With a population of about 100,000, Fargo is by far the largest city in North Dakota. Its nickname as the "Gateway to the West" refers to its past role as a dock for steamboats and a passage for trains running westward. The nickname is still appropriate today, as it is now the major economic and business hub of the surrounding area, which includes both eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Fargo is a college town, too, home to North Dakota State University. Fargo is also known for having some of the richest soil ever found due to its location in the Red River Valley, the former site of a glacial lake.
Fargo has long been recognized for its economy and business environment. In 2004, the city was been ranked fifth by the Business Development Outlook magazine on its "Best places for a Thriving Economy". In the same year, Fargo was rated as one of the top places for companies to locate a business by Expansion Management Magazine. Forbes also rated the city as the second best small city in the United States for business and careers.
Some of the larger employers in the area include North Dakota State University, MeritCare Health System, Innovis Health and Alien Technology.
Downtown Fargo has been the city's major business district for more than 100 years. Workers from metropolitan areas comprise the city's labor force filling more than 90,000 jobs in the city. The city's historic central business district is a vibrant commercial area which bustles with shops, houses and entertainment centers.
The Renaissance Zone incentives program encourages investment in the downtown properties. The programs help to locate new uses for existing buildings, attract new businesses and increase the availability of houses in the downtown area. The parking needs and facilities are actively managed in the downtown and make it more functional for residents, employees and visitors.
Other key neighborhoods of Fargo include Madison-Unicorn Park to the east of downtown, mostly single-family housing, Hawthorne, on the Red River with historic homes along 8th Street, and the area around NDSU, with the Fargodome and other university buildings.
North Dakota State University: Established in 1890 with a highly agricultural focus, this school has since expanded its fields of study to offer more than 300 degree programs, from bachelor's to doctoral levels.
Masters Baptist College: Affiliated with Fargo Baptist Church, this tuition-free college focuses on training its students for religious vocations.
Aakers College: This private two-year school has three North Dakota campuses, offering both associate's and bachelor's degrees.
The Plains Art Museum: Located downtown and considered the largest art museum in North Dakota, this venue displays both traveling and permanent art exhibits.
Musical entertainment: Plenty of musical companies exist in Fargo, such as Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Fargo-Moorhead Youth Symphony, and the Jazz Arts Group.
Theater companies: Several performing arts groups populate the Fargo area, such as Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre, Ursa Major Theatre Company, Theatre B, Music Theatre Fargo Moorhead, Tin Roof Theatre Company, and the Entertainment Company.
Fargodome:Many of Fargo's performing arts companies' performances are hosted in the Fargodome, an indoor stadium that can hold more than 20,000 people.
West Acres Shopping Center is the main shopping locale in Fargo. It has more than 120 stores, from specialty shops and cafes to department stores and chain restaurants. Newer updates include a fireplace in the food court, a children's play area, and a museum. Southpointe Mall, Northport Shopping Center, and Westgate Commons are a few other shopping centers in Fargo with dozens of stores each. EasTen Shopping Center is located in nearby Moorhead and has nearly 30 stores. This area is also home to Moorhead Antique Mall, which features 8,000 square feet of antiques, collectibles, and furniture.
Red River Zoo: This 33-acre zoo has more than 300 animals and an antique carousel from 1928.
Bonanzaville: History buffs from all states will enjoy Bonanzaville's 15 acres of ancient buildings and museums full of history. Buildings include an old court house, church, and lots of shops, while museums are filled with planes, cars, and more.
Celebrity Walk of Fame: This unique trail of more than 100 celebrity autographs, footprints, and handprints is located at the Fargo-Moorehead Convention & Visitors Bureau. Each year, more famous actors, artists, athletes, politicians, and musicians leave their mark on Fargo at this well-known walk.
Air travel: Hector International Airport possesses the longest runway among state public airports. Airlines that use this facility include United Express, Allegiant Air, Northwest, and Frontier airlines.
Highways: Fargo is at the intersection of Interstate 94 and Interstate 29. U.S. Highway 10 runs east-west through the city, and U.S. Highway 81 goes north and south through it.
Public transit: Metro Area Transit, or MAT, is the main bus service in Fargo. Amtrak and Greyhound lines also have hubs in Fargo.
The North Dakota State University Bison participate in 14 men's and women's sports, with particularly successful football and wrestling programs.