Marshalltown, the industrial center and seat of Marshall County, is a city on the prairie, stencilled with railroad tracks and hard-surfaced highways and bordered on the north by the Iowa River. It is built around the courthouse, as is traditional with county seat towns in Iowa. The friendly dials of the clock tower, luminous above a fringe of green trees on Main Street, command the entire community. Farmers in “Sunday best” or everyday overalls, drive in from the country to transact business here and, lingering in the square, discuss the latest prices at the canning factory which contracts with them for sweet corn. Their wives and daughters, strolling along Main or Center Streets, window-gaze or pur chase items on their shopping lists. A constant ebb and flow of foot and automobile traffic suggests the many brisk activities of the neighborhood.
From the courthouse, the residence district spreads fanwise toward the west and north. Most factories are in the southeast. Thousands of trees shade the wide boulevards; in the summer the city appears to be covered with arbors of green from which emerge smokestacks, the courthouse, and the tower of the Iowa Soldiers’ Home in the northwest environs. Beyond Marshalltown’s borders is the corn country flat, almost timberless prairie extending for miles.
—Iowa: A Guide to the Hawkeye State (WPA, 1938)
Marshalltown, Iowa, Oil on Canvas, 24 x 50 inches, 2013
* * *
Nate Burbeck is a State Guide to Minnesota and an At-Large Guide to the Midwest. He curates a few regionally-themed art tumblrs —beyond 9th avenue (Northeastern artists), fly over art (Midwestern artists), dim with beauty (Southern artists) and in the new frontier (Western artists) and has himself been named one of “Ten Artists to Watch in 2013" on the Walker Art Center’s mnartists blog. Follow Nate’s work on Tumblr atnburbeck.tumblr.com or on his website.