Billings is the largest city in the U.S. state of Montana, and is the principal city of the Billings Metropolitan Area, the largest metropolitan area in over 500 miles (800 km). With a trade area of over half a million people it is the largest metropolitan area between Denver and Calgary and between Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Spokane, Washington.
Billings is located in the south-central portion of the state and is the county seat of Yellowstone County, 2010 population of 147,972. The 2010 Census put the Billings population at 104,170, the only city in Montana to surpass 100,000 people. The city is experiencing rapid growth and a strong economy; it has had and is continuing to have the largest growth of any city in Montana. Billings has avoided the economic downturn that hit most of the nation as well as avoiding the housing bust. With the Bakken oil play in eastern Montana and western North Dakota, the largest oil discovery in U.S. history, as well as the Heath shale oil play just north of Billings, the city's already rapid growth rate is expected to escalate.
Billings was nicknamed the Magic City because of its growth from its founding as a railroad town in 1882. The city is named for Frederick H. Billings, a former president of the Northern Pacific Railroad. With one of the largest trade areas in the United States, Billings is the trade and distribution center for most of Montana, Northern Wyoming and western portions of North Dakota and South Dakota. Billings is also the retail destination for much of the same area. With more hotel accommodations than any area within a five state region, the city hosts a variety of conventions, concerts, sporting events and other rallies.