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Timeline: 1970s

By | Last Modified: February 3, 2020


  • Numerous laborers, including plumbers, bricklayers, and sheetmetal workers, strike and picket major construction projects. Work ceased on several major developments, including Kirkwood Plaza, Town House Motel, Wachter Junior High, and the Parkade.Among other demands, the Plumbers and Steam Fitters Local 795 union demanded a flat $9 per day subsistence payment for work outside city limits, and a $1.50 per hour pay increase to $1.35.
  • Dan’s Kirkwood Supervalu opens in March (some sources cite September).
  • Town House Hotel opens. The hotel files for bankruptcy in March 1988 and is acquired by Kelly Inn Limited of Sioux Falls in May 1988, who also owned Bismarck’s Sheraton Galleria. Kelly Inn closed in February 2019, and demolition began in January 2020.
  • First stores open at Kirkwood Mall: Woolworth (March 18) and Montgomery Ward (September 23).
  • Bismarck Theater (formerly Eltinge and Paramount) closes. Its replaced by Plaza Twin (later Plaza 3) at Kirkwood Mall.
  • Big Boy/KFC establishes a downtown location at the southeast corner of 6th & Thayer. It remains there until 1982.


  • Kirkwood Mall officially opens. A Grand Opening celebration is held in May with namesake Robert Kirkwood in attendance.
  • Kmart opens in October. It is one of the first businesses to open north of I-94 along the State Street Corridor and Bismarck’s second modern-day discount department store (after Northbrook’s much smaller Tempo in 1963). Originally referred to as “Kmart Shopping Center,” the building consisted of the 84,000-square-foot namesake department store and a 20,000-square-foot National Food Store store operated by National Tea (named Kmart Foods until 1974). Dan’s Supervalu later occupies the grocery store until building its own store across the street in 1980. Kmart eventually expands into the space, consuming the entire building.
  • Country Kitchen opens at 1201 E Main Avenue. It is the first of two – the second opening at 1307 Interchange Avenue about two years later. It closes in 1979. It later houses a succession of restaurants, including Ron’s Family Restaurant until 1984, Weisbeck’s Family Restaurant until 1989, Main Street Diner until 1990, and finally Dakota Farms. Today, the building houses Land O’ Lakes.
  • New Missouri Valley YMCA building opens at Divide and Washington
  • Village Inn Pizza Parlor opens at 434 S 3rd Street. It was the company’s second location, after Minot. Not to be confused with Village Inn Pancake House, which opens in 1972 at 405 S 7th Street. Rax occupies the building in 1985, followed by Applebees in 1992.
  • Seven Seas Inn opens in northwest Mandan with 106 rooms, 340-person banquet area, 116-seat dining area, and 80-capacity cocktail area (April). A service station, located immediately to its east, was also part of the project. A Seven Seas dining establishment previously existed in the Greengard Commercial Building, which was destroyed by fire in 1970.
  • A second Bismarck Dairy Queen is established at 2021 E Main (now Oaktree Realtors).
  • Mort Bank establishes Bismarck’s first McDonalds at 2207 E Main Avenue. The $90,000 building replaced Blue Ribbon Hatchery and a house that were formerly on the site. At first, the restaurant offered only counter pickup service. It was expanded in 1973 to add indoor seating, and in 1980 to add a drive-through. That location is replaced by the McRock Cafe in 1992.
  • United Tribes Technical College is established (as United Tribes Training Center) at the former Fort Lincoln.


  • Edward Wetsch and Jim Glatt purchase Kroll’s Kitchen
  • Village Inn Pancake House opens at 405 S 7th Street in December. Not to be confused with Village Inn Pizza, which opened at 434 S 3rd Street in 1971, it is the first Village Inn Pancake House to open in North Dakota. A second Village Inn Pancake House opens at 2240 N 12th in 1977. International Inn replaces both restaurants in 1986. Denny’s later replaces the south location in 1988.
  • Mr. Steak opens at 431 S 3rd Street. The site is later home to Jade Garden and Los Amigos. Today, it is home to CVS/pharmacy.
  • A third Bismarck Dairy Queen is established on State Street (spring).
  • Dorothy Moses Elementary opens, named for a longtime school board clerk.
  • Financing for a second high school (Century) is approved.
  • Plans are unveiled to remodel the Bank of North Dakota building. A western theme is chosen. The building’s exterior is covered with a new facade. The building was formerly home to an automobile dealer. It was demolished in 2008, shortly after the bank relocated to its new facility on the former site of Holiday Inn.
  • Fort Lincoln Estates is established. It reorganizes as the City of Lincoln in 1977.


  • Bismarck’s first Taco John’s opens at 1922 E Broadway in January. It is the 46th Taco John’s to open nationally. The restaurant is later expanded, including the addition of a drive-through.
  • First American Bank & Trust building at Main Avenue and 3rd Street is destroyed by fire on January 4th. Built in 1882, it was the city’s second brick building erected.The fire originated in vacant offices on the 2nd floor. While the main floor was undamaged from the fire itself, the structural integrity of the building was significantly compromised. It was a total loss, with damages estimated at around $400,000.Efforts to douse the blaze, with wind chills of 40 degrees below zero, leaves behind a thick ice sheet covering the structure. The site now contains the 3rd Street Parking Ramp.It was the city’s largest fire in nearly 10 years, when the Fleck Motors building was destroyed in 1951.
  • Grand is broken for the Mandan Community Center, which opens in 1975.
  • A&B Pizza opens first Mandan restaurant, at 422 W Main Street. It relocates in 1978.
  • First annual Downtowner’s Street Fair is held
  • Second Country Kitchen opens at 1307 Interchange Avenue. The location later houses Cary’s Kitchen and Highway 83 Diner. It is destroyed by fire in November 2005.
  • The Kavaney family requests rezoning and re-platting of land originally intended for the ill-fated Century Mall that will eventually house Gateway Mall and other commercial projects.
  • Kirkwood Bank & Trust established.
  • Jeannette Myhre Elementary opens, named for a former principal.


  • Bismarck School Board unanimously approves the naming of its upcoming second high school “Century.” The name is chosen both from its position on Century Avenue and due to the fact that the school’s construction was approved in 1972 – Bismarck’s centennial year.
  • Kirkwood Motor Inn (now Ramkota Inn) opens across from Kirkwood Mall
  • Grand Pacific Hotel is demolished
  • Basic Electric Headquarters completed
  • The Vocational-Technical Center (VoTech) opens on the Bismarck Junior College campus.
  • Bismarck’s first Pizza Hut opens on the frontage road along State Street.
  • Melroe Manufacturing (Bobcat) opens its Bismarck plant
  • GP Warehouse Emporium opens, later replaced by Front Page Tavern.
  • Ben Franklin store opens at Arrowhead Plaza. It is originally a variety store, but later transitions into a craft store. The store closed in 2007.
  • Kmart Foods rebrands as National. The change last one a year before Dan’s Century Supervalu opens inside.
  • Thunderbird Home Improvement relocates into a new 18,000-square-foot building at 1405 E Interstate Avenue (September). It was previously housed at 619 E Broadway Avenue. The store closes in 1995 after a succession of different owners.
  • Little Cottage Cafe is established. The restaurant is housed in the former office building for Tyler Cabins, which was relocated onto the site in 1964 from the then-site of the Holiday Inn.
  • Wheel-A-While is established. The popular rolling skating rink closes in 1987.
  • Vocational-Technical Center (VoTech) opens on the Bismarck Junior College campus.
  • Schaumberg Arena opens. The facility is renovated and expanded to include the Schaumberg Arena and Wachter Arenas in 2017.


  • Dan’s Century Supervalu opens inside Kmart (relocated in 1981, then again in 2003)
  • New building for Roosevelt Elementary opens
  • Mandan Community Center opens, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on January 15th, followed by a grand opening celebration in February.
  • Century High School opens
  • City Commission approves “State Street” name assignment to Highway 83 from Boulevard Avenue north
  • The Federal Highway Administration approves an overpass for 19th Street at Interstate 94. Burleigh County Commission later approves funding the extension of 19th Street from the overpass to Century Avenue. At the time, the land was not yet part of Bismarck.


  • In February, Bob Kavaney requests rezoning and re-platting of land that will eventually house Gateway Mall, setting aside 27 additional acres bounded by Century and Gateway Avenues for a proposed major shopping complex. 12 acres to the southwest would be dedicated for multi-housing to act as a buffer zone between commercial and single family units.
  • Downtown Wells Fargo Building is completed on former site of Grand Pacific Hotel
  • First-annual McQuade Softball Tournament
  • All-American Subs franchise opens on former Auto-Dine site (closed by 1980)
  • The Pepper Mill opens at 3rd and Bowen. The restaurant later obtained the license to manage the Airport lounge and cafe, that same year. It operated until 1979, when it was replaced by David’s Fine Foods. The building later houses Hollywood Nights Video/Planet Video and was destroyed by an electrical fire caused by the store’s sign in or around 2001. Hollywood Nights Video re-opened in a new building before America’s Mattress replaced it.
  • Northwest Fabrics holds its grand opening on January 22, 1976 at 2504 N 14th Street. The store later becomes Hancock Fabrics & Crafts.
  • City planners begin considering a stricter system of naming and platting streets, including “themed” neighborhoods. The concept of designating north-south roads exclusively as streets and east-west roads as avenues was adopted soon-after.
  • Fun Factory opens at 3014 N 11th Street. The entertainment facility featured fast food, several pinball machines, two air hockey tables, and eight pool tables. It closed by 1980.
  • Chancellor Square project debuts in downtown Bismarck, which includes a new set of one-ways on 6th and 4th Streets and Broadway and Thayer Avenues.


  • $15 million expansion project begins at Kirkwood Mall. When completed in 1980, Kirkwood will double in size and add two additional anchors.
  • Major winter fire destroys several buildings in downtown Bismarck
  • Bismarck’s first Burger King opens, on South 3rd at Bowen Avenue. The location is remodeled in 2014.
  • Village Inn Pizza Parlor relocates
  • Pacific Sound is established.
  • Fort Lincoln Estates is reorganized into the City of Lincoln, after a July election yields a 312-185 favorable vote.
  • Bismarck Theater is demolished to make room for First National Bank and Trust.
  • Golden Dragon opens at 410 E Main Avenue. The restaurant expands into the adjacent building in 1983 and closes in 2005. Its original building formerly housed the long-time clothier Dahl, along with Weeda’s. Blarney Stone occupied it in 2009.
  • The first local Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor opens, just south of Kmart. A second location later opens in south Bismarck. Both are replaced by Pizza Factory in 1984.
  • Prairie Rose Elementary opens.
  • Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips opens at 320 S 3rd, which was once a national chain consisting of roughly 800 locations. It was the state’s second Arthur Treacher’s restaurant. It then became the Copper Penny, a local restaurant, from 1981 until 1983, when Taco John’s occupied the building.


  • Construction commences at Gateway Mall (June)
  • Downtown U.S. Bank Building completed
  • 7th/9th Street one-way conversion project completes in September, which includes the addition of a railroad underpass on 7th Street. The project was recommended as part of an Urban Area Transportation Study in 1972.
  • Green Tree Square, a shopping center designed to house up to 8 tenants, opens inside the former Dakota National Bank building at 212 N 4th Street. The venture ceases in about 1985 or 1986.
  • A&B Pizza relocates Mandan restaurant, from 422 W Main Street to its present location at 609 1st Street NE.
  • The Donut Hole opens Mandan location at 600 E Main. The venture is a partnership that includes the owners of Dickinson’s Baker Boy. A Bismarck location follows in 1981. Today, it is known as Bearscat Bakehouse.
  • Shiloh Christian School begins operations in September. It is described as an “interdenominational evangelical school.” It initially consists of 7 full-time and 2 part-time teachers serving 43 students in grades K through 10th. It is strictly private with no federal or state funding.
  • Fiesta Villa opens in Mandan (relocated to Bismarck in 1983)
  • A new Corpus Christi church opens.
  • Robert Miller Elementary opens, named for the former superintendent.


  • Osco Drug is the first tenant to open at Gateway Mall in May, proceeding the mall’s soft opening in August and Grand Opening on September 12.
  • Last passenger train departs Bismarck when Amtrack discontinues local operations
  • King’s Food Host becomes The Woodhouse
  • Labelle’s opens a showroom in south Bismarck in August. The store is acquired by BEST Products in 1982, re-brands in 1987, and closes in 1997 following the company’s bankruptcy reorganization efforts.
  • Choice Cut Family Steakhouse is sold and converted into Bonanza. The new owner was the original owner of the Bismarck restaurant. The Mandan location closes in 2017.
  • Country Kitchen closes at 1201 E Main Avenue. It is one of two – the second opening at 1307 Interchange Avenue about two years later. It closes in 1979. It later houses a succession of restaurants, including Ron’s Family Restaurant until 1984, Weisbeck’s Family Restaurant until 1989, Main Street Diner until 1990, and finally Dakota Farms. Today, the building houses Land O’ Lakes.
  • Popeye’s Chicken opens at 1400 E Main Street in Mandan. Gramma’s Burgers of Mandan replaced Popeye’s by 1982, followed by Checker’s Bugget and Catering in 1988. The site is now home to Burger King. The fast food restaurant was opened by Glen and Delmar Grishkowsky, who later are initial partners in the first local Hardee’s, along with Kroll’s Kitchen owner Jim Glatt.
  • Robert Miller Elementary opens, named for the former superintendent.
  • GP Warehouse is temporarily replaced by Sports Page Tavern, then by Front Page Tavern
  • Project to widen State Street to six lanes between Divide and Century Avenues commences. The project also includes widening Highway 83 to four lanes between Bismarck and Washburn by 1983, and was expected to extend to Minot by 1985.
  • New traffic signals are installed on State Street/Highway 83 at Capitol and Century, on Main Avenue at 3rd, Ward and Avenue C, Rosser and 5th, Main and 26th Street, 3rd and Avenue C, and on Divide at Washington and 4th.
  • 26th Street is realigned to lessen its curve and intersection with Divide Avenue further east.
  • A new interchange is added west of the Liberty Memorial Bridge connecting to I-94
  • Herbergers completes a major renovation and expansion in November. Kirkwood Mall’s expansion necessitated reconstructing much of the Herberger’s anchor, which lied in the path of the mall’s expansion. The project was completed in three phases, adding 15,000 square feet to a total of 65,000. It was the largest Herberger’s at the time – a distinction it previously held upon first opening at Kirkwood.
  • Target opens at Kirkwood Mall as part of the mall’s expansion project (November). The store was originally planned to be a Dayton’s, but was changed in February 1979. The walkway directly into the mall isn’t completed until at least 1980.
  • David’s Fine Foods replaces The Pepper Mill at 3rd and Bowen. The building later houses Hollywood Nights Video/Planet Video and was destroyed by an electrical fire caused by the store’s sign in or around 2001. Hollywood Nights Video re-opened in a new building before America’s Mattress replaced it.
  • The city’s first Wendy’s opens at 2112 N 12th, replacing a service station on the site (September 25). Wendy’s relocates from the site in the about 2003, replacing a scraped A&W/Long John Silvers location. A second location on Expressway opens in 1985.
  • Jumbo’s Drive-in becomes Trails West. It closed in 1983.

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