Billings is a city located in Yellowstone County, Montana. With a 2020 population of 109,868, it is the largest city in Montana and the 282nd largest city in the United States. Billings is currently growing at a rate of 0.14% annually and its population has increased by 5.47% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 104,170 in 2010. Spanning over 45 miles, Billings has a population density of 2,463 people per square mile.
The average household income in Billings is $76,750 with a poverty rate of 10.24%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $861 per month, and the median house value is $212,700. The median age in Billings is 36.8 years, 35.4 years for males, and 38.6 years for females. For every 100 females there are 95.4 males.
It is the only city in the state with a population of more than 100,000, and it continues to show steady growth.
Billings has experienced rapid growth in its population since its founding. The city’s population was just 145 in 1870 and had jumped to over 3,000 in 1900. At the time of 1910 census, the population exceeded 10,000 people. The city surpassed 50,000 residents at the 1960 census. Growth has continued, with the city reaching more than 100,000 people in 2010. Recent estimates show that the population has grown almost 6% since the last census, indicating that Billings still has a lot of population growth in its future.
Billings has a very long history, with the discovery of artifacts showing that the region has been inhabited since at least 2600 BCE. The first known inhabitants were the Crow Indians, who occupied the area beginning in 1700.
The region was originally known as Clark’s Fork Bottom, which served as a hub for hauling freight. In 1877, settlers formed the town of Coulson, the first town in the Yellowstone Valley. A sawmill, general store, and trading post were opened when the town was established. It began to grow, and so other buildings and tents were erected to keep up with the population.
In its earliest occupied years, Coulson was a Wild West Town - their Sheriff's nickname was "Liver-Eating" Johnson and many arguments ended in gunfire and burial in Boothill Cemetery. The residents hoped the land would be near enough to the tracts of land that the railroad would help them grow as quickly as they intended to. The railroad came to the region shortly after and residents in Coulson believed that it would bring significant growth. However, the railroad company decided to create a new town nearby named Billings. The residents of Coulson eventually moved to the town of Billings, leaving Coulson to become part of Billings in the 1930s eventually. The park known as Coulson Park marks the original area of settlement.
The city of Billings was founded officially in 1882. The town only had three buildings but soon had over 2,000 less than one year after it was established. In the early 20th century, Billings’ population grew to over 10,000. The city was one of the fastest-growing in the U.S - and even earned the nickname - "Magic City" - due to its incredible growth rate. Oil fields were discovered in the state, followed by natural gas and coal reserves made the city a center of energy and boosted the economy.
When World War II ended, the city diversified by becoming the center of finance, medicine, and culture. The population continued to grow. Through the 1970s, Billings continued to be a leader in the energy sector. The city also saw significant growth through its downtown area during this time and through the 1980s, including the construction of Sage Tower and Granite Tower.
Billings continued to expand with the addition of shopping centers, malls, business parks, and hotels through the 1990s. This growth has continued through the 21st century as more business parks are open and the downtown area has been updated with new buildings, a transit center, and parking garages. The economy has also remained strong, making Billings a desirable city for many residents.