The area’s initial development stretches back to when it was the site of the Iowa State Fair from 1879 to 1884, then known as “Brown’s Park.” Today’s Iowa state fairgrounds became a permanent fixture on Des Moines’ east side when it was dedicated 1886. From 1854 to 1879, the state fair moved through various towns in Iowa. In 1879, the fair came to the western edge of Des Moines, or “Brown’s Park,” which is now part of the North of Grand neighborhood.
This map was found at the Des Moines Public Library, and shows the fairgrounds encompassed the area between 38th (eastern edge) and 42nd streets (western edge) and Center Street (northern border) and Grand Avenue (southern border). In the upper left-hand corner of the map is the Rock Island Railroad’s spur line, laid especially for the fair’s eight-day run.