History of Fargo
The area that is Fargo today was a stopping point for steamboats in the late 1800s, during which time the city was referred to as Centralia. It got its name from Wells Fargo Express Company founder William Fargo, who was also the director of the Northern Pacific Railway. Fargo was important to the area because the city really started to flourish once the Northern Pacific Railway arrived. Once the railroad arrived to the city, Fargo became known as the “Gateway to the West.”
Another interesting fact about Fargo is that it was referred to in the 1880s as the “divorce capital” of the country because it had very lenient laws regarding divorce at the time.
Another major event in the city’s history occurred in 1893, when there was a huge fire in the city. It started from ashes being emptied behind a grocery store on a windy day and escalated into a fire that destroyed 31 blocks of the city’s downtown area.
The fire, however, did not trouble Fargo that much. Within a year, the entire city was rebuilt, this time with brick buildings, new streets and a new water system. Within only one hear, some 250 buildings were built after the fire.
The automobile industry flourished in Fargo at the beginning of the 20th century. The city was home to the Pence Automobile Company. The boom in industry continued after World War II and the city continued to grow. Not even a devastating tornado in 1957 could stop the city’s population from growing.
In recent history, the retail districts of the city have grown a lot thanks to many investments by the city and private developers that focused on the downtown area of Fargo.
The economy of the Fargo area has historically been dependent on agriculture, but this has changed in more modern times. Some of the most successful industries in the city include food processing, manufacturing, retail trade, higher education, and healthcare. Fargo was ranked the 7th best small city in the nation to start a business or a career by Forbes magazine.
The economy and employment are both strong in Fargo as well. Since the late 1990s, the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area has consistently had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States.
It also has institutions of higher learning, the largest one being North Dakota State University.
Fargo also has a place in pop culture thanks to the award-winning movie from 1996 that was named after the city. Even though the film was named after the city, it was not shot in Fargo and the city is only seen once and mentioned twice in the movie. Most of the movie was filmed in Minnesota. However, the directors lived the sound of “Fargo” better than the name of the city in which the movie was shot, which was Brainerd, Minnesota. However, the largest portion of the film was actually shot in Minneapolis. The movie also won an Academy Award in 1996.