A story wall in Downtown Iowa City.

A story wall entitled "A Mark was Made" has been recently installed in the Black Hawk Mini Park area of the Downtown Pedestrian Mall. The wall illuminates the impact that 17 Iowa Citians have had on the City from the 1830s until today.

The piece is located in the southwest corner of the Black Hawk Mini Park of the downtown Pedestrian Mall. it is adjacent to the Paul Hellen Building, which houses the Iowa Artisans Gallery, and the 110 S. Dubuque Street building, home to Buzz Salon.

The wall was created to become an evolving acknowledgement celebrating the leadership, activism, and creativity of those who have influenced the Iowa City community and beyond. 

Constructed of limestone faced blocks, The Story Wall features plaques with the names and accomplishments of local leaders of the past and present. The wall is also adorned with metallic silhouettes of birds. 

The honorees were selected by soliciting the general public for their suggestions.

Over 80 individuals were nominated through an online poll conducted in October and November of 2017. A committee of local historians, University of Iowa representatives, and downtown business owners then reviewed the list and selected a balance of honorees that represent Iowa City over the years in areas related to discovery, education, commerce, culture, and community.

The complete list of those honored:

  • 1830s: Cyrus Sanders- Discovery
  • Early Johnson County surveyor described pioneer life in Iowa City. His farmhouse remains at 2040 Waterfront Drive.
  • 1850s: Martha Reno- Education
  • African American woman who fought racial inequality and school taxation when her daughter was not allowed to attend.
  • 1850: Ed Rate & Family- Commerce
  • Ed Rate and his family owned the Rate and Sons Glove Factory and were leaders in the Iowa City area for generations.
  • 1860: John Hands- Commerce
  • Trained as a watchmaker in England, he founded Hands Jewelers still at its original location on Washington Street.
  • 1870s: Emil Boerner & Family- Commerce
  • First Dean of UI College of Pharmacy established an apothecary, producing pharmaceuticals in the Davis Building.
  • 1910s: Dora Chapman/Etta Englert- Culture
  • The driving forces behind the Englert Theatre, a community cultural attraction that survives and continues to thrive.
  • 1920s: George Gallup- Education
  • A UI graduate and editor at The Daily Iowan, was a pioneer of survey sampling techniques and invented the Gallup Poll.
  • 1920s: Howard Moffitt- Community
  • Constructed over 175 whimsical cottages in Iowa City from 1924 to 1943, often using recycled and found materials.
  • 1940s: Dottie Ray- Community
  • First female editor of the DI and KXIC radio legend for 55 years, she interviewed over 30,000 guests on her program.
  • 1940s: John Alberhasky- Commerce
  • A WWII vet, he launched Johns Grocery alongside his wife and family who continue to operate the store now for over 70 years.
  • 1950s: James Van Allen- Discovery
  • UI astrophysicist whose discoveries in magnetospheric research led to use of scientific instruments on space satellites.
  • 1960s: Minnette Doderer- Community
  • Brought issues of women and children to Iowa Legislature and was a founding member of Iowa Women’s Political Caucus.
  • 1960s: Nancy Sieberling- Community
  • Co-founder of Project Green raised nearly 2 million dollars to beautify Iowa City with trees, shrubs, and flowers.
  • 1970s: Bill Sackter- Community
  • Sackter helped change attitudes towards persons with disabilities and was featured in two movies and a documentary.
  • 1970s: Dave Morice- Culture
  • As Dr. Alphabet, he became an Iowa City icon for his prolific output of poetry, drawings, and street performances.
  • 1990s: Karen Kubby- Community
  • Artist, activist, volunteer and business owner who served on City Council and as Director of the Emma Goldman Clinic.
  • 1990s: Connie Mutel- Discovery
  • IIHR Senior Science Writer, Mutel wrote definitive books about Iowa's prairie, landscape, flooding, and climate change.

For more information, contact Marcia Bollinger, Public Art Coordinator, at 319-356-5237, or at marcia-bollinger@iowa-city.org

Date of publication

Tuesday, July 23, 2019