Washington, Iowa
   One of the Best 100 Small Towns in America

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About Washington

Photo of  fountain courtesy of Cathy Lloyd 

Why is Washington, Iowa rated as one of the 100 Best Small Towns in America?

Author Norman Crampton has three times rated small towns from 5,000 to 15,000 around the country based on a number of factors.  Washington is very pleased to have been selected to appear on the list all three  times.  Washington is a unique community with many strengths.  In addition, the community is enriched by the colorful surrounding towns and the neighboring Iowa City metro area. 

Crampton, Norman, The 100 Best Small Towns in America, 2nd Edition, 1995. Macmillan, USA       Crampton, Norman, Making Your Move to One of America's Best Small Towns, 2002.M. Evans and Company



Primary Ranking Factors

  1. Population.   7,047 (-0.4%)
  2. Housing   3BR, 2BA house sells in the range of $80,000-$120,000
  3. Local banks.   4, three are locally owned
  4. Proportion of residents in the 20-44 age group.   29.64% (2000)
  5. Crime rate.   2.1% (US avg. 5.9%)
  6. Hospital.   Washington County Hospital & Clinics, 40 beds
  7. High School.   395 students in grade 10-12, graduates 97%, sends 90% to college/university. 

Secondary Ranking Factors

  1. Is the town a county seat?   Yes. Washington County, Iowa.
  2. Does it have a newspaper? Daily or weekly?   Daily Newspaper is Washington Evening Journal and the local radio station is KCII
  3. Does it have a college or university?   Kirkwood Community College Satellite Campus, plus Big-Ten University of Iowa 30 minutes north.
  4. Is there a formally organized program to train residents to assume positions of community responsibility?   Chamber of Commerce has operated the "Leadership Washington" program since 1989 with about 18-20 graduates annually.
  5. Is there a community economic development program?   Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) founded in 1985.
  6. Is the town a "Main Street" town (a member of the national organization that assists towns with downtown redevelopment)?   Yes. Washington was designated  a Main Street town on March 4, 2008.
  7. Is there a local program to assist low-income residents in acquiring housing, such as Habitat for Humanity?   Washington Habitat for Humanity has built 6 homes, including 2 completed in 2000 and land for 3 more. WEDG also is developing a 34-lot affordable housing subdivision with down payment assistance.

For all the facts about Washington, refer to Quick Reference.

The City of Washington, with a population of 7,100, is centrally located in Southeast Iowa just 30 minutes south of Iowa City/Coralville.  Washington, founded in 1839, is the county seat of Washington County, one of the leading hog producing areas in the nation.  The city offers a daily local newspaper and a local AM-FM radio station.  The city plays host to 17 churches and over 100 social and service clubs and organizations.  There are several vintage homes and buildings which are listed on the National Register of Historical Places.  Washington supports a great mini-bus transportation system.  The community hosts several special events throughout the year including: a Farmer's Market, Car Shows, Craft Shows, Fourth of July Celebration, Christmas Tour of Homes, and several annual parades.

Centennial Fountain in Central Park

This fountain was constructed and dedicated in 1939 for Washington's Centennial Celebration.  It is the only one of its type in the continental United States.  The fountain was refurbished in 1995 by a group of local citizens.  It features a multi-colored light show and is the focus of Central Park in downtown Washington.  The downtown park is surrounded by a square filled with unique retail, professional offices, and service businesses.



Washington's extensive Parks system allows for endless recreational opportunities including: Sunset Park with its new two million dollar Aquatic Center, Frisbee Golf, Large Wooden Playground, Bike/Skateboard Park, and Tennis Courts. The 13 mile Kewash Nature Trail offers excellent hiking, biking, and cross country skiing opportunities. In addition, the Washington Community Y offers organized youth and adult sports activities, a Senior Center, weight and nautilus room, and with an indoor pool they offer swimming lessons for all ages and water exercise classes for adults.

The community is full of historical sites including: the DAR Log Cabin in Sunset Park, Conger House Museum, Central Park Fountain with its beautiful multicolored light show, and F-troop Military Museum. Washington boasts a Municipal Band, a tradition since 1932, which plays a weekly concert series on an open air bandstand in Central Park each summer. The local Community Center is a 22,000 square foot modern structure accommodating cultural and educational programming for the surrounding area.

Copyright � 2001 Washington Area Chamber of Commerce. All rights reserved

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