Fargo is a city in and the county seat of Cass County, North Dakota, United States. The most populous city in the state, it accounts for nearly 17% of the state population. According to the 2019 United States Census estimates, its population was 124,662, making it the 222nd-most populous city in the United States. Fargo, along with its twin city of Moorhead, Minnesota, as well as the adjacent cities of West Fargo, North Dakota and Dilworth, Minnesota, form the core of the Fargo-Moorhead, ND-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2018 contained a population of 245,471.
Founded in 1871 on the Red River of the North floodplain, Fargo is a cultural, retail, health care, educational, and industrial center for eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. The city is also home to North Dakota State University.
Historically part of Sioux (Dakota) territory, the area that is present-day Fargo was an early stopping point for steamboats traversing the Red River during the 1870s and 1880s. The city was originally named "Centralia," but was later renamed "Fargo" after Northern Pacific Railway director and Wells Fargo Express Company founder William Fargo (1818–1881). The area started to flourish after the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the city became known as the "Gateway to the West."
During the 1880s, Fargo became the "divorce capital" of the Midwest because of lenient divorce laws.
A major fire struck the city on June 7, 1893, destroying 31 blocks of downtown Fargo, but the city was immediately rebuilt with new buildings made of brick, new streets, and a water system. More than 246 new buildings were built within one year. There were several rumors concerning the cause of the fire.
The North Dakota Agricultural College was founded in 1890 as North Dakota's land-grant university, becoming first accredited by the North Central Association in 1915.