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The capital of North Dakota and the seat of Burleigh County, Bismarck is a thriving city located along the eastern shore of the Missouri River. It is home to a variety of cultural activities and organizations, and a diverse population.

The city is governed by a largely independent, commission-style municipal government. Citizens elect four commissioners, who exercise both legislative and executive powers. The mayor, also elected at-large, serves as the president of the commission.

The first known inhabitants of present-day Bismarck were the Mandan Nation, whose villages were scattered throughout what is now the city’s limits. Several of these villages, including On-a-Slant Village, are now state parks and monuments.

After the discovery of gold in the nearby Black Hills, Bismarck became a center for the mining industry. It was also an important freight-shipping center for the Northern Pacific Railway, which renamed it Bismarck in 1873 in honor of its German chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

During the early years of settlement, Bismarck’s streets were full of saloons and gambling houses, making it known as the “Wickedest City in the West.” The violence was so bad that some historians have referred to the downtown area as a “Murderer’s Gulch.”

Today, Bismarck is a diversified regional medical, governmental, industrial, and technological center. The region’s largest employers include government, health-care providers, and the local lignite and oil industries.

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Other large employers include the university, hospital and allied health care providers. Retailers and other businesses are also major players.

The cultural landscape of Bismarck is dotted with museums, performing arts centers, and art galleries. The Bismarck Symphony Orchestra, dance studios, amateur theater, men’s and women’s choruses, a national tribal powwow, and summer musical productions are among the many options for locals to enjoy.

The downtown area of Bismarck is a pleasant, walkable, and vibrant place to explore, and features numerous restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries. It also hosts a number of festivals and events, such as the annual Arts and Crafts Show, which attracts over a thousand people each year.

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The city’s athletic scene is centered on the public schools and colleges. Teams from three public high schools, the Benedictine-founded University of Mary, and United Tribes Technical College compete in a variety of sports leagues. Other sporting options include American Legion baseball and auto racing, and slow-pitch softball.

A visit to the Dacotah Speedway, a 3/8-mile dirt track in Mandan, is a great way to experience the local racing scene, with races from April through October. The Dacotah Speedway also hosts a wide array of special events, such as car shows and monster trucks.

Outdoor enthusiasts can find many recreational opportunities in the area, with a wide range of parks and trails. The city owns and manages 2,525 acres of park facilities, with forty-eight parks and thirty-miles of trail systems.

There are a number of non-profit organizations in the community, serving many needs and interests. The Bismarck Arts and Gallery Association, for example, operates a museum and a variety of art galleries.

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