Eldora was platted in 1853. It was incorporated on July 1, 1895.
The name Eldora was given to the town by a local mother in honor of her dead infant daughter. It is derived from the Spanish name for "the gilded".
Eldora is located at 42°21′37″N 93°6′5″W (42.360155, -93.101325).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.33 square miles (11.21 km2), all of it land.
Designated as having a humid continental climate, this region typically has a large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. Precipitation is relatively well distributed year-round in many areas with this climate. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Dfa". (Hot Summer Continental Climate).
As of the census of 2010, there were 2,732 people, 1,079 households, and 671 families residing in the city. The population density was 630.9 inhabitants per square mile (243.6/km2). There were 1,275 housing units at an average density of 294.5 per square mile (113.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.8% White, 2.0% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.7% of the population.
There were 1,079 households of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.7% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.8% were non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.87.
The median age in the city was 41.6 years. 26.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 20.4% were from 25 to 44; 25.8% were from 45 to 64; and 20.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.7% male and 48.3% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,035 people, 1,193 households, and 742 families residing in the city. The population density was 698.4 people per square mile (269.4/km²). There were 1,314 housing units at an average density of 302.4 per square mile (116.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.49% White, 1.32% African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.69% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 1.55% from other races, and 0.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.97% of the population.
There were 1,193 households out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.7% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.89.
29.8% are under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 22.2% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 20.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 99.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,170, and the median income for a family was $39,421. Males had a median income of $31,545 versus $17,891 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,459. About 5.9% of families and 6.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.6% of those under age 18 and 2.9% of those age 65 or over.
Eldora is located adjacent to the Iowa River and Pine Lake State Park.
The city is the location of the State Training School for Boys, a school for male juvenile delinquents.George Gardner Fagg, Senior United States federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; born in Eldora.
Mona Van Duyn, winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the 1992-1993 U.S. Poet Laureate; grew up in Eldora.
The city is most famous for the filming of the 1996 movie Twister on location. The climactic final scene was shot at the old Follett house in Eldora which is now a private home.