Grand Forks, North Dakota

From Academic Kids

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Grand Forks City Hall

Grand Forks is a United States city located in the state of North Dakota. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 49,321. It is the county seat of Grand Forks CountyTemplate:GR and the third largest city in North Dakota. It has a twin city, East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The two communities make up the metropolitan area often called Greater Grand Forks.

Grand Forks is home to the University of North Dakota (UND) and the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The local paper is the Grand Forks Herald.



Location of Grand Forks, North Dakota

Grand Forks is located at 47°54'44" North, 97°3'17" West (47.912326, -97.054860)Template:GR.

Grand Forks sits on the western bank of the Red River of the North in an area known as the Red River Valley. The term "Forks" refers to the forking of the Red River with the Red Lake River. This junction is located near downtown Grand Forks.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 49.9 km² (19.2 mi²). 49.8 km² (19.2 mi²) of it is land and none of the area is covered with water.

Since it is in one of the flattest parts of the world, the city has very few differences in elevation. There are no lakes in or near Grand Forks. The meandering Red River and the English Coulee flow through the community and provide some break in the terrain. The Red River Valley was once part of a gigantic lake called Lake Agassiz and the area where Grand Forks now stands was under water. The ancient beaches can still be seen west of town.


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Downtown Grand Forks circa 1946

Grand Forks is one of the oldest major cities in the Dakotas. Prior to settlement by Europeans, the area where the city now sits (at the forks of the Red River and Red Lake River) had been an important meeting and trading point for Native Americans. Early French explorers and traders called the location "Les Grandes Fourches." The town was first settled by a steamboat captain named Alexander Griggs. His nine acre piece of property would become what is now known as downtown Grand Forks. The name "Grand Forks" was first applied in 1870 by the community's first postmaster and incorporation followed on February 22, 1881.

Grand Forks grew rapidly in its early years. Growth was spurred by waves of immigrants and Americans from the eastern portion of the country and the coming of the railroad. The first settlers were farmers, but merchants and professional people from Minneapolis and other cities soon populated the city. By the dawn of the 20th Century, the city had become the center of the region and boasted many amenities usually found in larger cities.

The first half of the 1900's saw steady growth and the development of new neighborhoods farther south and west of downtown. In 1954, Grand Forks was chosen as the site for an Air Force base. This brought thousands of new jobs and residents to the community. The military base and the University of North Dakota would become the two most integral pieces of the city's economy.

The later half of the century saw an increased shift away from downtown and towards the outskirts of the community. Several urban renewal projects tore down sections of the downtown area to make way for public buildings and transportation improvements. New public schools, a new hospital, and many commercial centers were built during this period. The coming of the Interstate highway system revolutionalized the way people traveled throughout the region.

Flood of 1997

The city was struck by a severe flood in 1997, causing extensive damage. A major fire also destroyed eleven buildings in the city's downtown area during the height of the flooding. National media attention, including a large donation from McDonald's restaurant heiress Joan Kroc, helped speed recovery. Several neighborhoods had to be completely demolished to make way for a massive new dike system which, when completed in 2006, will protect the community from future flooding.

Recent events

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Downtown Grand Forks today

Since the flood, growth and new development has taken place throughout the city. Major projects have included the Alerus Center (football, concerts), the $100+ million Ralph Engelstad Arena (home of the UND "Fighting Sioux" hockey team) on the UND campus, and a number of new commercial projects on the outskirts of town. The city is currently experiencing steady population growth. A large number of homes, townhouses, and apartment buildings have been constructed recently. Most commercial development has taken place around the Ralph Engelstad Arena and along the 32nd Avenue South commercial corridor.

Current issues the city is facing include the construction of a $50 million Canad Inns hotel and entertainment complex which will be located adjacent to the Alerus Center, construction of a proposed tribal casino, potential multi-million dollar housing projects in downtown, and realignment of the air base. On June 20, 2005, the Grand Forks City Council approved an ordinance which will ban smoking in all public places except bars. The ban will go into effect in August of 2005.

In late 2004/early 2005, Ralph Engelstad Arena played host to the 2005 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. The arena will host the 2008 Ford World Men's Curling Championship.

Law and government

The office of mayor is a four year term. It is a part-time position paying $24,000 a year. The current mayor of Grand Forks is obstetrician Dr. Michael Brown. He was first elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. The mayor is primarily responsible for overseeing the daily administration of city government. This involves working directly with departments and department heads to ensure the proper provision of services to the residents of Grand Forks.

Grand Forks uses a city council system. The city is divided into seven wards with each ward electing their own city council representative. Currently, the council consists of six men and one woman. The council meets every week and its meetings are broadcast on a local cable channel.



Grand Forks' newspaper is the Grand Forks Herald. It is published daily and has the second largest circulation in the state. East Grand Forks has a weekly newspaper called The Exponent. UND also has its own student-published newspaper called The Dakota Student (published twice weekly during the school year). The Luncheon News is a free leaflet publication produced five days a week. It contains a small section devoted to local news.


Grand Forks has only one local network affiliate with studios located in the city, WDAZ (Ch. 8, ABC). Grand Forks viewers also receive broadcasts from KGFE, KVLY, KBRR, and KXJB, whose signals originate in Fargo.

Only WDAZ produces newscasts in Grand Forks - 3 on weekdays, 2 on Saturdays, and one on Sundays. KVLY, KBRR, and KXJB all carry some Grand Forks-related news. Of them, KVLY carries the most, having an office in the city.

Three additional locally-produced television channels are on the Midcontinent Communications cable lineup in the city of Grand Forks. Channel 3 is a public information station operated by the University of North Dakota. Channel 6 is an advertising channel. Channel 23 is a sports channel featuring UND hockey games.



Grand Forks International Airport (GFK, KGFK) is served by Northwest Airlines with several daily roundtrips to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.


Three federal highways pass through Grand Forks: US 2, I-29, and US 81.

US 2 runs East-West through the north part of town and is a four lane highway. In the city limits, the highway is called Gateway Drive. Its business route, Demers Avenue, runs through the city centers of both Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

I-29 runs North-South along the western edge of the city, officially muliplexed with US 81 in the Grand Forks area. The US 81 business route, Washington Street, runs through many of the city's major commercial districts.

Mass transit

The city maintains a bus system called Cities Area Transit (or CAT). The system has operated since 1926 when it was introduced to replace an earlier trolley system (in homage to which, the city now operates a bus that looks like a trolley). There are currently eleven bus routes including night service and service in the community of East Grand Forks. The Metro Area Transit Center is located downtown on Kittson Avenue. It is essentially the "depot" and main connecting point of the system.

CAT is considered to be the best fixed-route public transit service in the state of North Dakota, and was used as a model when Bismarck-Mandan launched a "Capital Area Transit" service in 2004.


The Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway runs track in several directions in and around the city. Amtrak passenger service on the Empire Builder line heads westbound daily at 5:00 am and eastbound daily at midnight.

Street system

The older sections of Grand Forks are structured in the classic grid street system. North-South routes are called streets, and East-West routes are called avenues. Streets are numbered in blocks west of the river. Avenues are numbered in blocks north or south of Demers Avenue (the city's historic divisionary route abutting the railyards).

Major east-west routes (listed from north to south)

  • Gateway Drive (Highway 2)
  • Sixth Avenue North
  • University Avenue
  • DeMers Avenue
  • 13th Avenue South
  • 17th Avenue South
  • 24th Avenue South
  • 32nd Avenue South
  • 47th Avenue South

Major north-south routes (listed from east to west)

  • Belmont Road
  • Cherry Street
  • Washington Street
  • 20th Street
  • Columbia Road
  • 34th Street
  • 42nd Street


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 49,321 people, 19,677 households, and 11,058 families residing in the city. The population density is 989.8/km² (2,563.0/mi²). There are 20,838 housing units at an average density of 418.2/km² (1,082.8/mi²).

The racial makeup of the city is 93.35% White, 0.86% African American, 2.75% Native American, 0.96% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.58% from other races, and 1.44% from two or more races. 1.87% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The top 6 ancestry groups in the city are Norwegian (36.4%), German (34.7%), Irish (10.6%), French (6.5%),Polish (6.2%), English (6.1%).

There are 19,677 households out of which 28.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% are married couples living together, 10.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 43.8% are non-families. 31.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.31 and the average family size is 2.96.

In the city the population is spread out with 21.4% under the age of 18, 22.9% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 28 years. For every 100 females there are 102.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 100.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $34,194, and the median income for a family is $47,491. Males have a median income of $30,703 versus $21,573 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,395. 14.6% of the population and 9.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 14.6% of those under the age of 18 and 7.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

See also

External links





Regions of North Dakota Flag of North Dakota
Red River Valley | Missouri Escarpment | Badlands
Largest cities
Beulah-Hazen | Bismarck-Mandan | Devils Lake | Dickinson | Fargo-West Fargo | Grafton | Grand Forks | Jamestown | Minot | Rugby | Valley City | Wahpeton | Williston

Adams - Barnes - Benson - Billings - Bottineau - Bowman - Burke - Burleigh - Cass - Cavalier - Dickey - Divide - Dunn - Eddy - Emmons - Foster - Golden Valley - Grand Forks - Grant - Griggs - Hettinger - Kidder - La Moure - Logan - McHenry - McIntosh - McKenzie - McLean - Mercer - Morton - Mountrail - Nelson - Oliver - Pembina - Pierce - Ramsey - Ransom - Renville - Richland - Rolette - Sargent - Sheridan - Sioux - Slope - Stark - Steele - Stutsman - Towner - Traill - Walsh - Ward - Wells - Williams

da:Grand Forks de:Grand Forks fr:Grand Forks (Dakota du Nord)


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