What would become Bismarck began as the Town of Edwinton in 1872, located at the point where the North Pacific Railway crossed the Missouri River. The name was changed a year later to Bismarck in honor of Otto von Bismarck [1815-1898], Chancellor of Germany. In 1883 Bismarck became the capital of the Dakota Territory. When the territory was split to create the new states of North and South Dakota, Jamestown was designated to be North Dakota's state capital, but efforts of Bismarck's citizens, some surreptitious, fixed the capital in Bismarck where it has remained.
1872-1921—A settlement emerges where the western extension of the Northern Pacific railway is planned to cross the Missouri River. The plat of Edwinton is recorded in 1872 and renamed to Bismarck. Bismarck was chosen as the capital of Dakota Territory. The city survived major fires downtown and at the Capitol and rebuilt stronger and more resilient. Growth was booming by the 1920s.
1922-1971—The City of Bismarck begins formal planning, establishing a Planning Commission and adopting a zoning ordinance. The first Plan for Development was completed in 1941. Post-war development was spurred by rapid suburbanization, and the center of the city moved north toward the newly constructed Interstate 94. The Garrison Dam also allowed building in floodplains to the south.
1972-2021—Growth continues steadily, with a slow-down in the 1980s and an oil boom in the 2010s. After a period of urban renewal early in this era, Bismarck later values and strengthens its traditional core areas. Rural development becomes prevalent, along with efforts to manage this growth. The city regains its ability to plan for extraterritorial areas outside of city limits. As costs of infrastructure rise, the city focuses on efficiency/
† Togeter 1945, Bismarck's Comprehensive Plan, www.bismarcknd.gov, 2022, accessed July, 2022.