Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota. It was founded 1872 on the east bank of the Missouri River by European Americans and has served as capital since the state was formed in 1889. Ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the best small cities in the United States for jobs, Bismarck is the second-highest populated city in the state, boasting 72,865 residents as of 2017; during the same time frame, its metropolitan population was 132,142.
Known for its thriving retail and health care industries, Bismarck serves as the economic pillar of a large region of the state. In addition, over 4,600 individuals are employed by the state’s government in the city, making it a prosperous and highly-desired area to live.
The North Dakota State Capitol is the tallest building in the state at 241.75 feet; it was originally constructed in 1934, replacing a previous building that had burned to the ground in 1930.
The area that would one day become North Dakota was home to many different Native American tribes, each one steeped in rich culture and tradition; chief among them being the Sioux and Mandan, who resided upon the land long before the arrival of European settlers. The initial land settled by Europeans located was dubbed Missouri Crossing, named after the section of the river famously crossed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition during their historic Louisiana Purchase exploration in the early 1800’s; in its early days, it was well-known for being the home of numerous fur-trading posts and rich farmlands.
Later, Missouri Crossing was re-named as Edwinton, after Northern Pacific Railway engineer-in-chief Edwin Ferry Johnson, whose work at establishing the town as a center for railroad construction assisted greatly in creating a population boom in the area and putting Edwinton on the map. Finally, the city was re-christened once again in 1873 as Bismarck, in honor of German chancellor Otto von Bismarck; this was done in order to draw German settlers, as well as German investment dollars for the Northern Pacific Railway.
This move, coupled with the discovery of gold in nearby South Dakota, fueled further population growth in the region, with Germans and miners flocking to the state. However, many of these new settlers began to run into conflicts with local Native American tribes, whose sacred lands they were encroaching upon. Around this time, North Dakota also became known as a central hub of freight-shipping activity.
Bismarck was designated as capital of the Dakota Territory – as it was then known – and became its official state capital in 1889 when North Dakota was officially ratified for statehood.
The Bismarck Public Schools system educates 10,400 students and employs 1,500 people. Three Bismarck Catholic parishes operate primary schools and three private high schools. In addition, there are three colleges and a university in Bismarck- University of Mary, Bismarck State College, United Tribes Technical College, and Sanford Health, a nursing school.
The city itself features rich culture for its inhabitants, featuring a number of theaters, acting troupes, and orchestras, both independent and members of schools and universities. The historic Belle Mehus Auditorium, originally built in 1914, is a center for the arts.
Bismarck has a large park system and an extensive network of exercise trails and golf courses, including the famed Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Hunting and fishing are also popular.
Bismarck also possesses a well-regarded health care industry, boasting two cutting-edge, major hospitals within the city: St. Alexius Medical Center – in existence since 1885 – and Sanford Health. Bismarck Municipal Airport has the largest passenger volume in western North Dakota and the second highest within the state.