The first official record of Kryvyi Rih was found in the List of Post Houses Established Along the Inhulets River from Kremenchuk to Kherson and dates back to 1775.
The city was named Kryvyi Rih (Ukrainian for “curved horn”) because the cape on the confluence of the Inhulets and the Saksahan rivers where the first settlement was founded has the shape of a curved horn. However, another version states the city was named after a cossack whose nickname was Kryvyi Rih and who settled in this picturesque place and founded the first settlement.
In the 18th century, Kryvyi Rih was a cossack settlement within Inhuletska palanka of Zaporizka Sich. Inhuletska palanka was created in 1734 and Kryvyi Rih was mentioned in the list of villages and settlements included in that palanka. In 1775, a post house was established in Kryvyi Rih and five cossacks who were sent to work there lived in temporary dugouts. So, the modern City of Kryvyi Rih started from a small settlement around that post house. In the first third of the 19th century, Kryvyi Rih became a military base. In 1860, it was officially recognized as a town of Kherson Province (now Kherson Oblast) and in 1919 it became a district centre of Katerynoslav Province (now Dnipropetrovsk Oblast).
At the end of the 19th century, iron deposits were found in the town and its suburbs. After confirmation of significant iron deposits, the Saksahanskyi Mine was established in 1881. It was the first mine in the Kryvyi Rih region. In 1882, construction of the Kryvyi Rih railroad started. This railroad played an important role in boosting industrial development in the region.
Metallurgy continued to develop, even during the Civil War in 1919–20. At this time, an administration system in the mining industry was formed. In 1924, construction of a power plant started in Kryvyi Rih. Soviet industrialization significantly boosted the development of a more modern ore mining and processing sector. The town continued to grow, merging together small villages that had sprung up around the mines. This merger together with its complex terrain has meant that industrial and residential areas are not clearly separated in the city.
During the Second World War, the city was occupied by Nazi forces from August 1941 until February 1944. The Kryvorizhstal, the biggest industrial plant in the city, was shut down before occupation. After the war, the city and its economy recovered—first of all, industrially. From 1952 to 1956, the Pivdennyi Ore Mining and Processing Enterprise was built. It was the first facility in the USSR to use low iron content ores from banded iron formations (BIFs). In 1959, the Novo-Kryvorizkyi Ore Mining and Processing Enterprise was launched. In the mid-1970s, the city’s economy was diversified and supplemented with light industry enterprises. Today, Kryvyi Rih is the biggest mining and metallurgy centre of Ukraine.