The area that is present day Fargo was an early stopping point for steamboats floating down the Red River during the 1870s and 1880s. The city of Fargo was originally named "Centralia," but was later renamed to Fargo in honor of Northern Pacific Railway director and Wells Fargo Express Company founder William Fargo.
Fargo was founded in 1871. The area started to flourish after the arrival of the railroad and the city became known as the "Gateway to the West". Fargo boomed after World War II and the city grew rapidly despite being hit by a violent tornado in 1957. The tornado destroyed a large portion of the north end of the city.
The coming of the two interstates (I-29 and I-94) revolutionized travel in the region and pushed growth of Fargo to the south and west of the city limits. In 1972, the West Acres Shopping Center was constructed near the intersection of the two Interstates. This mall would become the catalyst for retail growth in the area. It would also spell the beginning of a time of decline for the downtown area of Fargo.
Since the late 1990s, the Fargom ND & Moorhead, Mn. Metropolitan Statistical Area has consistently had one of the lowest unemployment rates among MSAs in the United States. This, coupled with Fargo's low crime rate and the decent supply of affordable housing in the community, has prompted Money Magazine to rank the city near the top of its annual list of America's most livable cities throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. Fargo was also awarded in 2006 for having some of the cleanest air in the United States, for a city of its size.
Fargo Trivia The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly died in a plane crash while bound for Fargo on February 3, 1959. Known as "The Day the Music Died", the crash was made famous in the song "American Pie" by Don McLean.