In 1939, the United States Congress approved a second aerodynamics research center for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The second center was built within a Naval Air Station, called Moffett Field, and was named for the chairman of NACA, Joseph Sweetman Ames.
In 1958, the center was renamed to the NASA Ames Research Center, after NACA was renamed to NASA.
In present day, the Ames Research Center is utilized for flight and space research.
This NASA Documentary goes more in depth in the history of the center.