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Cedar Falls, Iowa
Downtown Cedar Falls, August 2017
Downtown Cedar Falls, August 2017
Flag of Cedar Falls, Iowa
Location within Black Hawk County and Iowa
Location within Black Hawk County and Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa is located in Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Location in Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa is located in the United States
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State Iowa
County Black Hawk
 • Total 30.29 sq mi (78.44 km2)
 • Land 29.43 sq mi (76.23 km2)
 • Water 0.85 sq mi (2.21 km2)
879 ft (268 m)
 • Total 40,713
 • Rank 13th in Iowa
 • Density 1,383.24/sq mi (534.07/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code 319
FIPS code 19-11755
GNIS ID 455240

Cedar Falls is a city in Black Hawk County, Iowa, United States. As of the 2020 census, the city population was 40,713. It is home to the University of Northern Iowa, a public university.


Cedar Falls was founded in 1845 by William Sturgis. It was originally named Sturgis Falls, for the first family who settled the site and who continued to live in the city for years. The city was called Sturgis Falls until it was merged with Cedar City (another city on the other side of the Cedar River), creating Cedar Falls. The city's founders are honored each year with a week long community-wide celebration named in their honor – the Sturgis Falls Celebration.

Because of the availability of water power, Cedar Falls developed as a milling and industrial center prior to the Civil War. The establishment of the Civil War Soldiers' Orphans Home in Cedar Falls changed the direction in which the city developed when, following the war, it became the first building on the campus of the Iowa State Normal School (now the University of Northern Iowa).


Cedar Falls is located at 42°31′24″N 92°26′45″W / 42.52333°N 92.44583°W / 42.52333; -92.44583 (42.523520, −92.446402). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.61 square miles (76.69 km2), of which 28.75 square miles (74.46 km2) is land and 0.86 square miles (2.23 km2) is water.

Natural forest, prairie and wetland areas are found within the city limits at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 3,070
1880 3,020 −1.6%
1890 3,459 14.5%
1900 5,319 53.8%
1910 5,012 −5.8%
1920 6,316 26.0%
1930 7,362 16.6%
1940 9,349 27.0%
1950 14,334 53.3%
1960 21,195 47.9%
1970 29,597 39.6%
1980 36,322 22.7%
1990 34,298 −5.6%
2000 36,145 5.4%
2010 39,260 8.6%
2020 40,713 3.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
Cedar FallsIowaPopPlot
The population of Cedar Falls, Iowa from US census data

Cedar Falls is part of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metropolitan area.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 39,260 people, 14,608 households, and 8,091 families living in the city. The population density was 1,365.6 inhabitants per square mile (527.3/km2). There were 15,477 housing units at an average density of 538.3 per square mile (207.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.4% White, 2.1% African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.0% of the population.

There were 14,608 households, of which 24.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 44.6% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% 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 2.88.

The median age in the city was 26.8 years. 17.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 29.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 20.5% were from 25 to 44; 20.1% were from 45 to 64; and 12.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.1% male and 51.9% female.

Arts and culture

In 1986, the City of Cedar Falls established the Cedar Falls Art and Culture Board, which oversees the operation of the City's Cultural Division and the James & Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts.


The Cedar Falls Public Library is housed in the Adele Whitenach Davis building located at 524 Main Street. The 47,000 square foot (4,400 m2) structure, designed by Struxture Architects, replaced the Carniege-Dayton building in early 2004. As of 2021 the library has over 140,000 items in circulation. The library also provides public access to more than 30 public computers which provide internet access, office software suites, high resolution color printing, wi-fi, and various games.

The mission of the Cedar Falls Public Library is to promote literacy and provide open access to resources which facilitate lifelong learning. The library is a member of the Cedar Valley Library Consortium. Cedar Falls Public Library shares an Integrated Library System (SirsiDynix Symphony) with the Waterloo Public Library. Library management is provided by Kelly Stern, Director of the Cedar Falls Public Library.

Historical Society

The Cedar Falls Historical Society has its offices in the Victorian Home and Carriage House Museum. It preserves Cedar Falls' history through its five museums, collection, archives, and public programs. Besides the Victorian House, the Society operates the Cedar Falls Ice House, Little Red Schoolhouse, and Behrens-Rapp Station.


UNI Lang Hall
Lang Hall at University of Northern Iowa (UNI)
Seerley 1
Seerley Hall at University of Northern Iowa

It hosts one of three public universities in Iowa, University of Northern Iowa (UNI).

Cedar Falls Community Schools, which covers most of the city limits, includes Cedar Falls High School, two junior high schools, seven elementary schools. Waterloo Community School District covers a small section of Cedar Falls. There is a private Christian school, Valley Lutheran High School. Additionally there is a private Catholic elementary school at St. Patrick Catholic Church, under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque. A significant renovation occurred beginning in May 2014.

The Malcolm Price Lab School/Northern University High School, was a state-funded K–12 school run by the university. It closed in 2012 following cuts at UNI.

Utilities and internet access

The city owns its power, gas and water, and cable TV service. Because of this, Cedar Falls Utilities provides gigabit speeds to residents, this became available on January 14, 2015. Cedar Falls has the power to do so because, unlike 19 other states, Iowa does not prohibit municipal broadband from competing with the private cable TV monopoly. In 2020, Cedar Falls Utilities was recognized by PC Magazine as having the nation's fastest internet, by a factor of three.


FM radio
  • 88.1 KBBG
  • 88.9 KWVI
  • 89.5 KHKE
  • 90.9 KUNI (FM)
  • 92.3 KOEL-FM – Licensed to Oelwein with main studios in Waterloo
  • 93.5 KCVM
  • 94.5 KULT-LP
  • 97.7 KCRR – Licensed to Grundy Center with main studios in Waterloo
  • 98.5 KKHQ-FM
  • 99.3 KWAY-FM – Located in Waverly
  • 101.9 KNWS-FM
  • 105.1 KCFI
  • 105.7 KOKZ
  • 107.9 KFMW
AM radio
  • 600 WMT – Located in Cedar Rapids
  • 640 WOI – Located in Ames
  • 950 KOEL – Located in Oelwein
  • 1040 WHO – Located in Des Moines
  • 1090 KNWS
  • 1250 KCFI
  • 1330 KPTY
  • 1540 KXEL
  • 1650 KCNZ
Broadcast television
  • The Courier, daily newspaper
  • The Cedar Falls Times, weekly newspaper
  • The Cedar Valley What Not, weekly advertiser

The underground music scene in the Cedar Falls area from 1977 to present-day is well documented. The Wartburg College Art Gallery in Waverly, Iowa hosted a collaborative history of the bands, record labels, and music venues involved in the Cedar Falls music scene which ran from March 17 to April 14, 2007. This effort has been continued as a wiki-style website called The Secret History of the Cedar Valley.

Notable people

  • Trev Alberts – football player, 1993 Butkus Award (for best linebacker in NCAA Division I), All-American at Nebraska; a No. 1 draft choice of Indianapolis Colts, broadcaster, Director of Athletics at University of Nebraska-Omaha
  • Don Denkinger – Major League Baseball umpire, made controversial call in 1985 World Series
  • Travis Fulton – UFC fighter
  • David Johnson – running back for NFL's Arizona Cardinals, UNI alumnus
  • Bryce Paup – NFL player, UNI alumnus
  • Chad Rinehart – NFL player, Boone High School, UNI
  • Nick Ring – UFC fighter
  • Edgar Seymour – Olympic bobsledder
  • Terry Stotts – NBA player and coach
  • Dedric Ward – NFL wide receiver, UNI alumnus
  • Kurt Warner – NFL quarterback for St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals, Super Bowl champion, UNI alumnus
  • Ross Pierschbacher – NFL player
  • Isaac Boettger – NFL player
  • Karen Holvik – classical soprano, currently on the faculty of the Eastman School of Music
  • Nilo Hovey – acclaimed instrumental music pedagogue, author of numerous instrument method books
  • House of Large Sizes – an alternative rock band
  • Bonnie Koloc – folk singer, songwriter and musician, born in Waterloo, Iowa, attended UNI
  • Spirit of the Stairway – Mathcore band
  • Bill Stewart – jazz drummer and composer, attended UNI
  • Tracie Spencer – singer
  • Marv Diemer – Iowa state legislator
  • Charles Grassley – U.S. Senator, attended UNI
  • Gil Gutknecht – former Minnesota congressman
  • Roger Jepsen – former U.S. Senator
  • Gerald Guralnik – physicist, co-discoverer of the "Higgs Mechanism"
  • Bess Streeter Aldrich (1881–1954) – novelist
  • R.V. Cassill – novelist and short story writer
  • James Hearst – poet, farmer, professor of creative writing at UNI between 1941 and 1975
  • Helen Markley Miller (1896 – 1984), writer of historical and biographical fiction for children about the Western United States.
  • Ruth Suckow Nuhn (1892–1960) – author of short stories and novels (including Country People, The Folks, New Hope)
  • Ferner Nuhn (1903–1989) – literary critic, author of articles and essays, artist, Quaker activist
  • Nancy Price – author of Sleeping with the Enemy
  • Leland Sage – professor at UNI and historian
  • Robert James Waller – author of The Bridges of Madison County, attended UNI
  • Marc Andreessen – co-founder, Netscape Corporation
  • Raja Chari – astronaut
  • Adelia M. Hoyt (1865–1966) – Braille librarian, Library of Congress
  • John H. Livingston – aviator and air racer
  • Randy & Vicki Weaver – parents, John Deere Employee, Ruby Ridge incident
  • Tim Dodd – popular STEM communicator and YouTube Creator known as the "Everyday Astronaut"

See also

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