Rapid City is a city located in Pennington County South Dakota. Rapid City has a 2023 population of 79,989. It is also the county seat of Pennington County.Rapid City is currently growing at a rate of 2.47% annually and its population has increased by 7.58% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 74,350 in 2020.
The average household income in Rapid City is $81,183 with a poverty rate of 14.28%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to - per month, and the median house value is -. The median age in Rapid City is 38.1 years, 36.4 years for males, and 39.6 years for females.
Rapid City is a city located in the state of South Dakota. Its location at Rapid Creek is what led to its name.
Rapid City has experienced steady growth throughout its history, although it did see a drop in its population at the time of the 1900 census. By 1920, the city’s population had accumulated over 5,000 people, and this number nearly doubled at the time of the 1930 census. By 1950, the city had over 25,000 residents. By 1990, the population exceeded 54,000. Recent estimates indicate that this growth will only continue, as the current count is up 9% from the last census taken in 2010.
Settlers originally came to what is now Rapid City in the 1870s after gold was discovered. In 1876, Rapid City was founded under the name “Hay Camp” and was promoted by miners as the “Gateway to the Black Hills.” Later that year, the site of the city was laid out around Rapid Creek. Six blocks were designated for a business center, which was used for selling supplies to miners and pioneers. By the 20th century, the city was becoming known as a regional trade center.
The city began to grow following World War I with the construction of highways and local efforts that lured in tourists. Mount Rushmore, a popular tourist destination to this day, was started in 1927 and was later completed in 1941. Throughout this period, the city was keeping the economy afloat through tourism through the Great Depression. However, the tourism industry declined following World War II, although the city still managed to get by due to war-related growth.
The Rapid City Army Air Base (later changed to the Ellsworth Air Force Base) resulted in significant population growth during the 1940s. By the end of the decade, city officials made a plan to expand the city with new schools, a civic center, and paved roads, leading to a construction boom during the 1950s. During the 1960s, growth slowed, but development picked up again in the 1970s after the Black Hills Flood killed hundreds and caused $100 million in damage. This led to significant development including the construction of a park, new homes and businesses, a civic center and Central High School.
In the 1980s, the Sioux people filed a lawsuit against the federal government stating that the Black Hills were stolen. The Supreme Court found in favor of the tribe and offered a monetary settlement, but the Sioux continued to push for the return of land including Rapid City. The dispute is still ongoing.
The city also continued to grow in the 1980s as tourism increased, primarily due to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, one of the most famous rallies in the world. Today, tourism remains a driver of the economy, although the city has also ventured into other economic sectors including technology, scientific research, and medicine.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Rapid City was:
Two or more races
Black or African American
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Average Family Size
Average Household Size
Rate of Home Ownership
Less Than 9th Grade
9th to 12th Grade
High School Graduate
High School Graduation Rate
The highest rate of high school graduation is among islander people with a rate of 100%.
The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 46%.
Other Indo-European Languages
Asian and Pacific Island Languages
95.56% of Rapid City residents speak only English, while 4.44% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 1.49% of the population.
Overall Poverty Rate
Male Poverty Rate
Female Poverty Rate
The race most likely to be in poverty in Rapid City is Native, with 56.89% below the poverty level.
The race least likely to be in poverty in Rapid City is White, with 8.77% below the poverty level.
The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 1.92%. Among those working part-time, it was 19.57%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 22.04%.
Overall Marriage Rate
Male Marriage Rate
Female Marriage Rate
The age group where males are most likely to be married is 45-54, while the female age group most likely to be married is 35-44.
Second Gulf War
First Gulf War
World War II
Less Than 9th Grade
High School Graduate
Bachelors or Greater
Veteran Poverty Rate
Veteran Disability Rate
Labor Force Participation
Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.
Born in Rapid City
101.36% of Rapid City residents were born in the United States, with 59.88% having been born in South Dakota. 1.16% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Asia.