Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the American state of North Dakota (after Fargo and Bismarck) and the county seat of Grand Forks County. According to the 2010 census, the city's population was 52,838, while that of the city and its surrounding metropolitan area was 98,461. Grand Forks, along with its twin city of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, forms the center of the Grand Forks, ND-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is often called Greater Grand Forks or the Grand Cities.
Located on the western banks of the north-flowing Red River of the North, in a flat region known as the Red River Valley, the city is prone to flooding. The Red River Flood of 1997 devastated the city. Originally called Les Grandes Fourches by French fur traders from Canada, who had long worked and lived in the region, steamboat captain Alexander Griggs platted a community after being forced to winter there. The post office was established in 1870, and the town was incorporated on February 22, 1881. The city was named for its location at the fork of the Red River and the Red Lake River.Historically dependent on local agriculture, the city's economy now encompasses higher education, defense, health care, manufacturing, food processing, and scientific research. Grand Forks is served by Grand Forks International Airport and Grand Forks Air Force Base. The city's University of North Dakota is the oldest institution of higher education in the state. The Alerus Center and Ralph Engelstad Arena host athletic and other events, while the Empire Arts Center and Chester Fritz Auditorium are the city's largest cultural venues.