Downtown Bismarck once embodied the initial growth and success of a bustling commercial center, with the earliest commercial and civic buildings constructed close to the railroad. Destroyed by a major fire in 1898, the downtown was rapidly rebuilt and transformed from a frontier town into a modern city. At its peak, downtown was served by all the dominant national retailers, as well as local retailers, but that changed in the 1970s, as it did in downtowns nationwide. The opening of two regional shopping centers in conjunction with the altered traffic patterns from construction of I-94 led to abandonment and decline in downtown Bismarck. The Patterson (BL6) and Grand Pacific hotels closed in the mid-1970s, unable to compete with newer hotels that had opened outside of the downtown area and along the I-94 corridor. From the beginning of the twenty-first century, the district has been revitalized and renewed by a tax incentive program for restoring the historic buildings as a viable cultural and entertainment center.
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Downtown Historic District
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