention around Dwolla (which is post-2005) has really helped to raise the start-up community's visibility," Geoff Wood, founder of the co-working community Gravitate, recently wrote on Facebook.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. After years of financial woes, the former Botanical Center of Greater Des Moines re-opened last fall with an expansive new garden that overlooks the river.