North Dakota February 27, 2017
North Dakota’s Major Cities Looked So Different In 1940. Bismarck Especially.
The times are always changing, and particularly in the last century we have seen a dramatic shift in technology and the way we live. Through North Dakota’s rich history, our towns and cities have changed and been through both prosperity and heartache. The places that we live in now probably looked totally different seven decades ago, and in most cases they did. Here is a look back at what some of the state’s major cities (and a city or two that used to be more major as compared to today) looked like in the past.
Can you recognize where these were taken before reading the description of each photograph? Find out for yourself:
1. A busy, bustling city scene taken in October of 1940. Where is it?
This photo was taken in Grand Forks, ND, one of the state's largest cities even back then. Shops, hotels, and more can be seen in this photograph. It certainly felt like a big city then, just as it does today.
2. High school football players taking a stroll through a downtown street.
This was taken in Minot, ND in October of 1940. In the background you can see quite a bit of the city street, full of cars and people, and it is interesting to see the difference in football gear back then to today. How the times have changed!
3. Nighttime in a shopping area of downtown in this city, where the storefront windows still glowed with light.
This photograph was taken in North Dakota's biggest city, Fargo. It was taken in the fall of 1940. Today, the population is over 100,000 residents, but back then it had only 32,000. It was still one of the most major cities in the state at that time.
4. This city neighborhood got hit pretty hard with snow that winter.
This photo was taken in February of 1942 in a residential section of Dickinson, ND. Residents of this state have been dealing with this kind of weather always, and that is something that certainly hasn't changed over time!
5. A dust storm blew through this city street just before this picture was taken.
The city this was taken in is Williston, ND. Barber shop poles are certainly something you don't see anymore today! In the late 1930s and early 1940s, North Dakota was part of the Dust Bowl. That was a period when major droughts hit the midwest and high winds created huge dust storms and made it a very difficult time for farmers. This affected the towns and cities, too, as you can see here.
6. This one should be easy - a photograph of one of the most iconic buildings in North Dakota taken in 1942.
This building is, of course, North Dakota's state capitol in Bismarck. Today, the area around it is filled with dense residential and commercial areas, but back in 1942, it had just been built 10 years prior and the land around it was still mostly farms. You wouldn't see a horse pasture next to it today, that's for sure!
7. A main street scene of a North Dakota town taken in February of 1942.
Could you guess this one? It isn't quite a major city, but it looks like it could be one. It was taken in New Salem, ND. The population then was pretty much the same as the population now, but that's not to say it has stayed the same over the entire half century that has passed. It did have a small population boost from the following decade up until the 1980s, after which it started to decline again.
8. A club just outside of a city in North Dakota, taken in 1940.
Devils Lake, ND is where this photograph was taken. Back then, the population was only about 1,000 residents off from what it is today.
How many were you able to guess? Even if everything is always changing, at least pieces of the past still exist so we can see them today and compare. You can find more fascinating photographs of North Dakota’s history