Inter-Urban Transportation

Des Moines, Iowa’s population was booming by the 1880s. People were looking for ways to get out of downtown and move into the suburbs. One of the contributing factors in the development of Highland Park and the college was access to inner urban transportation.

The presentation below highlights the route from downtown to the northern suburbs. Well worth a watch.


Ethelyn Hick (1924)

Professor Charles Robertson wrote a letter to George Hicks in 1924, outlining their daughter’s opportunities at Des Moines University. His main goal was to persuade her parents into convincing Ethelyn to complete her studies rather than run a household. Professor’s letter did not prove successful for the pull of marriage was far stronger for Ethelyn Hick-Cresap than completing her studies in education at Des Moines University.

Images: Courtesy of Stephanie Burris. “The Forgotten Iowa Historical Society.” Closed Group. Facebook. 2019 July 19. Accessed: 13 October 2019. Location.

The Gable Apartments (1937)

Courtesy of Google Maps.

Des Moines University (where Park Fair Mall is today) owned more than just the campus property as part of its endowment. The Gable Apartments (1613-21 9th Avenue) provided the school with additional income and would become embroiled in a three-year legal dispute.

The Great Depression had taken its toll on the tax rolls of Des Moines. When Des Moines University had closed its doors in 1929 due to a student riot, it ended up in the hands of a receiver. The city claimed the university’s property was no longer an educational institution and needed to pay the back taxes due from 1933-1936. The receiver challenged this claim in court stating it was still a school whether its doors were open or not and should still be eligible for tax exemption status.

By 1937 a settlement was reached. Of the $ $5,176 due, only $2,500 was collected.

“Tax Exception Suit Is Filed,” Des Moines Register, April 21, 1937,
“Delays Decision in Tax Sale Suit,” Des Moines Tribune, November 30, 1937,
“Suit Fights Gables Sale,” Des Moines Register, November 30, 1937,
“Tax Sale Suit of Gables Delayed,” Des Moines Register, December 1, 1937,
“Apartment Tax Dispute Ended,” Des Moines Register, April 1, 1938,