Des Moines is the state capital of Iowa and the seat of Polk County. It was founded in 1843, when Captain James Allen constructed a fort at the junction of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. Allen originally wanted to name the garrison Fort Raccoon, but he was overruled by the U.S. War Department, who insisted on Fort Des Moines. As settlers flocked to the area, the community grew into a town and was incorporated as a city in 1851. In 1857, the city was made the capital of Iowa and it's name was shortened to Des Moines.
The origin of the name "Des Moines" is uncertain. The French des moines literally translates to "of the monks." Some people believe it refers to French Trappist monks who lived in huts at the mouth of the Des Moines River, while others think it could be referring to the Moingona natives of the area. Another theory is that Des Moines was corrupted from the French de moyen ("middle") because of its location between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
Des Moines is the government, business, and cultural hub of Iowa. Many corporations, such as Principal Financial Group and Ruan Transportation, are headquartered there, while others like Wells Fargo and John Deere have large operations in or near the metro area. The State Capitol Building, with its 23-karat gold leaf dome surrounded by four smaller copper-topped domes, is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful capitol buildings in the nation. The Des Moines Art Center, completed in 1948, was designed by world-renowned architects Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier. The center features an impressive collection of contemporary art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Other popular attractions include the Blank Park Zoo and the Des Moines Botanical Center.