Located north of downtown Bismarck is the North Dakota State Capitol Complex. This 19-story, Art Deco building is the tallest in the city standing at 242ft. It towers over the central part of the city and can be easily seen from as far as 20 miles away on a clear day. It is by many refered to as the ugliest state capital building in the USA, because of it's tall rectangle shaped structure.
The original North Dakota State Capitol building, built between 1883 and 1884, saw several additions through the early 1900s until it burned to the ground on the night of December 28, 1930. The fire was said to be started by oily rags in a janitor's closet on the top floor of the building. The rags had been used to clean and varnish the legislator's desks in anticipation of the next legislative session. Secretary of State Robert Byrne was able to save the original copy of the state's constitution, but he suffered cuts and burns on his hands while breaking a window to reach the document.
The Capitol grounds serve as the central hub for the state's government departments and the numerous walking trails, parks and monuments gave visitors insights to the state's history. Currently, there are 6 buildings within the grounds. There were plans for massive expansions since 2000 but very few of these plans have been implemented as of 2007.
The building was completed during the 1934 Great Depression, it was built to replace an old capitol building which was burned to the ground 4 years earlier. Within the grounds of the complex are the North Dakota Heritage Center, the North Dakota Governor's Residence, the North Dakota State Library, the Liberty Memorial Building and the State Office Building. The North Dakota State Capitol Building Tower is often lovingly referred to as "The Skyscraper on the Prairie" although it is only 241 feet 8 inches tall. It is popular belief that the Capitol Building Tower is the tallest structure in North Dakota, but that honor belongs to the 2,063 foot tall KVLY TV tower (3 miles west of Blanchard, ND), which also happens to be the tallest manmade structure in the entire World.
The North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum, located on the North Dakota State Capitol grounds in Bismarck, is the state of North Dakota's official history museum. The original building, which was opened in 1981, is operated by the State Historical Society of North Dakota and features permanent and temporary exhibits. The museum features four galleries, two theaters, an outdoor amphitheater, cafe, a kid's play area, and museum store. Collections include millions of artifacts representing more than 12,000 years of human history from across North Dakota. Specimens include a gem, mineral, and rock collection and the state fossil collection containing millions of specimens ranging in scale from microscopic shells to huge dinosaur bones.
To learn more about the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum, please visit statemuseum.nd.gov.
The North Dakota State Library is a government operated library in the U.S. state of North Dakota. Located in the state's capital city of Bismarck on the capital grounds, the library has been in operation since 1907. The State Library specializes in information services to state agencies and to the general public.
The North Dakota Governor's Residence is the home of the Governor of North Dakota. The current residence is located on the southwest corner of the North Dakota State Capitol grounds in Bismarck.