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Achieve Therapy and Fitness 2424 32nd Ave S #103 Grand Forks ND 58201
(866) 320-3562
Spine Institute Northwest 2820 19th Ave Suite S Grand Forks ND 58201
(701) 660-0768
Hollowood Boulevard 1726 S Washington St #75, Grand Forks, ND
Aeropostale 2800 S Columbia Rd, Grand Forks, ND
(701) 775-8551
Canad Inns 1000 S 42nd St, Grand Forks, ND
(701) 772-8404
Lakeview Inn & Suites 3350 32nd Ave S, Grand Forks, ND
(701) 775-5000
Luscious Boutique 508 Hill Ave, Grafton, ND
(701) 521-0471
Squire Shop 519 Hill Ave, Grafton, ND
(701) 352-2640
Macy's 2800 S Columbia Rd, Grand Forks, ND
(701) 780-2100
Kohl's 3301 32nd Ave S, Grand Forks, ND
(701) 746-0191
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About Grand Forks

Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of North Dakota and the county seat of Grand Forks County. In 2005, the city had an estimated population of 53,230[1] and an estimated metropolitan population of 96,523 in 2006.[2] Grand Forks, along with its twin city of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, forms the center of the Grand Forks, ND-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is often called Greater Grand Forks or The Grand Cities.

Town Square in downtown Grand Forks

Located on the western banks of the Red River of the North in an extremely flat region known as the Red River Valley,[3] the city is prone to flooding and was struck by the devastating Red River Flood of 1997.[4] Originally called Les Grandes Fourches by French fur traders, Grand Forks was founded in 1870 by steamboat captain Alexander Griggs and incorporated on February 22, 1881.[5] Its location at the fork of the Red River and the Red Lake River gives the city its name.[5]

Historically dependent on local agriculture, the city's economy now encompasses higher education, defense, health care, manufacturing, food processing, and scientific research.[6][7] Grand Forks is served by Grand Forks International Airport and Grand Forks Air Force Base, while the city's University of North Dakota is the largest and oldest institution of higher education in the state.[8] The Alerus Center[9] and Ralph Engelstad Arena[10] host athletic events while the North Dakota Museum of Art and Chester Fritz Auditorium are the city's largest cultural venues.[11]


Flood memorial
Flood memorial

Grand Forks is located at 47°54′44″N, 97°3′17″W (47.912326, -97.054860)GR1, 74 miles north of the Fargo-Moorhead area[19] and 145 miles south of Winnipeg, Manitoba.[20] Grand Forks is situated 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 located near downtown Grand Forks.[5] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 49.9 km² (19.2 mi²), all land. Since it is in one of the flattest parts of the world, the city has few differences in elevation.[3] There are no lakes in the city limits of Grand Forks, but the meandering Red River and the English Coulee flow through the community and provide some break in the terrain.[21] The Red River Valley is the result of an ancient glacier carving its way south during the last Ice Age. Once the glacier receded, it formed a glacial lake called Lake Agassiz. The ancient beaches can still be seen as rolling hills west of the city.[22]


See also: Downtown Grand Forks and University Village, Grand Forks, North Dakota
Map of the city of Grand Forks
Map of the city of Grand Forks

Grand Forks has several distinct neighborhoods. The area adjacent to the Red River developed first so this is where some of the oldest neighborhoods, including the downtown area, can be found. The area between downtown and the University of North Dakota campus was another early growth area and historic properties can be found here as well.

Downtown Grand Forks is the oldest part of the city and thus contains many historic buildings.[24] It is the governmental center of the city and county. It is also used as a gathering place for large festivals and a weekly farmers' market during summer months.[25] Recently, city leaders and developers have announced plans to convert older buildings into high-end condos and apartments, and to construct new buildings for the same purpose.[26] Located directly south of downtown, the streets of the Near Southside Historic District are lined with classic houses.[27] Reeves Drive was once one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in the city and, to this day, it is still the home of many old mansions exhibiting several unique architectural styles.[28] Also in this neighborhood are areas of original granitoid paving, several historic churches, and the Lincoln Drive Park. The Near Southside neighborhood was granted the historic district designation by the National Register of Historic Places.[27]

In general, the newer neighborhoods of Grand Forks are in the southern and western parts of town. The 32nd Avenue South corridor has been the commercial center of the city since the Columbia Mall opened in 1978. Many big box stores, as well as hotels and restaurants, are now located along the avenue.[29] A large strip mall, called the Grand Forks Marketplace, opened in 2001 near the Columbia Mall. University Village is a new commercial district that was built on vacant lands owned by the University of North Dakota.[29][30] The centerpiece of the Village is the Ralph Engelstad Arena, which is used by the University's Fighting Sioux hockey team. All the buildings in the Village have been built in a similar style to buildings on the nearby UND campus. The area now includes restaurants and stores, as well as the University bookstore. In 2006, a new Wellness Center for UND students opened on the Village's west side.[31]


Historical populations
CensusPop. %±
18904,979 192.0%
19007,682 54.3%
191012,478 62.4%
192014,010 12.3%
193017,112 22.1%
194020,228 18.2%
195026,836 32.7%
196034,451 28.4%
197039,008 13.2%
198043,765 12.2%
199049,425 12.9%
200049,366 -0.1%
Est. 200553,230[1]7.8%

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 49,321 people (2005 city estimate: 53,230[1]), 19,677 households, and 11,058 families residing in the city. The population density was 989.8/km² (2,563.0/mi²). There were 20,838 housing units at an average density of 418.2/km² (1,082.8/mi²).[19]

The racial makeup of the city was 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. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.87% of the population. 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%).[32] In the city the population was 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 were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 102.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.2 males.[32]

Of the 19,677 households, 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.8% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.96.[32] The median income for a household in the city was $34,194, and the median income for a family was $47,491. Males had a median income of $30,703 versus $21,573 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,395. About 9.3% of families and 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.6% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.[32]


The economy of Grand Forks is not dominated by any one industry or sector. While agriculture continues to play a role in the area's economy, the city of Grand Forks now has a relatively diverse economy that includes public and private employers in sectors such as education, defense, health care, manufacturing, and food processing.[6][7] The state and federal governments operate two of the largest employers in the Grand Forks area. The University of North Dakota, located in the heart of the city, is the largest employer in the metropolitan area.[7] Grand Forks Air Force Base, just west of the city, employs a large number of civilian workers in addition to its enlisted personnel. Altru Health System is the largest private employer in Grand Forks.[7]

Employees at LM Glasfiber work on a giant blade for a wind turbine
Employees at LM Glasfiber work on a giant blade for a wind turbine

Major manufacturers in Grand Forks include wind turbine manufacturer LM Glasfiber[33] and small aircraft manufacturer Cirrus Design.[34] Major food producers include potato processor J. R. Simplot Company[35] and the state-owned North Dakota Mill and Elevator which is the largest flour mill in the United States.[36] Amazon.com[37] and SEI Information Technologies[38] both operate call centers in Grand Forks. Other large private employers in the city include the locally owned Alerus Financial branch of banks and the locally owned Hugo's chain of supermarkets.[39]

The retail and service sector is also an important part of the economy. The historic center of shopping in Grand Forks was the downtown area. Today, downtown is home to small shops and restaurants and south Grand Forks has become the major retail district in the city.[29] Grand Forks has three large shopping centers. The oldest, Grand Cities Mall, is located on South Washington Street and contains mainly small, locally owned stores as well as a Kmart. With about 80 stores, the area's largest indoor mall is Columbia Mall which is anchored by Macy's, Sears, J.C. Penney, and a large food court. The newest major shopping center in the city is the Grand Forks Marketplace power center mall which features SuperTarget, Best Buy, Lowe's, Gordmans, and several smaller stores. Depending on the relative strength of the Canadian dollar versus the American dollar, the Greater Grand Forks area attracts large numbers of tourist shoppers from Manitoba and especially from Winnipeg.[40]

Higher education

Chester Fritz Library on UND campus
Chester Fritz Library on UND campus

Grand Forks is the home of the University of North Dakota (UND), the largest and oldest university in the state and region. UND has nearly 13,000 enrolled students and is the home of the only schools of medicine and law in the state. UND is also known for its top-ranked John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. Together, UND and North Dakota State University make up the Red River Valley Research Corridor.[8]

Across the river in East Grand Forks is Northland Community and Technical College, a 2-year school.[53] Northland has been experiencing steady growth in recent years, with the addition of a sister campus in Thief River Falls, Minnesota and increasing distance education programs. A major expansion and renovation of the Northland building has been proposed due to rising enrollments.[54]


  • City of Grand Forks official website
  • Grand Forks Herald website
  • Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau website
  • Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation (EDC)
  • University of North Dakota official website
  • Grand Forks Air Force Base official website
  • Alerus Events Center website
  • Ralph Engelstad Arena website

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