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America’s 10 Most Unique State Capitals

America’s 10 Most Unique State Capitals

A state capital is often portrayed as the principal city and constitutional capital, acting as a hub spot for government activities and seats for political power. State capitals are typically well decorated with historic landmarks, as a representation of the state. But some state capitals have the distinction of being truly unique and unmatched in character, which is why they have been bestowed the title with pride. We bring you some distinctive characteristics about the most unique state capitals in the U.S.

10. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines photo
Photo by IABoomerFlickr

Savoring a premium and distinctive location at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon River, Des Moines is at the helm of the state’s legislative council. The capital features an eclectic mix of government offices, insurance institutions, financial institutions and recreational facilities.

Once Iowa became a state, the leaders established that its capital should move further west from the territorial capital, Iowa City. In 1846, the General Assembly sanctioned a commission to choose a new state capital. The exact spot was established in 1854, and the final approval was given in 1870.

Because of its location at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, Des Moines was originally named ‘Fort Raccoon.’ The name was subsequently changed to Fort Des Moines and finally shortened to Des Moines.

A few facts about Des Moines:

  • Des Moines has one of the most extravagant state capitals with its gold leaf dome standing tall at 23 karats and 275 feet.
  • In December 2010, excavators seeking a new wastewater plant discovered ‘The Palace’ – an archaeological site with over 6,000 artifacts, fragments of old homes and two skeletons.
  • Des Moines in French means ‘of the monks.’

Today, Des Moines follows a council-manager form of government.

Des Moines plays host to a myriad of cultural events, including Metro Arts Jazz, Des Moines Arts Festival, and the Iowa State Fair. Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and Capital City Pride Parade are widely popular in the city.

9. Dover, Delaware

Dover Delaware photo
Photo by Ken Lund

Nestled on the St. Jones River, Dover is the second-largest city and capital of the state of Delaware. The capital of Delaware moved to Dover in 1777 from New Castle thanks to its central and safe positioning away from British raiders traveling along the Delaware River. Dover was established as the official state capital in 1781.

William Penn named the city of Dover in the U.S. after another Dover, situated in Kent, England.

A few facts about Dover:

  • Dover is the birthplace of E.R. Johnson, the inventor of the phonograph and was the home of famous writer John Dickinson.
  • The founder, William Penn, was not the guy on boxes of Quaker Oats, contrary to popular perception.

Dover follows the manager-council system of government.

Dover hosts fun festivals and events all through the year. The Firefly Musical Festival is famous for bringing renowned musicians to Dover. The Dover Days Festival brings history to life with its cultural richness.


Lana Pelly Travel expert, writer for America Unraveled.


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