Ames wins best college town in America, Iowa City stagnant

In a recent ranking of the best college towns in America, Ames ranked as number one while Iowa City lagged behind in the number seven slot.


Margaret Kispert

People walk around downtown on Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017. Iowa City was named City of Literature by Unesco City of Literature.

Rachel Steil, News Reporter

One of the longest-standing rivalries in Iowa is the infamous quarrel between the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State University Cyclones. The Cy-Hawk football tournament this weekend will take place in what many consider the top college town — and it’s not Iowa City.

A recent ranking of the top 30 college towns in America from 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion company, claims that Ames is better than Iowa City.  

Home to ISU, Ames was ranked as the number one college town in America, while Iowa City was placed in the number seven slot.

The news of this ranking comes just days before the Cyclones and Hawkeyes compete for the Cy-Hawk Trophy at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Sept. 14. Although the rivalry between Ames and Iowa City is relatively rooted in college sports, the tensions extend well beyond arenas and stadiums.  

According to the article, the rankings are based on statistics collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Determining factors include the population of the town enrolled in college, number of colleges and universities in the area, adults with a bachelor’s degree, median age, the 2018 unemployment rate, and the number of bars and restaurants per 100,000 people. 

UI freshmen Libbey Horvath and Makhenna Jordan stated that the statistics which contributed to the article may not be the most representative or fair.  

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“The bachelor’s degree [statistic] is closed off,” Jordan said. “Not everyone goes to college to get a bachelor’s degree.” 

Jordan and Horvath think the article should have taken a statistic such as job placement following college graduation into account. Horvath said that Iowa City beats Ames as a college town because the UI campus is more friendly than the ISU campus.  

“There’s so much more on-campus living and community [in Iowa City],” Horvath explained.  

 The pair also said they find Iowa City to be more accessible to students than in Ames.  

“Everything [on campus] is so close together,” Horvath said. “In Ames, [the campus] is so spread out.”  

ISU sophomore Marcella Anderson argued that Ames offers a better college town experience than Iowa City, saying that she thinks it’s lovely and rightfully earned the number one spot.  

“I feel like Ames has a consistent charm to it,” Anderson said. “Iowa City seems to have more ups and downs―higher highs and lower lows.”  

Anderson claims that Ames has more green space and trees than Iowa City, which makes it a more aesthetically appealing town.  

“No matter what time of year it is, our campus is gorgeous and our lake is beautiful,” Anderson said.  

Thomas Poggemiller attended ISU for three semesters of college and then transferred to the UI in the spring of 2019. He is currently a UI junior. 

“The main differences I would say between Iowa City and Ames is the setting and the culture surrounding each city,” Poggemiller said.  

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Poggemiller added that he feels Iowa City is more to the UI than Ames is to ISU. He explained that this is both positive and negative in both cities. 

“Iowa City is a town that surrounds the university, with the downtown area directly next to Iowa’s campus,” Poggemiller said. “In Ames, the university is almost its own entity, separate from the town.” 

Poggemiller described Ames as a suburbia in a rural setting, while Iowa City is beyond urban.  

“Iowa City is far more connected to the arts in comparison to Ames,” Poggemiller said. “In Iowa City, it is quite easy to go see someone perform music, go look at paintings, or see street art when walking anywhere.” 

He said that, ultimately, he could not decide which town is better because each town has something to offer and are difficult to compare. 

“I have a lot of love for both of the two cities,” Poggemiller said.