Bob Hibbs publishes new 'Iowa City' book

Stephanie Wise Iowa City Press-Citizen
August 14, 2010
Flipping through the pages of Bob Hibbs' newest book, it's understandable why he says Iowa City is an anomaly of the state.

"You can take most any manifestation of arts or sciences or cultural life in this community today and understand in this context of history why it happened here," the author and third-generation Iowan said. "It's different than other communities of comparable or larger size in Iowa. "(Just as) New York City is not New York State, Iowa City is not Iowa."

Hibbs' book, "Iowa City," is the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing's "Postcard History" series, and features more than 200 vintage images of Iowa City from as early at 1853, 15 years after Iowa City was founded.

The images are from Hibbs' personal collection of 3,200 historic Iowa City artifacts he's acquired in the last 25 years, he said.

After retiring from property management, he wrote a weekly history column for the Press-Citizen for five years, using his postcard collection as inspiration for more than 350 brief historical essays. He also authored information for two history volumes published by the Press-Citizen in 2001 and 2006 under the title, "Iowa City, A Sense of Place."

So it seemed only natural for Hibbs to oblige when Arcadia Publishing asked him to create the Iowa City chapter of the "Postcard History" series.his book is just an outgrowth of my interest in local history and presentation of local history over the last decade," he said.

Hibbs describes the book as light in language. "It isn't the textbook history," he said. Though the book is first and foremost for the reader's pleasure in learning about Iowa City, Hibbs said, it's also for "perspective, to answer questions about the community and why it is as it is.

"The history is reflected today at every turn of the corner in Iowa City," he said. "You understand how things developed to be today because of things that happened in the past.

"Sometimes history is a pretty good predicator about what somebody else might say or feel or do," he said. For Hibbs, the history of Iowa City follows many of his own life experiences -- he has been a resident of the city since 1961, when he entered his first year at the University of Iowa. He still lives in the same home he moved into in 1965, which he calls "Kinchouse," based on his wife Margaret's high school nickname. "Iowa City is the best place in the world to live," he said. "I've had the good fortune to travel the world, and I've never found a place that I would rather call home than Iowa and Iowa City." The book is available for purchase at local bookstores, online and through Arcadia Publishing.