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Fargo: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

The Fargo economy is based on education, the medical industry, agricultural equipment manufacturing, retailing, and services. The city is a retail magnet for the entire Upper Plains; its per capita retail spending is usually among the nation's highest because so many people from the region go to Fargo to do their shopping. Because of its central location, the city is a transportation hub for the northern Midwest region. Agriculture has long been of primary importance to Fargo, as the Red River Valley area contains some of the richest farmland in the world; related industries include agribusiness and agricultural research. However, in recent years, software companies have brought a touch of Silicon Valley to the area.

The principal manufacturing employer is Case I H, makers of heavy-duty tractors. Terminals for two oil pipeline systemsStandard Oil Company of Indiana and Great Lakes Pipeline Company of Oklahomaare located in Fargo-Moorhead. The Standard Oil pipeline is connected with the company's refinery in Whiting, Indiana, which produces more than 30,000 barrels of oil a day.

Fargo has received many accolades for its economy and pro-business environment. In 2004, Business Development Outlook magazine ranked the Fargo-Moorhead area fifth on its list of "Best Places for a Thriving Economy." Also in 2004, Expansion Management magazine rated the area as one of the top places to locate a company, and Forbes magazine ranked it the second-best small city in the country for business and careers.

Items and goods produced: food, concrete, dairy and meat products, fur coats, jewelry, luggage, neon signs, electrical apparatus, sweet clover and sunflower seeds

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

Several incentive programs are available to businesses that locate or expand in Cass County; among them are property tax and income tax exemptions, an interest rate subsidy program, and loans of up to $8,000 at U.S. treasury rates. The Chamber of Commerce of Fargo Moorhead offers business services to its members, including an employee assistance program, group medical insurance, and seminars.

State programs

North Dakota's Economic Development & Finance Division assists businesses with start-up, expansion, and recruitment. Dakota Certified Development Company (CDC) administers the Small Business Administration 504 program in North Dakota. The program creates and retains jobs via the financing of real estate and equipment. The North Dakota Development fund provides secondary sources of funding to businesses through loans and equity investments.

Job training programs

Several state and federal programs assist in training or retraining workers. Workforce 2000 aids North Dakota employers in implementing new technologies and work methods. Under the Workforce 2000 program, the cost of employee training may be reimbursed. New Jobs Training provides financial assistance to businesses filling hourly job positions.

Economic Development Information: Fargo-Cass County Economic Development Corporation, 51 Broadway, Suite 500, Fargo, ND 58102; telephone (701)364-1900

Development Projects

In 1999, the North Dakota legislature established the Renaissance Zone program to encourage private sector investment in neglected areas. Approved projects are eligible for tax exemptions and credits. Fargo's Renaissance Zone, which encompasses 35 blocks of the downtown area, saw more than $200 million worth of development projects each year between 1999 and 2004. The downtown revitalization has included storefront rehabilitation, beautification and the conversion of unused buildings into commercial and residential space.

In 2002, MeritCare Health System began a five-year, $55 million renovation to the downtown MeritCare Medical Center campus. The first major renovation to the facility since the 1970s will see the expansion and renovation of the children's hospital, the conversion of most patient hospital rooms into private rooms, an addition to house the Heart Services department, and the construction of a two-tier parking facility.

Commercial Shipping

Fargo is served by the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad, which has its Dakota Division headquarters in Fargo; the average daily number of trains is 60. More than 120 regional, national, and international truck lines serve Cass County, transport products, machinery, and bulk commodities to and from Fargo.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Fargo has become a resettling point for Bosnians, Somalis, Sudanese, and others who have joined Fargo's labor force. Fargo boasts a well-educated labor force that has been shown to be 20 percent more productive than the national average. A strong Midwestern work ethic contributes to a low absentee rate, and over half of Cass County businesses have a turnover rate of 5 percent or less. In 2003, more than 80 percent of Fargo's workforce held high school diplomas. North Dakota is a right to work state. In February of 2005 Fargo's unemployment rate was just under 4 percent; an unemployment rate of 3 percent or less is considered full employment.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual average.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 109,600

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 6,500

manufacturing: 8,900

trade, transportation, and utilities: 24,900

information: 3,200

financial activities: 8,100

professional and business services: 10,300

educational and health services: 15,600

leisure and hospitality: 11,100

other services: 4,900 government: 16,100

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.90

Unemployment rate: 3.8% (February 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
MeritCare Health System 6,100
North Dakota State University 3,391
Fargo Public School District Number One 1,320
Dakota Clinic, Ltd. 1,200
Microsoft 960
US Bank Service Center 925
City of Fargo 750
Innovis Health 740

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Fargo is well below the national average.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Fargo area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $228,990

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 90.4 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.67% to 12.0%

State sales tax rate: 5.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.5%

Property tax rate: 484.06 mills for School District #1; 418.53 mills for School District #6 (2004). An individual property's annual property tax is determined by multiplying the taxable value by that year's mill levy. An assessment ratio of 50% is multiplied by the Assessor's appraisal to get assessed value. Then, the assessed value is multiplied by 9% for residential and 10% for all other property classes to get taxable value. Therefore, the taxable value of residential property is 4.5% of the Asses-sor's estimate of value and 5% of the Assessor's value for commercial and agricultural property.

Economic Information: Fargo-Cass County Economic Development Corporation, 51 Broadway, Suite 500, Fargo, ND 58102; telephone (701)364-1900

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US, 1996

Director: Joel Coen

Production: Gramercy Pictures, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films; color, 35mm; running time: 98 minutes; length: 2732 meters. Filmed in Minnesota and North Dakota; cost: $7 million.

Producers: Ethan Coen, Tim Bevan (executive), Eric Fellner (executive); screenplay: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; cinematographer: Roger Deakins; music: Carter Burwell; editors: Ethan Coen (as Roderick Jaynes), Joel Coen (as Roderick Jaynes); casting: John Lyons; production design: Rick Heinrichs; art direction: Thomas P. Wilkins; set decoration: Lauri Gaffin; costume design: Mary Zophres; makeup: John Blake, Daniel Curet.

Cast: William H. Macy (Jerry Lundegaard); Steve Buscemi (Carl Showalter); Frances McDormand (Marge Gunderson); Peter Stormare (Gaear Grimsrud); Kristin Rudrüd (Jean Lundegaard); Harve Presnell (Wade Gustafson); Tony Denman (Scotty Lundegaard); Gary Houston (Irate Customer); Sally Wingert (Irate Customer's Wife); Kurt Schweickhardt (Car Salesman); Larissa Kokernot (Hooker #1); Melissa Peterman (Hooker #2); Steve Reevis (Shep Proudfoot); Warren Keith (Reilly Diefenbach); Steve Edelman (Morning Show Host); Sharon Anderson (Morning Show Hostess); Larry Brandenburg (Stan Grossman); James Gaulke (State Trooper); and others.

Awards: Cannes Film Festival Best Director Award (Coen), 1996; National Board of Review Awards for Best Actress (McDormand) and Best Director (Coen), 1996; Australian Film Institute Best Foreign Film Award, 1996; Casting Society of America Artios Award (John S. Lyons), 1996; Academy Award for Best Actress (Frances McDormand) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen), 1997; American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film, 1997; Bodil Festival Award for Best American Film, 1997; British Academy Awards David Lean Award for Direction (Joel Coen), 1997; Writers Guild of America Screen Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Coen and Coen), 1997; Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (McDormand), 1997; and many other awards.



Coen, Joel, and Ethan Coen, Fargo, London, 1996.


Wood, Paul A., Blood Siblings: The Cinema of Joel and Ethan Coen, Austin, 1999.

Ashbrook, John M., and Ellen Cheshire, Joel and Ethan Coen, Harpenden, 2000.

Korte, Joel and Ethan Coen, Cambridge, 2000.


Sante, Luc, "The Rise of the Baroque Directors," in Vogue, vol. 182, no. 9, September 1992.

Friend, Tad, "Inside the Coen Heads," in Vogue, vol. 184, no. 4, April 1994.

Robertson, William Preston, "The Coen Brothers Made Easy," in Playboy, vol. 41, no. 4, April 1994.

Lally, K., "Up North with the Coen Brothers," in Film Journal (New York), vol. 99, February 1996.

Dafoe, W., "Frances McDormand," in Bomb, no. 55, Spring 1996.

Probst, Christopher, "Cold-Blooded Scheming," in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), vol. 77, no. 3, March 1996.

Biskind, Peter, "Joel and Ethan Coen," in Premiere (Boulder), vol. 9, no. 7, March 1996.

Fuller, Graham, "Do Not Miss Fargo," in Interview, vol. 26, no. 3, March 1996.

McCarthy, Todd, and Derek Elley, "Global Helmers Fill Croisette Coffers," in Variety (New York), vol. 362, no. 11, 15 April 1996.

Blake, R.A., "Whiteout," in America, vol. 174, 20 April 1996.

Simon, J., "Forgo Fargo," in National Review, vol. 48, 22 April 1996.

Francke, Lizzie, "Hell Freezes Over," in Sight & Sound (London), vol. 6, no. 5, May 1996.

Andrew, Geoff, "Pros and Coens," in Time Out (London), no. 1343, 15 May 1996.

"Special Issue on Fargo," in Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), no. 456, November 1996.

Roman, Monica, "New York Crix Circle Takes Trip to Fargo," in Variety (New York), vol. 365, no. 7, 16 December 1996.

Probst, Christopher, "Exemplary Images," in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), vol. 78, no. 6, June 1997.

Norman, Barry, "A Case of Knowing When to Go to Fargo," in Radio Times (London), vol. 294, no. 3839, 30 August 1997.

* * *

"This is a true story," reads the on-screen caption at the beginning of Fargo. Ethan Coen's introduction to the published script tells it rather differently: "The story . . . aims to be both homey and exotic, and pretends to be true." Either way, this teasing, typically Coenesque ambiguity is something of a red herring (since fiction, in the classic definition, is a lie that tells the truth) but it makes an apt introduction to a film where the only people who win out are those who make no pretense to being anything other than they are.

Fargo marks a significant tonal shift in the Coens' work. It shares several favorite black-comedy elements with their earlier films—the solemnly off-the-wall dialogue, the laughably inept yet lethal heavies, the snowball effect of a relatively minor act of deception spiraling disastrously out of control—but also for the first time sets up a center of normality to counterpoint the off-kilter eccentricities on display elsewhere. Some previous Coen films do provide a focus for our sympathies, such as the childless Hi and Ed (Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter) in Raising Arizona, but that pair are themselves fairly advanced-state deranged. Fargo's Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), the heavily pregnant police chief, and her aptly-named husband Norm (John Carroll Lynch) present a picture of married life that's conventional to the point of stodginess, but sustained by a mutually supportive love.

Though Marge serves as the film's moral center, it's a full thirty minutes before she appears on screen. By then, the picture's been all but stolen by William H. Macy in his breakthrough role as Jerry Lundegaard, the hapless car salesman so desperate for money that he arranges to have his own wife kidnapped. With his wide, unhappy grin and paper-thin bonhomie ("You're darn tootin'!"), Jerry is visibly flailing on the edge of the abyss—and as so often happens in the Coens' tortuous world, the people he turns to for help are just as inept, and far less scrupulous, than he is.

Even in the rich gallery of Coen villains, the mismatched pair of Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud stand out as relishably vivid. (A running gag is that none of the witnesses can ever describe this highly distinctive duo beyond saying they were "kinda funny-lookin'.") Right from the start it is clear that the teaming of the small, twitchy, voluble Carl (Steve Buscemi at his most weaselly) and the huge, menacingly taciturn Gaear (Peter Stormare) is headed for a particularly vicious meltdown. Gaear, whose name and demeanor suggest one of the less savory denizens of the Icelandic sagas, is another of those monstrous figures-from-the-id who recur in the Coens' films, close kin to the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse in Raising Arizona or Charlie Meadows in Barton Fink. He also seems to be blood-brother to Paul Bunyan, whose mad-eyed effigy we glimpse by the highway outside Brainard, carrying an axe much like the one Gaear eventually buries in Carl's neck. (Following through on these forestry impulses, he proceeds to feed his ex-partner into a wood-chipper.)

Embodiments of the destructive instinct at its most self-defeating, Carl and Gaear casually bump off anybody who irritates them or even momentarily incommodes them. The death of the luckless Jean Lundegaard, Jerry's kidnapped wife, rates just two lines—Carl: "The fuck happen to her?" Gaear: "She started shrieking, y'know." Against these lethal clowns Marge Gunderson initially seems a hopelessly inadequate opponent, with her waddling, pregnant walk and slow speech. (The Coens, themselves Minnesota-born, have fun with local Scandinavian speech-patterns; most exchanges consist largely of "Oh, yah?" "Yah.") But Marge, compassionate but not sentimental, combines her nurturing role with the tenacity of the tough cop whose accepted image she so little resembles. Carl, Gaear, and Jerry violate everything her down-to-earth common sense believes in, summed up in her remarks to the captured Gaear: "And for what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than a little money, y'know. . . . And it's a beautiful day. I just don't understand it."

Marge's innate decency, and her comfortably affectionate relationship with Norm, provide Fargo with the core of warmth that was often lacking from the Coens' earlier films. The filmmakers also, for the first time, admit the intrusion of genuine grief in the reaction of Jerry's son Scotty to his mother's kidnaping.

Their next film, The Big Lebowski, features "Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) a character whose instinctive (if dope-hazed) humanity stands in contrast to the cheats, double-dealers, and thugs around him. Such elements seem set to add a deeper emotional investment to the Coens' work, without in the least detracting from their wit, inventiveness, and stylistic bravura.

—Philip Kemp

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Fargo: Recreation


A visit to Fargo might begin with a stop at the Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau's Visitors Center, where the Walk of Fame has been providing a little bit of Hollywood in the Midwest since 1989 with hand prints or footprints of more than 80 musicians, athletes, movie stars and dignitaries, including Neil Diamond, Bob Costas, Garth Brooks, President George W. Bush, and the Eagles.

One of downtown Fargo's more recent attractions is the Plains Art Museum; it offers regional art, guided tours, and facilities for receptions. Included in the museum's permanent collection are pieces by Mary Cassatt, Luis Jimenez, and William Wegman. Bonanzaville USA is a recreated pioneer village of 40 restored buildings on a 15-acre site; the structures were relocated from a number of small North Dakota towns and represent various types of architecture. Included among them are a drugstore, general store, sod and farm houses, district courtroom, and barber shop. Vintage automobiles, farm machinery, and airplanes are also on exhibit. The main attraction at Moorhead's Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center is the sailing ship the late Robert Asp of Moorhead modeled after ancient Viking vessels. Housed in an architecturally distinctive building that also includes the Clay County Historical Museum, the ship made a journey from Duluth, Minnesota, to Bergen, Norway, in 1982.

The Solomon G. Comstock Historic House in Moorhead is the former home of this prominent Fargo-Moorhead figure who was a financier and political and cultural force in the community. The authentically restored Victorian house contains its original furnishings. The Roger Maris Museum in the West Acres Shopping Center pays tribute to the city's most famous athlete, who broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record in 1961 when he hit 61 home runs. Maris donated all of his trophies and sports memorabilia to the museum as a tribute to the city in which he grew up. The Children's Museum at Yunker Farm, a century-old farm house, presents participatory learning exhibits in the physical, natural, and social sciences.

Arts and Culture

The Fargo Theatre, a landmark movie theater built in 1926, has been fully restored and is the site of film showings as well as live theater, music, and dance performances. On weekends, the Mighty Wurlitzer organ performs intermission music during each show at the theater. The Fargo-Moorhead Community Theater group stages 12 annual productions at the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre. Other local performing groups are the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, the Fargo-Moorhead Opera, and the Red River Dance and Performing Company. The Trollwood Performing Arts School provides arts education, entertainment, and activities for children.

Festivals and Holidays

The Fargo Film Festival, in March, screens the best in independent filmmaking at the Fargo Theatre and other downtown locations. In July, the Downtown Street Fair features craft booths, food, and entertainment. Bonanzaville USA holds Pioneer Days in August, when more than 100 demonstrators revive the skills and crafts of the past. The Fargo Blues Festival, in August, is a two-day event that features world class bands; more than 20 Grammy winners or nominees have performed at the event, which has been called one of "America's Best" by actor Dan Aykroyd. A Winter Blues Fest is held in February. The Big Iron Farm Show fills the Red River Valley Fairgrounds on the second weekend in September, bringing the latest farm products and services from 400 agribusiness exhibitors. The holiday season brings Christmas on the Prairie at Bonanzaville USA and the annual Santa Village at Rheault Farm, with opportunities to feed deer, meet Santa, and enjoy a sleigh ride.

Sports for the Spectator

Although Fargo does not field any major league sports teams, it is home to other professional and collegiate teams. The Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the Northern League play baseball at Newman Outdoor Field. The Fargo-Moorhead Jets are a Junior A developmental league hockey team for 17- to 20-year-olds making the transition from high school to college; they play a 54-game season from September through March at the John E. Carson Coliseum.

The North Dakota State University Bison have won 20 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II national championships, including the 2002 women's indoor track and field championship. The university fields men's and women's teams in 10 sports, including football, basketball, baseball, and softball. The Moorhead State University Dragons, and the Concordia College Cobbers also present a complete schedule of men's and women's major and minor sports. The Red River Valley Speedway presents stock car racing.

Sports for the Participant

The Fargo Park District sponsors an extensive program of sports for all age groups. Recreational facilities include 73 public parks, 12 public golf courses, 38 public tennis courts, and 4 public swimming pools. Winter sports are particularly popular with ice skating, figure skating, and youth and adult hockey available at both indoor and outdoor facilities; outdoor rinks are equipped with warming houses. Other recreational pursuits include volleyball, basketball, track, soccer, walking, cross-country skiing, ballroom dancing, table tennis, and broom ball. The Scheels Fargo Marathon is held in May.

Charitable and cultural organizations sponsor gaming operations at 39 casinos in Fargo-Moorhead's public establishments. Profits benefit the programs of the sponsoring organizations, and fraternal groups allocate profits to public causes. Games include blackjack, paper slot machines, bingo, and tri-wheel.

Shopping and Dining

The Fargo shopping scene is a mix of unique local establishments and national retailers. The Crafters Mall, open year round, has more than 250 display areas featuring crafts from around the country. The Fargo Antique Mall is one of the largest in the state, with more than 7,000 square feet of antiques, books, and collectibles. Gordmans is a local department store selling name brand clothing and shoes, fragrances, furniture, and home accessories. West Acres Shopping Center, the largest mall in the region with more than 120 stores and restaurants, is anchored by Marshall Field's, JC Penney, Sears, and Herberger's.

Fargo restaurants offer a range of choices. Ethnic options include Asian, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, and Mexican. Dining in historic settings is offered at Runck Chateau Ranch, a working cattle ranch, and at The White House, District 31Victoria's, and The Conservatory.

Visitor Information: Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2001 44th Street SW, Fargo, ND 58103; telephone (701)282-3653; toll-free (800)235-7654

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Fargo: History

Railroad Route Creates Townsite

The city of Fargo was founded by the Northern Pacific Railway in 1871 in expectation of the railroad track to be built across the Red River of the North. This particular location was selected as a safeguard against flooding because it represented the highest point on the river. The city was named for William G. Fargo, founder of the Wells-Fargo Express Company and a director of the Northern Pacific Railway. When the railroad announced in 1871 that a track would be laid from Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean, land speculators sought to capitalize on the opportunity. Thus ensued attempts on the part of both the railroad and the speculators to outwit one another and to gain first possession of the land. For a time the railroad staked a claim but after much litigation decided to withdraw.

During the winter of 1871 to 1872, the settlement was divided into two distinct communities. One of them, "Fargo on the Prairie," became headquarters of the Northern Pacific engineers and their families. Although they lived in tents, the accommodations were the best available given the conditions. The other, "Fargo in the Timber," was much cruder and more primitive, consisting of huts, log houses, dugouts, and riverbank caves. The Timber community became known for its hard-drinking, gun-carrying men who had a rough sense of humor and enjoyed practical jokes. A delivery of potatoes to the Prairie community was once sabotaged by the Timber men, who loosened the wagon endgates and shot their guns to scare the horses. The potatoes that spilled onto the ground turned out to be the only supply available for the winter.

Fargo was located in what was still legally Native American territory, and the railroad company claimed the Timber residents were illegal squatters on Native American land and were selling illegal liquor. In February of 1872, federal troops surrounded the Timber settlement, issuing warrants for the arrest of those accused of selling liquor and ordering the others to leave under threat of destruction of their crude homes. The settlers appealed to the government, claiming their land rights had been violated. A treaty was negotiated with the native tribes that opened the land to settlement and those who had not broken the law were able to retain their land.

Agricultural Prosperity Survives Disasters

Law and order followed with the arrival of new settlers on the first train of the Northern Pacific to cross the Red River on June of 1872. Soon residents were surprised to learn that Fargo was situated on rich wheat land. With the reduction of freight rates in 1873, farming became economically profitable and the town prospered. Two decades later Fargo suffered a severe fire, which began on one of the main streets and consumed the entire business district as well as the northwestern sector. This tragedy led to many civic improvements and put an end to wood construction.

Near disaster struck again four years later, when the Red River, dammed by ice north of Fargo, began rising. It continued to rise for a week; in order to save the railroad bridges, locomotive and threshing machines were placed on them. Citizens were forced to evacuate through second-story windows, and the flood carried away 18 blocks of sidewalk and 20 blocks of wooden street paving.

During the first 30 years of the twentieth century, Fargo prospered from an influx of Norwegian immigrants who were attracted by the promise of a better life and a free farm. Fleeing economic depression in their own country, they introduced their customs to the upper Red River Valley, thus helping to shape the character of present-day Fargo. The city remains an important agricultural center as well as a regional distribution and transportation hub.

Due to its affordable housing, workforce availability, high standards of living and education, and low unemployment rate, in 2004 Expansion Management magazine awarded Fargo a "Five Star Community" rating in its annual "Quality of Life Quotient."

Historical Information: North Dakota State University Library, North Dakota Historical Manuscript, Photograph, and Book Collection, 1301 12th Ave. N., PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105; telephone (710)231-8886

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Fargo: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Public elementary and secondary schools in Fargo are part of Fargo Public School District #1. A superintendent is appointed by a nine-member, nonpartisan school board. The district offers special education classes to students with special needs. Advanced placement classes are available to high-performing high school students. Career and technical education classes at the high school level allow students to receive instruction in fields that pertain to specific careers or interests.

The following is a summary of data regarding Fargo public schools as of the 20022003 school year.

Total enrollment: 11,095

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 14

middle schools: 3

senior high schools: 3

Student/teacher ratio: 21.6:1

Teacher salaries average: $39,029

Funding per pupil: $6,795

Six parochial schools are operated by the Catholic and Lutheran churches in Fargo.

Public Schools Information: Fargo Public Schools, 415 4th Street North, Fargo, ND 58102; telephone (701)446-1000

Colleges and Universities

The Fargo-Moorhead community is served by three universities as well as several vocational schools. North Dakota State University in Fargo, with an enrollment of nearly 12,000 students, awards baccalaureate, master's, and doctorate degrees in a wide range of disciplines; colleges within the university are humanities and social sciences, agriculture, engineering and architecture, home economics, pharmacy, science and mathematics, and teacher education. Located on the university campus is Tri-College University, a consortium of area colleges and universities that allows students to take classes at Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead at no extra charge. Cardinal Meunch Seminary trains young men for the priesthood. Aakers College is a private, two-year degree granting institution. Concordia College, Moorhead State University, and Moorhead Technical College are located in Moorhead.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Fargo Public Library maintains holdings of more than 133,000 volumes, more than 250 magazine and newspaper subscriptions, and compact discs, films, DVDs, and audio-and videotapes. The library maintains computers with Internet access and various software applications that are available to the public. Children's services include story time and a summer reading program. The library operates one branch library and a bookmobile in addition to the main branch. Online research databases may be accessed through the library's Internet website. The North Dakota State University Library houses about 402,807 books, 5,090 periodical and subscription titles, and CD-ROMs, audio- and videotapes, and maps. Special collections include bonanza farming, the North Dakota Biography Index, North Dakota Pioneer Reminiscences, and the North Dakota Historical Manuscript, Photograph and Book Collection; the library is also a depository for federal and state documents. Specialized libraries in the city are affiliated with hospitals, fraternal societies, and religious organizations.

The Northern Crop Science Laboratory on the North Dakota State University campus is a division of the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Government and university scientists conduct cooperative research on barley, hard red spring wheat, durum wheat, flax, sunflowers, and sugar beets; the goal is to expand and retain profitable production of these crops through the use of the most advanced equipment and research techniques.

Public Library Information: Fargo Public Library, 102 North Third Street, Fargo, ND 58102; telephone (701) 241-1472

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Fargo: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 137,574

1990: 153,296

2000: 174,367

Percent change, 19902000: 13.7%

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 179th

City Residents

1980: 61,383

1990: 74,084

2000: 90,599

2003 estimate: 91,484

Percent change, 19902000: 22.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 329th

U.S. rank in 1990: 297th (State rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 302nd (State rank: 1st)

Density: 2,388.2 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 85,321

Black or African American: 922

American Indian and Alaska Native: 1,119

Asian: 1,482

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 40

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 1,167

Other: 400

Percent of residents born in state: 59%

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 5,763

Population 5 to 9 years old: 5,263

Population 10 to 14 years old: 5,008

Population 15 to 19 years old: 7,012

Population 20 to 24 years old: 13,477

Population 25 to 34 years old: 15,144

Population 35 to 44 years old: 13,051

Population 45 to 54 years old: 11,054

Population 55 to 59 years old: 3,157

Population 60 to 64 years old: 2,550

Population 65 to 74 years old: 4,532

Population 75 to 84 years old: 3,171

Population 85 years and older: 1,417

Median age: 30.1 years

Births (2001, Cass County) Total number: 1,727

Deaths (2001, Cass County) Total number: 747

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $21,101

Median household income: $35,510

Total households: 39,354

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 3,888

$10,000 to $14,999: 3,022

$15,000 to $24,999: 6,384

$25,000 to $34,999: 6,085

$35,000 to $49,999: 6,861

$50,000 to $74,999: 7,010

$75,000 to $99,999: 2,898

$100,000 to $149,999: 2,095

$150,000 to $199,999: 454

$200,000 or more: 657

Percent of families below poverty level: 6.6% (45% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 3,266

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Fargo: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Fargo's daily newspaper is The Forum. The paper's Internet website also provides daily coverage as well as archives of previous stories. Other newspapers include New Earth, a Catholic Diocese publication, and Spectrum, the bi-weekly North Dakota State University student newspaper. The Area Woman is a free quarterly magazine. The Fargo-Moorhead Magazine is a free local-interest magazine published every-other month. Prairie Business, a regional business magazine targeted toward readers in North Dakota, South Dakota, and western Minnesota, is published monthly.

Television and Radio

Six television stationsfive commercial and one publicbroadcast in Fargo; cable service is available. Sixteen AM and FM radio stations schedule a variety of programming.

Media Information: The Forum, 105 5th Street North, Fargo, ND 58102-4826; telephone (701)235-7311

Fargo Online

City of Fargo home page. Available www.ci.fargo.nd.us

Fargo-Cass County Economic Development Corporation. Available www.fedc.com

Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce. Available www.fmchamber.com

Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available www.fargomoorhead.org

Fargo Public Library. Available www.ci.fargo.nd.us/library

The Forum. Available www.in-forum.com

North Dakota State University. Available www.ndsu.nodak.edu

Selected Bibliography

Gudmundson, Wayne, Crossings: a photographic document of Fargo, North Dakota (North Dakota Institute)

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Fargo: Introduction
Fargo: Geography and Climate
Fargo: History
Fargo: Population Profile
Fargo: Municipal Government
Fargo: Economy
Fargo: Education and Research
Fargo: Health Care
Fargo: Recreation
Fargo: Convention Facilities
Fargo: Transportation
Fargo: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1871 (incorporated, 1875)

Head Official: Mayor Bruce Furness (D) (since 1994)

City Population

1980: 61,383

1990: 74,084

2000: 90,599

2003 estimate: 91,484

Percent change, 19902000: 22.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 329th

U.S. rank in 1990: 297th

U.S. rank in 2000: 302nd

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 137,574

1990: 153,296

2000: 174,367

Percent change, 19902000: 13.7%

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 179th

Area: 38 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 900 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 41° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 19.6 inches of rain; 35 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Wholesale and retail trade, services, government

Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $21,101 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 3,266

Major Colleges and Universities: North Dakota State University

Daily Newspaper: The Forum

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Fargo ★★★ 1996 (R)

Another malicious, extradark comedy from the Coen brothers. Car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (Macy) hires a couple of losers to kidnap his wife so he can swindle the ransom money out of his fatherinlaw. Naturally, the scheme begins to unravel and the very pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (McDormand) treks through the frozen tundra of Minnesota to put the pieces of the puzzle together. McDormand's performance as the chatty competent chief is first rate. Needling the flataccented Midwesterners of their youth, the Coens have also returned to their filmmaking roots after the disappointing bigbudget “Hudsucker Proxy.” Because Minneapolis was having its warmest, driest winter in 100 years, the Coens were forced to shoot most of the exteriors in wintery North Dakota. 97m/C VHS, DVD . William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Harve Presnell, Steve Reevis, John Carroll Lynch, Kristin Rudrud, Steve Park, Jose Feliciano; D: Joel Coen; W: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen; C: Roger Deakins; M: Carter Burwell. Oscars '96: Actress (McDormand), Orig. Screenplay; AFI '98: Top 100; Australian Film Inst. '96: Foreign Film; British Acad. '96: Director (Coen); Cannes '96: Director (Coen); Ind. Spirit '97: Actor (Macy), Actress (McDormand), Cinematog., Director (Coen), Film, Screenplay; Natl. Bd. of Review '96: Actress (McDormand), Director (Coen), Natl. Film Reg. '06;; N.Y. Film Critics '96: Film; Screen Actors Guild '96: Actress (McDormand); Writers Guild '96: Orig. Screenplay; Broadcast Film Critics '96: Actress (McDormand), Film.

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Fargo: Geography and Climate

Flat and open terrain surrounds Fargo, which is situated on the eastern boundary of North Dakota opposite Moorhead, Minnesota, in the Red River Valley of the North. The Red River, part of the Hudson Bay drainage area, flows north between the two cities.

Precipitation is generally Fargo's most significant climatic feature. The Red River Valley lies in an area where lighter amounts of precipitation fall to the west and heavier amounts to the east. Seventy-five percent of the precipitation, accompanied by electrical storms and heavy rainfall in a short period of time, occurs during the growing season, April to September.

Summers are comfortable, with low humidity, warm days, and cool nights. Winters are cold and dry, the temperatures remaining at zero or below approximately half of the time; snowfall is generally light. The legendary Dakota blizzards result from drifting of even minimal snowfall, caused by strong winds that blow unimpeded across the flat terrain.

Area: 38 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 900 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 6° F; July, 71° F; annual average, 41° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 19.6 inches of rain; 35 inches of snow