Located along the Big Sioux River in the southeast corner of the state, Sioux Falls (population 154,997) is the largest city in South Dakota. The modern city was founded in 1856, but prehistoric people inhabited the area since about 500 CE. The Lakota and Dakota migrated to the area in the 18th century. Euro-Americans were attracted to this stretch of the river during the intense land speculation of the mid 19th century. The falls' power and beauty made the surrounding area a prime location for a town.
Conflicts with Native Americans ensued, and during the Dakota War of 1862 the town had to be evacuated. The abandoned village was pillaged and burned. Three years later Fort Dakota was established at the present downtown site, and people gradually returned to the city.
Sioux Falls was incorporated in 1875, and the city charter was granted in 1883. By the time South Dakota became a state in 1889, the population of Sioux Falls had risen to 10,167. The city continued to grow, helped along by the opening of a meat packing plant in 1909, a National Guard Station in 1942, and the interstate highway system in the 1960's. Today, Sioux Falls is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the Midwest.
There are many museums of local history in and around the city, including Siouxland Heritage Museums, which provide interactive exhibits, special programs and speakers, and hands-on activities. The first of these is the Old Courthouse Museum, which is housed in the restored 1889 Minnehaha County Courthouse. The second is the Pettigrew Home and Museum. Built in 1889, the museum's exhibits consist mainly of the collections of South Dakota's first senator, R.F. Pettigrew. A world traveler and amateur archaeologist, Pettigrew added a museum onto his home and donated the complex to the city of Sioux Falls.
One of the oldest buildings in downtown Sioux Falls, the original home of the Consolidated Tank Company, was built in 1887. On the verge of being demolished, the building was instead turned into the Museum of Visual Materials in 2007. The space draws many people to the downtown area, and is frequently booked for weddings and other events.
As part of its restoration, the developers of the museum project took advantage of the city's Historic Façade Easement Program, which provides resources to assist in the restoration of historic properties. Through the program, the city purchases the façade of a building, and the property owner or developer devotes the purchase price to the restoration of the structure's original exterior appearance. The Façade Easement Program is designed to stimulate new investment in downtown historic buildings and helps to increase the economic potential of downtown historic buildings.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2010.