Living in Society Social Commentary

What I Like About the County Seat

Old Capitol

There are things I like and dislike about nearby Iowa City which is the seat of Johnson County government. Here’s a post about what I like in no particular order.

Parking at the Administration Building The primary reason I travel to the county seat is to take care of county business. When the board of supervisors built the administration center they created ample, well-maintained parking that is always convenient once one figures out the traffic pattern of the streets surrounding it. Getting in and out to take care of business or attend a meeting has always been easy and welcoming.

Downtown Parking My reasons for visiting the downtown vector are to attend a meeting or special event, or to get service from one of the specialty shops that can only be found there. The small city near where I live can’t support a jeweler, a printer, or clothier, so the county seat is the next best bet. I opposed building the parking ramps back in the day, but today they are a stress reliever. If my wallet is emptied of bills, they will take plastic for settlement.

HyVee In our ecology of food we need a large conventional grocery store where I can find specialty items and a few staples. Located near the edge of the city, the North Dodge Street HyVee is convenient when I am in the county seat for other reasons, and not too far when I’m not. Inevitably I run into people I know there, most times multiple people in a single visit. It is not only about getting a few grocery items but about socializing. I also use the store as a place to meet people who live in the county seat.

Bookstores Because the University of Iowa is its own large population center the city is able to maintain a large independent bookstore and an equally large used bookstore. On rare occasions when I feel like shopping, Prairie Lights Bookstore and the Haunted Bookshop are usual destinations. It is hard to go inside one or the other and leave without buying a book.

Memory Repository Since 1970 I’ve spent significant time in the county seat, attending university, and afterward, living a life. We married there. Our daughter was born there. I protested the Vietnam War there. My earliest creative efforts took place there. One of my favorite places to be is having a coffee near the intersection of Market and Linn Streets. Today I make fewer new memories there. When I think of who I became after leaving home, a lot of it happened in the Johnson County seat. From time to time I need to remember that.

This list is a description of who I am in the context of geography. I understand people don’t get that excited about parking capacity. We live far enough away from the county seat for it not to be a nuisance, and close enough to get in and out quickly while conducting the business of a life. Wherever we lived there would be a county seat. I like ours just fine.