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Dubuque, Iowa
Downtown Dubuque, Iowa, Oct 2008
Downtown Dubuque, Iowa, Oct 2008
Flag of Dubuque, Iowa
Official seal of Dubuque, Iowa
Official logo of Dubuque, Iowa
"The Key City", "City of Five Flags", "Masterpiece on the Mississippi," "The Scenic Sunshine City"
"Showing the Spirit"
Location in the State of Iowa
Location in the State of Iowa
Country United States
State  Iowa
County Dubuque
Incorporated 1833
Founded by Julien Dubuque
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City 31.22 sq mi (80.86 km2)
 • Land 29.97 sq mi (77.62 km2)
 • Water 1.25 sq mi (3.24 km2)
617 ft (188 m)
 • City 57,637
 • Estimate 
 • Rank 10th in Iowa
 • Density 1,923.2/sq mi (742.6/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
52001–52004, 52099
Area code(s) 563
FIPS code 19-22395
GNIS feature ID 0456040

Dubuque is the county seat of Dubuque County, Iowa, United States, located along the Mississippi River. In 2013, its population was 58,253, making it the tenth-largest city in the state

This city lies at the junction of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, a region locally known as the Tri-State Area. It serves as the main commercial, industrial, educational, and cultural center for the area. Geographically, it is part of the Driftless Area, a portion of North America that escaped all three phases of the Wisconsinian Glaciation.

It is one of the few large cities in Iowa with hills, and a tourist destination featuring the city's unique architecture and river location. It is home to five institutions of higher education, making it a center for culture and learning.

Dubuque has long been a center of manufacturing, but the economy grew rapidly and diversified to other areas in the first years of the 21st Century. By 2005, the city led the state and the Midwest in job growth, ranking as the 22nd fastest-growing economy in the US. Alongside industry, the city has large health care, education, tourism, publishing, and financial service sectors.


Spain gained control of the Louisiana Territory west of the Mississippi River following the 1763 defeat of the French in the Seven Years' War; the British took over all territory to the east, as well as Canada.

The first permanent settler in what is now Dubuque was Quebecois pioneer Julien Dubuque, who arrived in 1785. In 1788, he received permission from the Spanish government and the local Meskwaki of American Indians to mine the area's rich lead deposits. Control of Louisiana and Dubuque's mines shifted briefly back to France in 1800, then to the United States in 1803, following the Louisiana Purchase. Dubuque died in 1810. The Meskwaki continued to mine with full support of the U.S. Government until 1830, when the Meskwaki were illegally pushed out of the mine region by American prospectors.

Saint Mary's, one of 11 Catholic churches in Dubuque.

The current City of Dubuque was named after Julien Dubuque, settled at the southern end of a large flat plain adjacent to the Mississippi River. The city was officially chartered in 1833, located in unorganized territory of the United States. The region was designated as the Iowa Territory in 1838, and was included in the newly created State of Iowa in 1846. After the lead resources were exhausted, the city became home to numerous industries. Dubuque became a center for the timber industry because of its proximity to forests in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and was later dominated by various millworking businesses. Also important were boat building, brewing, and later, the railroad industry.

Between 1860 and 1880, Dubuque was one of the 100 largest urban areas in the United States. Iowa's first church was built by Methodists in 1834. Since then, Iowans have followed a variety of religious traditions.

Dbq ghost 1
Old store

Beginning in the mid-19th century and into the early 20th century, thousands of poor German and Irish Catholic immigrants came to the city to work in the manufacturing centers. The city's large Roman Catholic congregations led to its designation as the seat of the newly established Archdiocese of Dubuque. Numerous convents, abbeys, and other religious institutions were built. The ethnic German and Irish descendants maintain a strong Catholic presence in the city. Nicholas E. Gonner (1835-1892), a Catholic immigrant from Pfaffenthal in Luxembourg, founded the Catholic Publishing Company of Dubuque, Iowa. His son Nicholas E. Gonner Jr. (1870-1922) took over in 1892, editing two German language weeklies, an English language weekly, and the Daily Tribune, the only Catholic daily newspaper ever published in the United States.

Early in the 20th century, Dubuque was one of several sites of a brass era automobile company, in this case Adams-Farwell; like most others, it folded. Subsequently, Dubuque grew significantly, and industrial activity remained the mainstay of the economy until the 1980s. During that time, a series of changes in manufacturing and the onset of the "Farm Crisis" led to a large decline in the sector, and the city's economy as a whole. However, the economy diversified rapidly in the 1990s, shifting away from heavy industry.

Today, tourism, high technology, and publishing are among the largest and fastest-growing businesses. Dubuque attracts well over 1,500,000 tourists annually, and this number continues to increase. The city has encouraged development of the America's River Project's tourist attractions in the Port of Dubuque, the expansion of the city's colleges, and the continued growth of shopping centers, such as Asbury Plaza.

Awards and recognition

Dubuque has received a number of awards and recognition for its redevelopment during the past decade.

  • 2001-1st recipient of the Vision Iowa Grant, awarded for $40 million to revitalize the Port of Dubuque.
  • 2006-Urban Pioneer Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in recognition of Dubuque's 20-year commitment to the revitalization of the city's center.
  • 2006- Audrey Nealson Community Development Achievement Award that is given out by the National Community Development Association. The award recognized exemplary uses of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds which best addressed the needs of low-income families and neighborhoods.
  • 2006-Money Magazine identified Dubuque as having the "shortest commute time" - 11.8 minutes, of all U.S cities.
  • 2007, 2008 and 2010-ranked among the "100 Best Communities for Young People" by the America's Promise Youth Foundation.
  • April 2007- ranked 15th in the "Best Small Places For Business and Careers'" ranking by Forbes magazine, climbing 60 spots from 2006.
  • June 2007-All-America City Award, one of 10 cities recognized nationally.
  • June 2008-Named as the "Most Livable" Small City by the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM).
  • 2009-ranked the 8th best small metro area to launch a small business by
  • 2009-Dubuque was honored as the United States Department of Commerce's Excellence in Economic Development for Excellence in Historic Preservation-led Strategies. Dubuque received the award for its commitment to research-based, market driven economic development in helping grow the local economy.
  • 2009-one of America's Top 100 Places to Live, by's .
  • 2009-"America's Crown Community Award," by American City and Country Magazine, for collaboration that resulted in IBM's decision to locate a new global technology service delivery center in Dubuque.
  • In 2010-Forbes has selected Dubuque as the best small city to raise a family in the country.
  • In 2010-Forbes ranked Dubuque as the top community for job growth, up from 157th in 2009.
  • 2010-Excellence in Economic Development Award, presented by the International Economic Development Council.
  • 2010-Greater Dubuque Development was recognized by the Mid-American Economic Development Council for its programs in Business Retention and Expansion and Workforce Development.
  • 2010-Third most livable community in the world at the International Awards for Livable Communities.
  • 2010-ranked 7th best city in the U.S. for economic growth of cities under 200,000 people, by Business Facilities Magazine.
  • 2010-ranked as the third best city for job growth by
  • 2011-one of the 10 smartest cities on the planet, Fast Company magazine. (Dubuque was the only city from the western hemisphere on the list.)
  • 2011-2010 Drinking Water Safe Revolving Loan Fund Award by EPA for Sustainable Public Health Protection.
  • 2012- Second All-America City Award, one of 10 cities recognized nationally.All-America City Award
  • 2013- Third All-America City Award, one of 10 cities recognized nationally.
  • 2014- USA Today named Dubuque the fourth "Best American Riverfront."
  • 2015- ASA D Northern National Men's Slow Pitch Champions. Team: Kass & Co.


Fourth Street Elevator car from above
One of the Fourth Street Elevator cars

Dubuque is located at 42°30′16″N 90°41′13″W / 42.50444°N 90.68694°W / 42.50444; -90.68694 (42.504321, -90.686865).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 31.22 square miles (80.86 km2), of which, 29.97 square miles (77.62 km2) is land and 1.25 square miles (3.24 km2) is water.



Downtown Dubuque is the location of the city's central business district and many of its government and cultural institutions. It is the center of Dubuque's transportation and commercial sectors, and functions as the hub to the various outlying districts and neighborhoods. It is located in the east-central portion of the city, along the Mississippi River, and includes all of the area north of Maus Park, south of 17th Street, east of the bluffline, and west of the river.

The area is made up of several distinct neighborhoods, each of which has a unique history and character. These neighborhoods include: Cable Car Square/Cathedral Square, the Central Business District, Jackson Park/Upper Main, Lower Main, and the Warehouse District. An area of special note within Downtown Dubuque is the Port of Dubuque, which has seen a massive amount of new investment and new construction. The downtown area includes a number of significant buildings, many of which are historic, reflecting the city's early and continuing importance to the region.

North End

Eagle Point Park in Dubuque's North End.

Dubuque's North End area was first settled in the late 19th century by working-class German immigrants to the city. The German-American community in Dubuque sought to establish their own German Catholic churches, separate from the Irish Catholic churches in Dubuque's downtown and South End. Today, the area still retains its working-class roots, and is still home to some of the largest factories operating in Dubuque.

The North End is roughly defined, but generally includes all of the territory north of 17th Street, and east of North Grandview Avenue and Kaufmann Avenue. The area is made up of two main hills (west of Central Avenue, and west of Lincoln Avenue), and two main valleys, the Couler Valley (between the two hills), and the "Point" neighborhood, adjacent to the Mississippi River. It is home to Dubuque's two main cemeteries, Linwood Cemetery (established for Protestants), and Mt. Calvary Cemetery (established for Catholics).

Other important sites in the North End include:

South End

The South End has been the traditional neighborhood of Irish-Americans in the city, and became known as "Little Dublin," specifically centered around southern portions of Downtown Dubuque. Remnants of Irish culture still survive in the South End, with Irish pubs such as Murph's South End Tap, The Lift, and stores such as Shamrock Imports still operating in the area. Irish culture in Dubuque also revolves around the city's Irish Catholic churches, namely: St. Columbkille's, St. Patrick's, and St. Raphael's Cathedral.

Today, the South End is much larger, and includes all of the land south of Dodge Street, east of Fremont Avenue but including areas of west of it, and north of the Key West area. The South End has many of the city's "old money" neighborhoods, especially along South Grandview and Fremont Avenues, and around the Dubuque Golf & Country Club. Many South End neighborhoods have a more spacious and park-like appearance, contrasting with the more urban North End.

Other Important sites in the South End include:

West End

Dubuque's West End is a large, mostly suburban area settled almost entirely after the Second World War. Development was spurred by the onset of the massive baby-boom generation, and sharply higher demand for new housing in the city. Expansion began with the construction of the "John Deere Homes" in the Hillcrest Park neighborhood, which were financed by Deere & Company for its workers. Soon after, many large shopping centers were built, including Plaza 20, and the then-largest enclosed shopping mall in Iowa, Kennedy Mall.

Today, the area continues to expand at a rapid pace, with new subdivisions and shopping centers stretching out for miles from the city's downtown. The West End is not clearly defined, but is generally considered to include all of the suburban-style growth west of North Grandview Avenue, the University of Dubuque, and the Valentine Park neighborhood. The area is home to a wide variety of mostly middle-class neighborhoods and city parks, but also includes many of the city's largest schools, industrial parks, and all of its large shopping centers. The expansion of the area has also led to rapid growth in suburban Asbury and exurban Peosta, Iowa, both of which adjoin the West Side.

Other Important sites in the West End include:


Dubuque has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), which gives it four distinct seasons. However, local weather is often not as extreme as that found in other parts of the Midwest, such as Minnesota or Wisconsin. Spring is usually wet and rainy, summers are sunny and warm, autumn is mild, and winters are typically cloudy and snowy.

Climate data for Dubuque, Iowa
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 25
Average low °F (°C) 9
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.3
Source: Weatherbase


Dubuque has several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • The Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens have won a number of awards.
  • The Dubuque County Courthouse, with its Beaux-Arts architecture, is on the register.
  • The Fourth Street Elevator (also known as the Fenelon Place Elevator ) is located in Downtown Dubuque. This elevator, which is the shortest and steepest railroad in existence, takes passengers up and down one of the large bluffs that dominate the city.
  • The Grand Opera House, a large, grandiose theatre in the downtown district, is one of the epicenters of Dubuque's thriving local theatre scene. Designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke, it was erected in 1890 and is on the register.
  • The Julien Dubuque Bridge is a National Historic Landmark.
  • Linwood Cemetery is noted for a number of famous people buried there.
  • The Shot Tower, which was used to produce lead shot and is one of the few such towers left in existence, is also a National Historic Landmark.

There are a number of notable parks in Dubuque, particularly Eagle Point Park and the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area.

The Grand River Center overlooks the Mississippi River in the Port of Dubuque.

Dubuque's waterfront features the Ice Harbor and just north of it, the Diamond Jo Casino and Grand River Event Center. Land for this project was acquired from several businesses through condemnation of their properties under eminent domain.

Dubuque is also the home of the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps. The Colts are a Drum Corps International World Class ensemble and tour the country each summer to attend drum corps competitions. Each summer the Colts and Dubuque host "Music on the March", a Drum Corps International-sanctioned marching competition at Dubuque Senior High School. Dubuque is the second-smallest city in the nation to support a World Class drum corps.


The city is home of the Dubuque Fighting Saints. They began playing in the Tier I Junior A United States Hockey League in the Fall of 2010 at the new Mystique Ice Center. Dubuque was home to the original Fighting Saints team from 1980-2001 when the team relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. From 2001-2010 The Dubuque Thunderbirds replaced the Fighting Saints playing in the Tier III Junior A Central States Hockey League at the Five Flags Center. The 2010-2011 Fighting Saints were USHL Clark Cup Champions after defeating the Green Bay Gamblers three games to one in the best-of-five Clark Cup Final. In 2013 the Fighting Saints again won the Clark Cup, defeating the Fargo Force three games to none in the best-of-five Final. The team averaged over 2,600 fans per game in the 2013-2014 regular season, the highest average in team history.



Dubuque's daily newspaper, the Telegraph Herald (or the "TH", as it is known locally), had a daily circulation of nearly 31,000 as of January 27, 2007. Several other important papers and journals also operate in the city, including Tri-State Business Times (monthly business paper), 365ink Magazine (bi-weekly alt/cultural magazine), Julien's Journal (monthly lifestyle magazine), the Dubuque Advertiser (advertisement paper) and the "Tri-States Sports Look" (local sports publication).


AM radio stations

(Strongest signal stations in bold)

  • WMT 600 "Newsradio", news/talk
  • KDTH 1370 "Voice of the Tri-States", news/talk
  • WDBQ 1490 "News, Talk, & Sports Leader", news/talk/sports
FM radio stations

(Strongest signal stations in bold)


Dubuque and surrounding areas are in the Cedar Rapids/Waterloo/Dubuque broadcast media market, which is monitored by the A.C. Nielsen Company for audience research data for advertisers. For years, Dubuque had a local TV news station (KFXA/KFXB Fox 28/40) until 2004, when that station became an affiliate of CTN. Currently, the Dubuque-based TV news is covered by KWWL-TV7 (Waterloo), and KCRG-TV9 (Cedar Rapids); both operate news bureaus in the city, and most of the city's major stories are covered by those stations. Since the closing of KFXA/KFXB, KWWL-TV has captured a majority of the local news market in Dubuque.

Dubuque in film

Several movies have been filmed in and around Dubuque, including:


St Raphaels Cathedral
Saint Raphael's Cathedral, the oldest church in Iowa

Dubuque Metropolitan Area

Dubuque is the main town in the Dubuque metropolitan area. It is at the junction of four major highways and two major railroads. Its location along the river has formed the city into a major Midwestern hub. The Dubuque Area is the general area encompassing Dubuque, Iowa. The area includes Dubuque County exclusively, and un- officially, but locally includes: Jackson County, Iowa, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, Grant County, Wisconsin. The official population of the Dubuque County was 93,653 as of the 2010 population estimates. Although, if you include the unofficial counties, the area's population is near 190,000.

  • Platteville - Platteville is the largest city in Grant County, and Southwest Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UWP),is located there. 10,000 people call Platteville home. Platteville is considered a micropolitan area.
  • Galena - Galena is Midwest — renowned for being a quaint mid-America town with boutiques and hundreds of shops along main street. Home of General Grant and eight other Civil War Union Generals. Some of the shops include furniture shops, several candy shops, multiple Bed and Breakfast establishments, a number of bars, and many gift shops as well. The town sits along the Galena River which runs to the Mississippi River. The population of Galena ranges between 3,500 and 4,000, making it easily the largest city in Jo Daviess County, Illinois.
  • East Dubuque - East Dubuque is sometimes called the Illinois Bar Capital. The population is only around 2000, but you could find at least 50 bars surrounding and in East Dubuque. East Dubuque is often abbreviated "ED." Most East Dubuquers work in either Galena, or Dubuque.
  • Asbury - At 4,170, Asbury is the second largest city in Dubuque County, surpassing Dyersville, Iowa in 2010. Asbury is a prime and vital suburb of the Dubuque area. Asbury has developed mass commercial districts along the Northwest Arterial, Highway 32 in Dubuque. It is likely that Asbury will continue to grow, and reach the 10,000 population mark in less than 15 years.
    Historical population
    Year Pop. ±%
    1850 3,108 —    
    1860 13,000 +318.3%
    1870 18,434 +41.8%
    1880 25,254 +37.0%
    1890 30,311 +20.0%
    1900 36,297 +19.7%
    1910 38,494 +6.1%
    1920 39,141 +1.7%
    1930 41,679 +6.5%
    1940 43,892 +5.3%
    1950 49,671 +13.2%
    1960 56,606 +14.0%
    1970 62,309 +10.1%
    1980 62,374 +0.1%
    1990 57,538 −7.8%
    2000 57,686 +0.3%
    2010 57,637 −0.1%
    2014 58,436 +1.4%
    2015 58,799 +0.6%
    U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 57,637 people, 23,506 households, and 13,888 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,923.2 inhabitants per square mile (742.6/km2). There were 25,029 housing units at an average density of 835.1 per square mile (322.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.7% White, 4.0% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.5% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.4% of the population.

There were 23,505 households of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.9% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.92.

The median age in the city was 38 years. 21.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 13% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.3% were from 25 to 44; 25.9% were from 45 to 64; and 16.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.


A stained glass image of Bishop Mathias Loras.

Since its founding, Dubuque has had, and continues to have, a strong religious tradition. Local Catholic settlers established what would become the first Christian church in Iowa, St. Raphael's Cathedral, in 1833. The city also played a key role in the expansion of the Roman Catholic Church into the Western United States, as it was the administrative center for Catholics in what is now Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Many important Catholic religious leaders have lived in Dubuque, including Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, Bishop Mathias Loras, Clement Smyth, and Mother Mary Frances Clarke. Roman Catholic parishes around the city include Saint Raphael's Cathedral Saint Mary's, Sacred Heart, Holy Ghost, Saint Patrick's, Saint Joseph the Worker, Resurrection, Saint Columbkille's and Saint Anthony's.

Since the 1870s the religious character of the area is still dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. In 2010, Catholic adherents who regularly attended services made up about 53% of Dubuque County residents. This contrasts with Iowa as a whole, which was about 17% Catholic in 2010. The city proper is home to 52 different churches (11 Catholic, 40 Protestant, 1 Orthodox), 1 Jewish synagogue, and 1 mosque. In addition to churches, 5 religious colleges, 4 area convents, and a nearby abbey and monastery add to the city's religious importance. Most of non-Catholic population in the city belongs to various Protestant denominations. Dubuque is home to three theological seminaries: St. Pius X Seminary (Dubuque, Iowa), Minor (College) Seminary for Roman Catholic men discerning a call to ordained priesthood, the University of Dubuque, with the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Wartburg Theological Seminary, with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. These latter two institutions train both lay and ordained ministers for placements in churches nationwide.

Dubuque is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque, which directly administers 1/3 of Iowa's territory for the church, and is the head of the Ecclesiastical Province of Dubuque, the entire state of Iowa.

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