Bismark, North Dakota


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Bismark Business Signs

The Mandan Tribe inhabited what would become central North Dakota prior to United States settlement.  In fact, the area, which became the city of Bismarck, was known in the Hidatsa language as “mirahacii arumaaguash”, which according to the Hidatsa Language Program translates to “place of the tall willows.”  The first non-native peoples to explore the area were members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early nineteenth century.  They called it “Missouri Crossing” as they crossed the Missouri River at this point.

Bismarck was originally founded in 1872 as “Edwinton”, named after the engineer-in-chief for the Northern Pacific Railway at the time, Edwin Ferry Johnson.  This name did not last, as in 1873; the Northern Pacific Railway renamed the town “Bismarck”, after German chancellor Otto von Bismarck.  According to the City of Bismarck, this decision was made because the Northern Pacific Railway hoped to draw “German settlers to the area and German investment in the railroad.”  The city of Bismarck was officially recognized as the state capital of North Dakota in 1889.

Today, according to a 2015 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, Bismarck, North Dakota has a total population of 71,167 people.  This makes it the 490th most populous city in the country.  It is also the second most populous city in North Dakota after Fargo.  Bismarck is the principal city in the Bismarck-Mandan Metropolitan Statistical Area.  According to that same 2015 estimate, the Bismarck-Mandan Metropolitan Statistical Area has a total population of 129,517 people.  This makes it the 304th most populous metropolitan statistical area in the United States.


Bismarck, North Dakota’s largest employer, as reported by the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report in 2011, is Sanford Health.  This healthcare company is responsible for 25,000 jobs in the area.  The city’s second largest employer, however, is the State of North Dakota, which employs 4,400 people.

In fact, the tallest building in the entire state of North Dakota falls under the state government and is located in Bismarck.  Nicknamed ‘The Skyscraper on the Prairie’, the North Dakota State Capitol Building clocks in at an impressive 241.67 feet (73.7 m) tall, or 21 stories.  Built between 1931 and 1934, this Art Deco skyscraper was designed by architects Joseph Bell DeRemer of Grand Forks and W.F. Kurke of Fargo with help from Chicago firm Holabird and Root.  It houses the Governor of North Dakota as well as the state’s Legislative Assembly and Supreme Court.

Bismarck, North Dakota also serves as the location for Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.  Founded in 1907, this park was the site of the original Fort Abraham Lincoln, which was the “headquarters of the 7th Cavalry and last command of George Armstrong Custer” prior to the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Within Bismarck, North Dakota’s Sertoma Park is the Dakota Zoo.  This AZA-accredited zoo opened in 1961 and contains more than 600 animals representing 125 different species.

Bismarck, North Dakota currently is home to only one professional sports team.  The Bismarck Bobcats are a Tier II junior ice hockey team.  The Bobcats are members of the North American Hockey League’s Central Division.  They play in V.F.W. Sports Center and have two Borne Cups and one Robertson Cup to their names.

Do you own a small business in the Bismarck, North Dakota area?  Considering it?  These resources could help you:

Apply for a Business License in Bismarck, North Dakota

Business in Bismarck, North Dakota

Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce

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