City of Bismarck
—  City  —
North Dakota State Capitol
Location of Bismarck in Burleigh County, North Dakota
Coordinates: 46°48′48″N 100°46′44″W / 46.81333, -100.77889
Country United States
State North Dakota
County Burleigh
Founded 1872
 • Mayor John Warford
 • City 27.4 sq mi (71.0 km2)
 • Land 26.9 sq mi (69.7 km2)
 • Water 0.5 sq mi (1.3 km2)
Elevation 1,686 ft (514 m)
Population (2009)
 • City 61,217
 • Density 2,065.2/sq mi (797.4/km2)
 • Urban 60,373
 • Metro 104,944
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 58501-58507
Area code(s) 701
FIPS code 38-07200[1]
GNIS feature ID 1035849[2]
Highways I-94, I-94 Bus., US 83, ND 95, ND 810, ND 1804

Bismarck is the capital of the U.S. state of North Dakota and the county seat of Burleigh County.[3] It is the second most populous city in North Dakota after Fargo. Its population was 55,532 at the 2000 census. Its metropolitan population was 94,719 in 2000, but was estimated in 2009 to have grown to 106,286.[4] Bismarck was founded in 1872 and has been North Dakota's capital since it gained statehood in 1889.

Bismarck is situated on the east bank of the Missouri River, directly across the river from Mandan.[5] The two cities make up the core of the Bismarck-Mandan Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The North Dakota State Capitol, the tallest building in the state, towers over the central part of Bismarck. The state government employs many people in the city. Kroll's Diner also employs many people, but is haunted. As a hub of retail and health care, Bismarck is the economic center of a large portion of south-central North Dakota and north-central South Dakota.


Before the arrival of white settlers, the region that is present-day central North Dakota was inhabited by the Mandan people.[6] At a place once known as Missouri Crossing, the city that would become Bismarck was founded in 1872 and given the name Edwinton, in honor of Edwin Ferry Johnson (1803–1872), a distinguished civil engineer who was engineer-in-chief for the Northern Pacific Railway from June 1866 to November 1870. In 1873 the Northern Pacific Railway changed the city's name to Bismarck, after the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, in an effort to attract German investment.[7] However, the discovery of gold in the nearby Black Hills in 1874 was the first real impetus for growth: Bismarck becoming a freight-shipping centre at the end of the "Custer Route" from the Black Hills.[7] Bismarck became the capital of the Dakota Territory in 1883 and of the state of North Dakota in 1889.


Bismarck is located at 46°48′48″N 100°46′44″W / 46.81333, -100.77889 (46.813343, -100.779004)[8].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city occupies 27.4 square miles (71 km2), with 26.9 square miles (70 km2) land, and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) (1.90%) being water.


Downtown Bismarck; Patterson Place (built in 1911 as the McKenzie Hotel) was the tallest building in the state until construction of the capitol building. Once a noted luxury hotel, it now has senior housing and a restaurant.

Downtown Bismarck is near the center of the city, and is distinctive because the city's major shopping center, Kirkwood Mall, is there rather than in a suburban setting. Several other major retail stores are in the vicinity of Kirkwood Mall, as is the Bismarck Civic Center. The two Bismarck hospitals, St. Alexius Medical Center and Medcenter One Health Systems are both downtown, and the streets are lined with small stores and restaurants.

Much recent commercial and residential growth has happened in the northern section of the city, largely because of expanding retail centers. Among the shopping centers in northern Bismarck are Gateway Mall, Northbrook Mall, Arrowhead Plaza, and the new Pinehurst Square "power center" mall.

The North Dakota State Capitol complex is just north of downtown Bismarck. The 19-story Art Deco capitol is the tallest building in the city, at a height of 241.75 feet (74 m). The capitol building towers over the central part of the city and is easily seen from 20 miles (30 km) away on a clear day. Completed during the Great Depression in 1934, it replaced an earlier capitol building which burned to the ground in 1930. The capitol grounds house the North Dakota Heritage Center, the North Dakota State Library, the North Dakota Governor's Residence, the State Office Building, and the Liberty Memorial Building. The North Dakota State Penitentiary is in eastern Bismarck.

The Cathedral District is a historic neighborhood near downtown Bismarck. The neighborhood gets its name from the art deco Cathedral of the Holy Spirit which stands in the district. Some homes in this neighborhood date back to the 1880s, although many were built in the first decades of the 20th century. For years, the city has put forth controversial proposals to widen the streets in the neighborhood, but any such project would require the removal of many of the towering American elms which line the streets.

The Ruth Meiers Hospitality House is a 66-bed shelter for the homeless located east of downtown Bismarck.


Because it is situated in the middle of the Great Plains, near the geographic center of the United States, Bismarck displays a highly variable four-season humid continental climate (Koppen Dfb) with strong semi-arid influences. Bismarck's climate is characterized by long, cold, somewhat snowy and windy winters, and hot summers that are at times humid. Thunderstorms occur in spring and summer, but much of the rest of the year is dry.

The warmest month in Bismarck is July, with a daily mean of 70.4 °F (21.3 °C), with typically wide variations between day and night. The coldest month is January, with a 24-hour average of 10.2 °F (−12.1 °C). Precipitation peaks from May to September and is rather sparse in the winter months. Winter snowfall is typically light to moderate, occurring with the passage of frontal systems; major storms are rare.

Template:Bismarck weatherbox


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 1,758
1890 2,186 24.3%
1900 3,319 51.8%
1910 4,913 48.0%
1920 7,122 45.0%
1930 11,090 55.7%
1940 15,496 39.7%
1950 18,541 19.7%
1960 27,670 49.2%
1970 34,703 25.4%
1980 44,485 28.2%
1990 49,256 10.7%
2000 55,532 12.7%
Est. 2009 61,217 10.2%

At the time of the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 55,532 people, 23,185 households, and 14,444 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,065.2/mi² (797.4/km²). There were 24,217 housing units at an average density of 900.6/mi² (347.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.78% White, 3.39% Native American, 0.89% from two or more races, 0.75% Hispanic or Latino, 0.45% Asian, 0.28% Black or African American, 0.17% from other races and 0.03% Pacific Islander.

The top six ancestries in the city are: German (57.9%), Norwegian (18.2%), Russian (7.7%), Irish (7.2%), English (5.0%), Swedish (4.3%).

There were 23,185 households, of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.1% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.7% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city, the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.

The median income per household in the city was $39,422, and the median income per family was $51,477. Males had a median income of $33,804 versus $22,647 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,789. About 5.7% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.5% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.

Law and government[]

Bismarck operates under the city commission style of municipal government. Citizens elect five at-large city commissioners. The president of the city commission fills the office of mayor of the city. The current mayor of Bismarck is John Warford. The city commission meets every second and fourth Tuesday of each month.


With over 4,300 employees, the state government of North Dakota is the largest employer in Bismarck. Bismarck's two major health care providers, St. Alexius Medical Center and Medcenter One Health Systems, together employ about 4,100 people. Other major employers in Bismarck include Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Coventry Health Care, Bismarck Public Schools, Midwest Motor Express, and the United States Federal Government.[9]

Bismarck is the home of MDU Resources Group, which in 2009 was ranked number 473 on the Fortune 500 list.


Elementary, middle and high schools[]

The Bismarck Public Schools system operates fifteen elementary schools, three middle schools (Simle, Wachter, Horizon), two public high schools (Century High and Bismarck High) and one alternative high school (South Central High School). The system educates 10,400 students and employs 1,500 people.

Three Bismarck Catholic parishes operate primary schools (kindergarten through eighth grade): St. Mary's Grade School, St. Anne's Grade School, and Cathedral Grade School. St. Mary's Grade School, founded in 1878, is the oldest continuously operating elementary school in North Dakota.

The city has two private high schools, St. Mary's Central High School and Shiloh Christian School.

Higher education[]

There are five colleges and a university in Bismarck. The University of Mary is a four-year university, operated by the Sisters of Saint Benedict. Bismarck State College is a two-year public college, largest degree-granting institution in the city, and a member of the North Dakota University System. United Tribes Technical College is a two-year tribal college. Rasmussen College, a two to four-year private college, has a campus location in Bismarck.


The Belle Mehus Auditorium, a historic building in downtown Bismarck dating to 1914, is a center for the arts in the area. Performances of Northern Plains Dance and the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra are held there.

Theater companies in Bismarck include Sleepy Hollow Summer Theatre,[10] the Shade Tree Players children's theater group,[11] Dakota Stage Ltd,[12] University of Mary, Bismarck State College, and various high school groups. The Gannon and Elsa Forde Art Galleries are at Bismarck State College. The Missouri Valley Chamber Orchestra, founded in 2000, is the community's newest orchestra and performs a variety of musical genres.


Bismarck has a large park system and an extensive network of exercise trails. The Bismarck Parks and Recreation District, established in 1927, operates many parks, swimming pools, and several golf courses within the city.

Sertoma Park stretches more than three miles (five kilometers) along the banks of the Missouri River and within the park are several miles of biking trails, the Dakota Zoo, and Super Slide Amusement Park.

In total, the Parks and Recreation District operates roughly 2,300 acres (930 hectares) of public parkland.[13]

There are five golf courses in Bismarck: four 18-hole courses (Apple Creek Country Club, Hawktree Golf Club, Riverwood Golf Course, and Tom O'Leary Golf Course), and one 9-hole course (Pebble Creek Golf Course).

Hunting and fishing are popular with hunting seasons for deer, pheasant, and waterfowl. Fishing is a year-round sport on the Missouri River bordering Bismarck. There are public docks on the river. From north to south, there is a dock at the Port of Bismarck, from which the Lewis and Clark passenger riverboat plies the Missouri; Fox Island Landing, about a half mile southwest of Riverwood Golf Course; and the Bismarck Dock at General Sibley Park, where there is a boat ramp and picnic facilities.

Near Bismarck are several dammed lakes, including McDowell Dam Lake, six miles (ten kilometers) east of the city, and two lakes a few miles west of the city. The extensive Lake Sakakawea is seventy miles (110 kilometers) north of Bismarck, upstream of Garrison Dam.

In February 2007, Bismarck broke the record for most snow angels made in one place. A total of 8,962 participants came to the capitol grounds for the event.[14]

Health care[]

Bismarck is a regional center for health care. The city has two hospitals: St. Alexius Medical Center (285-bed) and Medcenter One Health Systems (238-bed). When it was opened in 1885, St. Alexius was the first hospital in Dakota Territory and is the oldest health care provider in the state of North Dakota. St. Alexius and Medcenter One have joined forces to form the Bismarck Cancer Center.[15] Medcenter One was founded in 1908 as Bismarck Evangelical Hospital, was renamed in 1955 to Bismarck Hospital, then renamed again in 1984 to its present designation, MedCenter One.



The only daily newspaper in Bismarck is the Bismarck Tribune. The paper was established in 1873 and is the oldest continuously operating business in the city. The Tribune is the official newspaper of the city of Bismarck, Burleigh County, and the state of North Dakota.[16] The daily newspapers of other major cities in North Dakota are also available at area newsstands.


There are six television stations based in Bismarck, and all of them have rebroadcasters in Minot, Williston, and Dickinson. The stations are:

  • KBME virtual channel 3/ATSC RF channel 22 (PBS)
  • KFYR virtual channel 5/ATSC RF ch. 31 (NBC)
  • KXMB virtual & ATSC RF channel 12 (CBS)
  • KBMY virtual channel 17/ATSC RF ch. 16 (ABC)
  • KNDX virtual & ATSC RF channel 26 (Fox)
  • K46DY analog NTSC channel 46 (TBN)

Bismarck also carries KWMK, an affiliate of The CW, on cable channel 14, as well as public access channels, Community Access Television, on cable channels 2 and 12.


Bismarck supports some twenty-seven radio stations. The commercial stations are owned by either Clear Channel Communications, Cumulus Media or Connoisseur Media. Many of the lower frequency stations are broadcasters of national Christian radio networks. The local stations are:

FM Radio

  • KBMK 88.3 FM (Contemporary Christian music) K-Love network affiliate
  • K204FG 88.7 FM (Christian) BBN translator
  • KGCD 89.1 FM (Contemporary Christian music) K-Love affiliate for nearby Lincoln
  • KNRI 89.7 FM (Christian rock) Air 1 affiliate
  • K211EG 90.1 FM (Christian) Rejoice Radio translator
  • KCND 90.5 FM (Public Radio) Prairie Public Radio
  • K216FK 91.1 FM (Spanish language Christian) La Nueva Radio Cristiana Translator
  • KBFR 91.7 FM (Christian) American Family Radio affiliate
  • KYYY 92.9 FM (Adult Contemporary) "Y93"
  • KBEP-LP 93.7 FM (Christian) 3ABN affiliate
  • KQDY 94.5 FM (Country) "KQ 94.5"
  • KBYZ 96.5 FM (Classic rock) "The Fox"
  • KKCT 97.5 FM (Top 40) "Hot 97-5"
  • KACL 98.7 FM (Oldies) "Cool 98.7"
  • K259AF 99.7 FM (Country) KQDY translator "KQ 94.5"
  • KLBE-LP 100.7 FM (Christian rock) "Club Radio"
  • KSSS 101.5 FM (Classic rock) "Rock 101"
  • KUSB 103.3 FM (Country) "US 103.3"
  • KNDR 104.7 FM (Contemporary Christian music)
  • KKBO 105.9 FM (Adult Hits) "105.9 BOB-FM"
  • KJIT-LP 106.7 FM (Contemporary Christian music) Radio 74 affiliate

AM Radio

  • KFYR 550 AM (News/Talk/Sports) "K-Fire"
  • KXMR 710 AM (Sports) "ESPN 710"
  • KBMR 1130 AM (Classic country)
  • KLXX 1270 AM (Talk)
  • KDKT 1410 AM (Sports) "Fox Sports Radio 1410"
  • WQDL503 1610 AM (Traveler's Information Station), North Dakota Department of Transportation


The old Northern Pacific Railway Depot, built in 1901 using the Mission Revival style. The building now houses a Mexican restaurant.

Because it is nearly in the center of North Dakota, Bismarck has become a major transportation hub.

Bismarck Municipal Airport is south of the city and has the largest passenger volume in western North Dakota and the second highest within the state. The airport is served by United Express, Allegiant Air and Delta Air Lines. A new $15 million terminal opened in May 2005. The previous terminal was built in the mid-1960s and expanded in the mid-1970s. A windstorm collapsed part of the roof connecting the expanded terminal to the original building, and eventually it was decided to demolish the entire complex and build the new terminal.

The BNSF Railway runs east-west through the city. There has not been Amtrak service in Bismarck since the North Coast Hiawatha service ended in 1979. The closest Amtrak station is in Minot, north of Bismarck, where the Empire Builder line runs.

Two federal highways pass through Bismarck. Interstate 94 runs east and west through the city and connects Bismarck and Mandan. The north-south U.S. Route 83 merges in north Bismarck with Interstate 94 to run east for roughly twenty-five miles (forty kilometers) beyond which it again runs north-south.

The Capital Area Transit System (CAT) began operations in May 2004.[17] This public bus system is operated by the Bis-Man Transit Board and has eleven routes throughout Bismarck and Mandan. Bis-Man Transit also operates a taxi service for senior citizens and people with disabilities.


Professional and amateur sports are popular in Bismarck.


High school and college sports are the main feature of the local athletics landscape. The athletic teams at the two public Bismarck high schools, Bismarck High School and Century High School, are known as The Demons and The Patriots, respectively. The athletic teams at St. Mary's Central High School, Bismarck's Catholic high school, are known as The Saints. The teams at Bismarck State College and United Tribes Technical College are known as The Mystics and Thunderbirds, and both compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association. The teams at the University of Mary are The Marauders and compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Bismarck has an American Legion baseball team called the Governors.

In the Fall, the accent is on high school and college football and there are spirited rivalries among the several high schools in the area. The University of Mary added the sport in 1988. Most University of Mary football games are played in the Community Bowl. Popular sports during the winter months include ice hockey, wrestling and basketball. In Spring, baseball is one of the top amateur sports in the city with each high school, Bismarck State College, and The University of Mary providing teams. The University of Mary also has a softball team. Another popular high school and college sport during the Spring months is track and field. Summer months see no high school or college athletics, but in the Summer Bismarck has American Legion baseball and auto racing. The Fourth of July holiday is the height of rodeo time with rodeos being held in Mandan and Bismarck. The Summer months also see another popular sport in Bismarck, slow-pitch softball. Bismarck is the host city of the world's largest charity softball tournament, the Sam McQuade Charity Softball tournament in which more than four hundred teams from all over the United States and Canada compete.


One professional basketball team is based in Bismarck, the Dakota Wizards of the National Basketball Association Development League. Professional sports are a recent development in the area. The Wizards took root in the mid- to late-1990s. The Wizards won titles during their International Basketball Association and Continental Basketball Association days and are the current champions of the National Basketball Association Development League. Bismarck has also been the home of two indoor professional football teams, but both teams left the city soon after they were formed. Bismarck once had a professional baseball team, the Dakota Rattlers, but the team relocated to Minot after several seasons in Bismarck.

The Bismarck Bobcats hockey team of the North American Hockey League is made up of Junior players (age twenty and younger, sometimes age twenty-one if waivered). The Bobcats won back-to-back Borne Cup championships as members of the AWHL before merging into the NAHL in 2003. Recently the Bobcats have made two trips to the NAHL's national tournament, claiming their first-ever Robertson Cup title in 2010, defeating the Fairbanks Ice Dogs 3-0 on May 9, 2010. The Bobcats play at the VFW Sports Center on Washington Street, on the north side of Bismarck.

Notable people[]

  • John Burke, state Supreme Court Justice, 10th governor of North Dakota, 24th Treasurer of the United States.[18]
  • Neil Churchill, Bismarck mayor, supported an early integrated baseball team with his car dealership.
  • Kent Conrad, senator.
  • Jack Dunham, animator, television producer.
  • Clay Jenkinson, columnist, author, actor.
  • Thomas S. Kleppe, former Bismarck mayor, 41st U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
  • Alexander McKenzie, early North Dakota political boss.
  • John Andrew Rea, newspaper editor, helped draft the state constitution.
  • Ed Schafer, 30th governor of North Dakota, 29th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.


External links[]

Coordinates: 46°48′48″N 100°46′44″W / 46.813343, -100.779004

Template:Burleigh County, North Dakota

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