The ship opened as a floating museum Saturday at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro.
The USS Iowa fired nearly 12,000 rounds for the U.S. Navy before being decommissioned for a third and final time in 1990.
Launched from the New York Naval Yard in 1942 and commissioned the next year, the Iowa's first wartime duty was in the Atlantic, neutralizing a German battleship, according to a detailed history on the Pacific Battleship Center's website.
Known as the "Battleship of Presidents," the Iowa has hosted more commanders in chief than any other of ship of her kind.
The Iowa even has a bathtub that was installed especially for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943.
The ship transported him through the Mediterranean to Iran for the Tehran Conference to meet with Allied counterparts Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Chiang Kai-shek.
After returning Roosevelt to the U.S. mainland, the Iowa headed to the Pacific, where her crew targeted Japanese forces in places like Saipan, Tinian and Guam, and braved kamikaze attacks and a typhoon.
The Iowa was taken out of commission in 1949, but got new life two years later, and was involved extensively in U.S. naval operations during the Korean War.
Seven years later, after spending time back in the Mediterranean Sea and in Cuban and European ports, the USS Iowa was again decommissioned.
The battleship was modernized and put back into service in 1984.
In subsequent years, the Iowa spent time on the Pacific Coast, in Central and South America, in Scandinavia and other European ports, the Persian Gulf and other locales.
The ship was struck from the Naval Register in 1995, five years after being decommissioned.
Federal authorities put the USS Iowa up for donation in 2006.
In September 2011, the secretary of the Navy gave the Pacific Battleship Center the rights to the ship.
The nonprofit group raised about $9 million to restore and move the ship, including $3 million from the state of Iowa.
It took out another $5 million in loans and raised the rest through donations and pro bono work.
Museum memberships are already being sold at www.pacificbattleship.com.