The town of Anita sits on a hillside overlooking Turkey Creek and a narrow lowland surrounding it. In 1868, the Rock Island Railroad was built through this part of Iowa, and Anita was laid out the next year with First Street next to the tracks and successive streets further up the hill. It was incorporated in 1875. In the 1920s, U.S. Highway 6 was built along Second Street, and the downtown buildings sprung up along it. The highway was once a major travel route through the area, but now Interstate 80 has replaced it, passing several miles to the north. U.S. Highway 6 is now combined with the freeway.
Anita’s population was 1,049 at the 2000 census. It has a motto, “A Whale of a Town,” which is posted on a sign at the edge of town. The elevation ranges from 1,280 feet near the railroad, to 1,380 at the top of the hill. Anita Lake State Park is immediately south of town, being a reservoir which offers boating and camping.