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Timeline: 1930s

By | Last Modified: May 24, 2019


  • Wachter School expands, adding three rooms and a gymnasium
  • State capitol is consumed by fire on December 28, started by spontaneous combustion from a collection of rags covered with turpentine and varnish
  • J.C. Penney builds a new store


  • World War Memorial Building is dedicated on January 9th. The joint city-county community center was approved in 1929. The Art Deco-style building deployed the most modern construction techniques of the time. It contained the largest convention center in the state upon opening.
  • First commercial airplane lands in Bismarck
  • State-owned streetcar line is disestablished in the aftermath of the Capitol’s destruction (February 28)
  • Buttrey’s opens Bismarck store
  • Pioneer Park is dedicated (July 2)
  • New Burleigh County Courthouse is dedicated at 6th and Broadway on land donated by Dr. Quain.
  • Northwest Airways (later Norwest Airlines, now part of Delta) establishes Bismarck service. It is the longest-service airline for Bismarck, and even the sole airline provider for many years.


  • Voters overwhelmingly defeat Jamestown’s attempt to procure the capital, keeping it in Bismarck.
  • Ground is broken for new state capitol on August 13.
  • Elk’s Swimming Pool is constructed, Bismarck’s first swimming pool.


  • Capitol construction laborers strike, resulting in Governor William Langer declaring martial law
  • Voters legalize the sale and manufacture of beer in September. It was the first time alcohol could legally be sold since North Dakota was admitted as a dry state in 1889, which carried over into the nationwide Prohibition beginning in 1920.



  • New State Capitol is occupied (January)
  • New Bismarck High School building opens on September 10, and the junior high is moved into the former high school building.
  • Vantine Paint & Glass opens at 313 E Main Avenue


  • Edward Patterson establishes The Ring – a boxing-theme bar and restaurant located at 117 N 5th Street.


  • Shark’s Men’s Store opens
  • Federal Building completes an addition that roughly doubles its size (October).
  • North Dakota’s National Guard acquires the former Indian School site.


  • Bismarck Tribune wins Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles called “Self-Help in the Dustbowl”


  • Bismarck Junior College is established, occupying the top floor of Bismarck High School
  • Piggly Wiggly opens in Bismarck (becomes SuperValu in 1949)
  • Speed limits implemented for first time in Bismarck, but only on certain streets – Main Avenue listed at 25 MPH between 9th & Washington Streets and range between 30 & 40 MPH between 12th & 26th Streets
  • First traffic signal is installed at 9th Street & Main Avenue

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