- History of Omaha, Nebraska
The history of
Omaha, Nebraskabegan before the settlement of the city, with speculators from neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowastaking land across the Missouri Riverillegally as early as the 1840s. Before it was legal to claim land in Indian Country, William D. Brownwas operating the Lone Tree Ferryto bring settlers from Council Bluffs to Omaha. A treaty with the Omaha Tribeallowed the creation of the Nebraska Territory, and Omaha Citywas founded on July 4, 1854. With early settlement came claim jumpers and squatters, and the formation of a vigilantelaw group called the Omaha Claim Club, which was one of many claim clubs across the Midwest. During this period many of the city's founding fathers received lots in Scriptown, which was made possible by the actions of the Omaha Claim Club. The club's violent actions led to the U.S. Supreme Courttrial, " Baker v. Morton", which led to the end of the organization.
Surrounded by small towns and cities that competed for business from the
hinterland's farmers, the city suffered a major setback in the Panic of 1857. Despite this, Omaha quickly emerged as the largest city in Nebraska. After losing the Nebraska State Capitolto Lincoln in 1867, many business leaders rallied and created the Jobbers Canyon in downtown Omaha to outfit farmers in Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyomingand further west. Their entrepreneurial success allowed them to build mansions in Kountze Placeand the Old Gold Coastneighborhoods.
With the development of the
Omaha Stockyardsand neighboring packinghouses in the 1870s, several workers' housing areas, including Sheelytown, developed in South Omaha. Its growth happened so quickly that the town was nicknamed the "Magic City". The latter part of the 19th century also saw the formation of several fraternal organizations, including the formation of Knights of Aksarben. City leaders rallied for the creation of the Trans-Mississippi Expositionin 1898. During the Expo, famous madames Anna Wilson and Ada Everleighwere making a good living from the crowds. At the same time, Boss Tom Dennison compounded the city's vices in the notorious Sporting District, with the full support of eight-term mayor "Cowboy" James Dahlman. Many of these early pioneers are buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery. City leaders created Omaha Universityin 1908.
With reform administrations in the 1930s and 40s, the city became a meatpacking powerhouse. Several regional
beerbreweries developed, including Metz, Storz and Krug companies. The city's southern suburb became home to the Strategic Air Commandin the late 1940s; in 1950 the Rosenblatt Stadiumin South Omahabecame home to the College World Series. Labor unrest in the 1930s resulted in organizing of the meatpacking plants by the CIO-FCW, which built an interracial partnership and achieved real gains for the workers for some decades.
After WWII, blacks in Omaha as in other parts of the nation began to press harder for civil rights. Veterans believed they deserved full rights after fighting for the nation. Some organizations had already been formed, but they became more active, leading into the city's Civil Rights movement.
Suburbanization and highway expansion led to
white flightto newer housing and development of middle and upper class areas in West Omahafrom the 1950s through the 1970s. The historically ethnically diverse areas of North and South Omahabecame more concentrated by economics, race and class. These workers suffered dramatic job losses during industrial restructuring that increased rapidly in the 1960s, and poverty became more widespread.
White contact with Native Americans
Omaha's location near the confluence of the
Missouri Riverand Platte Riverhas long made the location a key point of transfer for both people and goods. Since the 1600s, the Pawnee, Otoe, Sioux, and Iowayall variously occupied the land that became Omaha. During the late 1700s and early 1800s when they were the most powerful Indians along the stretch of the Missouri Rivernorth of the Platte, the Omaha nation moved on the western edge of present-day Bellevue, Nebraska.
Prior to European-American establishment of the city, numerous Indian tribes had inhabited the area, including the
Pawnee, Otoe, Sioux, the Missouri and Ioway. They had developed a semi-nomadic lifestyle necessary for survival on the Great Plains. The Pawnee and Otoe tribes had inhabited the region for hundreds of years by the time the Omaha tribe had arrived from the south in the early 1700s. Translated, the word "Omaha" (actually "U-Mo'n-Ho'n") means "Dwellers on the Bluff". [Matthews, J.J. (1961) "The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters". University of Oklahoma Press. Pages 110, 128, 140, 282] Usually the word is translated "against the current" but in those cases without quoting any source.
smallpoxoutbreak, and suffering cultural degradation, disease, the elimination of the buffalo, and continued property loss, in 1856 the Omaha sold the last of their claims and relocated to their present reservationnorth in Thurston County, Nebraska.
July 21, 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expeditionpassed by the riverbanks that would later become the city of Omaha. On July 22 the Corps of Discoveryestablished a camp near present-day Bellevue for five nights, naming it "Camp White Catfish." On the 27th, William Clarkand Reuben Fields investigated mysterious earthen mounds close to where 8th and Douglas Streets and the Heartland of America Parkare today in Downtown Omaha. That night they camped in an area that is Eppley Airfieldtoday. [(2007) [http://www.omahahistory.org/History%20at%20a%20Glance%209-2007.pdf "History at a glance"] , Douglas County Historical Society. Retrieved 2/2/08.] The expedition stopped at a point about 20 miles (30 km) north of present-day Omaha, at which point they first met with the Otoe. They had a council meeting with members of the tribal leadership on the west side of the Missouri River. The first recorded instance of a black person in the Omaha area was "York", an enslaved African American who accompanied William Clark on the Expedition.
Astor Expeditioncame through in 1811. Stephen Longpassed through the Omaha area in 1819 on his Platte River Expedition. A decade later, adventurers and fur traders were frequenting the region, trading at Fort Lisa, built by Manuel Lisain 1806; Fort Atkinson, built in 1819 as a military outpost adjacent to the location of the earlier council meeting; and Cabanne's Trading Post, built by the American Fur Companyin 1822.
In 1825 a fur trader named J.B. Royce built a stockade and trading post on a plateau near the present-day block formed by Dodge Street and Capitol Avenue, Ninth and Tenth Streets. [(2007) [http://www.omahahistory.org/History%20at%20a%20Glance%209-2007.pdf "History at a glance"] , Douglas County Historical Society. Retrieved 2/2/08.] That establishment was abandoned and decayed within the next 20 years. [Gilman, D.C., Peck, H.T. and Colby, F.M. () "The New International Encyclopædia." p 348.]
In the 1840s the
Mormonsbuilt a town called Cutler's Parkin the area before resuming their westward migration on the Mormon Trail. [Federal Writers' Project Staff (1939) "Nebraska: A guide to the Cornhusker state". Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Nebraska. p. 222]
Logan Fontenelleand the Omaha Tribesold the majority of their tribal land, four million acres (16,000 km²), to the United States for less than 22 cents an acre. This allowed the settlement of Nebraska Territoryand the founding of Omaha City. [(n.d.) " [http://omahachamber.org/pdf/multiethnicguide.pdf Multiethnic Guide.] " Greater Omaha Economic Partnership.] That year the formation of the Territory in the Kansas-Nebraska Actwas based on the condition that it remain slave-free.
Pioneer Omaha: 1853 to 1867
:"Further information: "
William Brownoperated the Lone Tree Ferryto shuttle California Gold Rushprospectors and Oregon Trailsettlers across the river between Kanesville, Iowaand the Nebraska Territory. The Lone Tree Ferry eventually became the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry Company. "Omaha City" was organized by the owners of the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company to lure the proposed transcontinental railroad to Council Bluffs. Alfred D. Jones, Omaha City's first postmaster, platted the town site early in 1854, months after the Kansas-Nebraska Actcreated the Nebraska Territory. [Reeves, R. (n.d.) [http://casde.unl.edu/history/counties/douglas/omaha/ Douglas County History] University of Nebraska.] The first black person in Omaha arrived in 1854.
While the city was young, there were no formal
policeor sheriff, or at least one with any significant authority. Compensating for the absence of the law, many early Omaha pioneers formed a claim clubto create and enforce a legal system to their advantage. The Omaha Claim Clubtook authority over many areas of the new city, generally focused on land-related issues. In the 1860s, ten years after the city's formation, early citizens also created the Old Settlers' Associationto record the early history of the settlement.
Aside from Omaha, other early settlements and towns in the area include
Fontenelle's Postfounded in 1806; Fort Lisafounded 1806; Culter's Park, founded 1846; Bellevue, settled in 1804 and founded 1853; East Omaha, founded 185?; and Saratoga, founded 1857. The town of Florence was platted by James C. Mitchell in 1854 and founded in 1855.
The first minister in Omaha was
Moses F. Shinn, a Methodist Episcopal Churchleader from Council Bluffs. [ [http://www.kancoll.org/books/andreas_ne/douglas/douglas-p5.html Douglas County] . "Andreas' history of Nebraska". Retrieved 8/11/07.] Most of Omaha's early pioneers, including Nebraska Territorypoliticians, soldiers from Fort Omahaand the early African-American community, were buried at Prospect Hill Cemeteryin North Omaha. Starting in 1887 Douglas County officials started recording the burials of poorpeople and people without a known identity in Potter's Field. Located in far North Omaha, today Potter's Field is maintained by Forest Lawn Cemetery, which is located nearby. There is speculation that Mormonpioneers were buried there in the 1850s, as well.
The Nebraska State Capitol was moved from Omaha in 1867.
Nebraska Territory Capitol
Late in 1854 Omaha was chosen as the territorial capital for Nebraska. In 1855 during a
land graba group of businessmen formed the Omaha Land Companyand platted Scriptownto reward Nebraska Territorylegislators for their votes for statehood. After " Baker v. Morton" in 1857, this type of land baron-like behavior was made illegal; by that time lots had been developed and Scriptown quickly became part of several neighborhoods, including Gifford Park, Prospect Hill and the Near North Side.
The small city suffered greatly in the economic
Panic of 1857; however, the presence of the capital is credited for keeping the town alive. For several years Omaha enjoyed its status as the capitol of the Nebraska Territory, although not without contention. In January, 1858 a group of representatives illegally moved the Nebraska Territorial Legislatureto Florence following a violent outburst at the State Capitol in Omaha. After repeatedly being dogged out of voting on the removal of the Capitol from Omaha, a skirmish pitted representatives from Nebraska City, Florence, and other communities to convene outside of Omaha. Despite having a majority of members present for the vote to remove the Capitol and all agreeing, the "Florence Legislature" did not succeed in swaying the Nebraska Territorygovernor, and the Capitol remained in Omaha until 1867 when Nebraska gained statehood. [Bristow, D. (1997) "A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tale of 19th Century Omaha." Caxton Press.] When Omaha eventually lost the capital to Lincoln in 1867, the city was by then strong enough to maintain economic growthfor a period of time.
In 1859 a local newspaper reported that a "...bill introduced in [the Omaha City] Council, for the abolition of slavery in this Territory, was called up yesterday, and its further consideration postponed for two weeks. A strong effort will be made among the Republicans to secure its passage; we think, however, it will fail. The farce certainly cannot be enacted if the Democrats do their duty. [A "Daily Nebraskian" newspaper editorial from 1859, as quoted in Bristow, D. (2002) "A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tale of 19th Century Omaha." Caxton Press.]
Council Bluffswas chosen as the eastern terminus of the United States' first transcontinental railroad in 1862 with the passage of the Pacific Railway Act, construction on the railroad began west from Omaha to avoid the difficulties of constructing a bridge across the Missouri River. This ensured that Omaha would become a major transportation center for the entire country in the years to come.
Omaha Cable Tramway Companywas the first and only cable carcompany that operated in Omaha. Founded in 1884, it operated cars until 1894.
1868 to 1899
Frank Rinehart, 1898.] Towns founded during this period include Benson, founded 1887, Chalco, founded ?; Dundee, founded 1880; Elkhorn, founded 1865; Papillion, founded 1870; Ralston, founded 1888; South Omaha, founded 1886, and; Millard, which was founded in 1871.
Omaha's growth was accelerated in the 1880s by the rapid development of the Union Stockyards and the
meat packing industryin South Omaha. There were several breweries established throughout the city during this period. The "Big 4" Omaha breweries included the Storz, Krug, Willow Springs and Metz breweries. [Larsen, L.C. and Cotrell, B.J. (1997) "The Gate City: A History of Omaha." University of Nebraska Press. p 144.] Culture in Omahagrew extensively during this era. With the increase in population, many social, fraternal and advocacy organizations formed in Omaha in the late 1800s. The city's premier newspapers, the " Omaha Bee" and the " Omaha World-Herald", were founded in 1874 and 1885, respectively. Omaha was the location of the 1892 convention that formed the Populist Party, with its aptly titled " Omaha Platform" written by "radical farmers" from throughout the Midwest.
In 1876 the trial of "
Standing Bear v. Crook" was held at Fort Omaha. During the trial General Crooktestified on behalf of Standing Bear, leading the court to recognize American Indians as persons. This was the first time this occurred in a U.S. Federal Court. [Bristow, D. (2002)]
In the 1880s, Omaha was said to be the fastest-growing city in the United States. Thousands of immigrants from central and southern
Europecame to Omaha to work in the Union Stockyards and slaughterhouses of South Omaha. They created Omaha's original ethnic neighborhoods, with names such as Sheelytown, Greek Town, Little Italy, Little Bohemia and Little Poland. Other neighborhoods founded during this period included Bemis Park, Country Club, Dog Hollowand Field Club. The Near North Side also developed greatly during this period, with high concentrations of Jews and Germans, and the first groups of African Americans.
In 1894 the Ladies Axillary of the
Ancient Order of Hibernians, a nationalistic Irish-Catholic fraternal organization, was founded in Omaha. That year the city was also the site of the first African-American fair held in the United States. [Nebraska Writers Project (1938) " [http://www.memoriallibrary.com/NE/Ethnic/Negro/ The Negroes of Nebraska] ", Works Progress Administration.] The following year the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, a civic and philanthropic organization, was founded.
Trans-Mississippi Expositionwas held in North Omaha from June 1to November 1, 1898. The exposition drew more than 2 million visitors. It required the construction of attractions spanning 100 city blocks, including a shipworthy lagoon, bridges and magnificent (though temporary) buildings constructed of plaster and horsehair. The Exposition also featured a number of sideshows, including Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and the Everleigh House. Run by Ada and Minna Everleigh, the house continued operating until 1900, when the two women moved to Chicago.
This period also saw the rise of formal crime in Omaha that presaged the arrival of Tom Dennison. The
Sporting Districtwas an area in downtown Omaha where many of the city's vice activities happened, including gambling, prostitution and grafting. Anna Wilson was an early madam who got her start in Omaha. She eventually opened a 25-room mansion brothelat Ninth and Douglas Streets. She was the longtime romantic partner of Dan Allen, a well-known and successful riverboat gambler in Omaha. The 1900 kidnaping of Edward Cudahy, Jr.in the Old Gold Coastneighborhood caused a national uproar. The perpetrator, Pat Crowe, became a nationally renowned author and lecturer on criminal justice reforms.
1900 to 1941
In the decades before
World War II, Omaha went through a prosperous period marked with rapid development, cultural growth and massive growth of population throughout the city. African Americans were recruited for work by the meatpacking industry and came North in the Great Migrationin highest numbers after 1910. This was also the period of highest immigration by Polish workers. A number of new residents established communities throughout the city, older immigrant populations became further assimilated into the city's culture, and growth was accommodated in neighborhoods built to the north and south of Downtown Omaha.
The city suffered greatly during the
Great Depression. Federal intervention throughout the 1930s was critical for many residents. Work Progress Administration(WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps(CCC) projects employed many men in projects to build infrastructure of parks and community facilities.
Omaha Universitywas founded at the Redick Mansionin the Kountze Placeneighborhood in 1908, moving to their present campus in 1929. Their football team played on the Saratoga Schoolfield until 1952. [(1993) [http://www.unoalumni.org/wfdata/frame2813-74/UNO_History_Chapter_1.pdf A History of UNO] . University of Nebraska at Omaha. Retrieved 5/29/07.]
The Omaha Omahogs was a baseball team started in 1900 as part of the new Western League. Their name changed to the Omaha Indians in 1902. In 1904 the team was fielded as the Omaha Packers, and in 1906 as the Omaha Rourkes. They kept that name until 1921, when the name changed to the Omaha Buffaloes, which stuck until 1928 when it changed to the Omaha Crickets. In 1930 the team changed its name back to the Omaha Packers, and kept that name until 1935, when they moved to Council Bluffs and subsequently folded. A new team called the Omaha Robin Hoods formed in 1936, but moved to
Rock Island, Illinoislate in the year. The team reformed shortly thereafter as the Omaha Cardinals, remaining as such for several years.
Greek Town riot
New immigrants jostled for position with those who had arrived earlier and competition for jobs and place was intense. Many immigrant ethnic groups were intensely territorial. In 1909 a mob of 1,000 ethnic white men from South Omaha almost lynched a Greek man for supposedly being involved with a "white" woman. After their efforts were thwarted, the mob grew and swarmed into Greek Town, where they destroyed homes, businesses and a school; beat Greek immigrants; and destroyed the area by burning it. No person was indicted for any aspect of the riot.
Easter Sunday Tornado
In 1913 a devastating tornado ripped through Omaha, becoming known as the Easter Sunday tornado. It killed more than 100 people, destroyed hundreds of homes, and cut a long swathe through the city, including the heart of North Omaha's Jewish and African-American commercial district, which suffered the most damage.
Omaha Race Riot
Social tensions simmered in the postwar years, as the nation adjusted to returning veterans, competition for jobs, and fears about labor unrest. After a summer of race riots in numerous industrial cities across the country, Omaha was tense, too. The newspaper had inflamed feelings with sensational stories accusing black men of crimes. The black population increased dramatically from 1910-1920 when they were recruited to work by the stockyards. When many black men worked as strikebreakers, resentment by other working-class, ethnic white men rose against them. The "independent political boss" Tom Dennison was later implicated of contributing to racial tensions in an effort to turn out a reform mayor.
The spark of the Omaha Race Riot of 1919 occurred when a black man named Will Brown was arrested and accused of raping a young white woman from South Omaha. A mob of mostly white ethnic young men marched from South Omaha (rallied and led by a henchman of Dennison's) and converged on the Douglas County Courthouse, where the jail was. In the evening the crowd grew larger and set the courthouse on fire, forcing police to turn Brown over to them. They lynched him, hanging him from a lamppost on the south side of the courthouse, then dragging his body through the streets and burning it. The mob was mostly European-born immigrants and ethnic
European Americans. The mayor attempted to intervene and was also hanged; he was saved only by a last-minute rescue by federal agents. The city had to ask for help from Federal troops to quell the disorder, and their arrival was delayed because of a series of communication problems. The commander stationed troops in South Omaha to prevent more mobs from forming, and in North Omaha to protect the blacks.
Max Sparber's play about the events was produced by the Blue Barn Theatreat the Douglas County Courthouse, the site of the riot. It was performed in several other cities as well.
ocial and cultural developments
Job's Daughters International, a
Masonicyouth organization for girls, was founded in Omaha in 1920. Aleph Zadik Aleph, the men's Order of B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, began in 1923 as a college fraternity.
Malcolm Xwas born (as Malcolm Little) at 3446 Pinkney Street in North Omaha. His minister father moved the family to Milwaukee, Wisconsinwhen Malcolm was a year old after threats on their lives from the Ku Klux Klanbecause of his father's activism.
The Nebraska chapter of the
German-American National Alliance(GANA) was founded and led by Valentin J. Peter, the publisher and editor of the German language" Omaha Tribune" in 1907. By the 1920s the organization was working closely with breweries throughout the city to challenge the complete political and social assimilation of German immigrants in Nebraska. During the same period Peter was buying other German language newspapers across the U.S. The GANA folded in the late 1920s; Peter's business, the Interstate Publishing Company] , still operates in Omaha today.
The reign of Omaha political boss Tom Dennison ended in 1933. For more than thirty-five years, he controlled gambling, drinking, prostitution and other criminal interests throughout Omaha, particularly in his seedy
Sporting District. He controlled bootlegging operations in Little Italy through the Prohibition Era. He was closely allied with James Dahlman, Omaha's only eight-term mayor. Dennison was implicated in agitation of groups related to the Omaha Race Riot of 1919.
World War II
In 1945 the
Enola Gayand Bockscarwere two of 536 B-29 Superfortresses manufactured at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Factory (now Offutt Air Force Base) in suburban Bellevue.
That same year a Japanese
fire balloonexploded over Dundee. The incident was part of a large World War IIcampaign by the Japanese military to cause mass chaos in American cities. The story was suppressed by the American military until after the war was over, as no one was hurt in the explosion. [(2004) [http://www.ketv.com/150thbirthday/3528737/detail.html "Omaha Was Bombed During WWII: Keeping Secret Was Some People's Effort To Help War,"] KETV.com. 7/14/07. Retrieved 7/7/07.] [(nd) [http://www.historicomaha.com/dndebomb.jpgDundee Bombing] . HistoricOmaha.com. Retrieved 7/7/07.]
Civil Rights Movement
Civil rights activismin Omaha began in 1912 with the formation of a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It continued through the coming years under the influence of local leaders Whitney Young, George Wells Parkerand Harry Haywood. Other organizations formed such as the Citizens Civic Committee for Civil Liberties (4CL) and the DePorres Clubat Creighton Universityin the 1940s. Mainstream organizations including the Urban League of Nebraska also supported the movement, as did the CIO union in the meatpacking plants. Their successes led to the end of redliningand discriminatory neighborhood covenants, as well as the implementation of a school integration plan. In the late 1960s, the student-led Black Association for Nationalism Through Unity(BANTU) adopted a more militant posture and got into confrontations with police following the shooting of a youth in the housing project.
1950 to 1999
In 1950, the
NCAAmoved the College World Series(CWS) to Rosenblatt Stadium, (then known as Omaha Municipal Stadium). Started in 1947, the tournament was held at Kalamazoo, Michiganin 1947 and 1948, and Wichita, Kansasin 1949. Since 1950 the series has been held annually at the Rosenblatt, despite bids from several cities to move the CWS to another venue.
More than 6,000,000 fans have attended CWS games in Omaha. The City of Omaha has regularly expanded and renovated the stadium to accommodate fans, teams, and media covering the event.
ESPNtelevised every game of the event from 1980 through 1987. ESPN started coverage again when the championship series went to a best-of-3 format in 2003. From 1988 through 2002, CBStelevised the championship game: a winner-take-all single game.
In 1955 the Omaha Cardinals joined the AAA American Association, and thrived until the late 1950s. That team folded in 1959. In 1961-62 the
Omaha Dodgerswere the farm team for the L.A. Dodgers. After the city went six years without a professional team, the Omaha Royalsstarted in 1969. They have continued since.
By the 1960s, the Omaha Stockyards had become the world's largest livestock processing center. They surpassed Chicago's
Union Stock Yardsin the late 1950s. Organized labor's hard won gains came undone as the industry restructured in the 1980s and 1990s. Improved truck and boxcar refrigeration capabilities encouraged the slaughtering process to move closer to feedlots. Plants were moved to rural areas and hired non-union labor. All centralized stockyard activity declined and the Omaha Stockyards were closed in 1999. New generations of immigrants are employed in meatpacking; now they are mostly Hispanic from Mexico, and Central and South America.
Weather was severe in 1975. In January, the city was paralyzed by a devastating
blizzardthat dumped several feet of snow on the city. In May the city was hit by a tornado. The Omaha Tornado of 1975was a F4 tornadothat ripped through neighborhoods along 72nd Street on May 6, 1975, killing 3 and injuring 133. In terms of damage, it was the most costly tornado in American history to that date, with damage estimates between $250 million and $500 million.
In 1988 Omaha demolished a downtown district of brick warehouses called "
Jobbers Canyon", listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The delisting and demolition of Jobbers Canyon made way for the campus headquarters of ConAgra Foodsand the city's Heartland of America Park. The loss of the buildings also galvanized citizens to pay more attention to the historic fabric of the city.
2000 to present
August 20, 2001, Nebraska Methodist Health Systems demolished the Indian Hills Theater, a "super- Cinerama" movie theatercontaining the largest indoor screen of its type in the world. The location of the Indian Hills Theater now serves as a parking lot.
The downtown area has experienced a resurgence in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with several billion dollars of new construction. The new developments include the
Qwest Center Omahaarena/convention center complex, the Holland Performing Arts Center, the Gallup University campus, The " River City Star" riverboat landing, National Park ServiceMidwest Region headquarters, new high-riseheadquarters towers for First National Bank of Omaha and Union Pacific Railroadand hundreds of condominiumunits. The First National Bank of Omaha tower is the tallest building between Denver and Minneapolis, surpassing its rival tallest in Kansas City by one foot.
City historic landmarks
Omaha has designated numerous historic structures and sites as city landmarks, including some that date from before the city's founding. Some sites are also recognized as of national importance and listed on the
National Register of Historic Places. The site of Fort Lisaand Cabanne's Trading Post, both located in the city's far northside, were first occupied in the early 1800s. Landmarks from the mid-1800s include Culter's Park, or "Winter Quarters" located in Florence, and Fontenelle's Postlocated south of the city. Downtown has historical plaques marking the first building in Omaha and the first burial. The city has designated numerous landmarks in North Omaha, including the former town of Saratoga. South Omaha, Dundee and Benson also have numerous historical landmarks. Kountze Park was the site of the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition.
Fates of historic sites
The birthplace of Malcolm X, located in
North Omaha, was torn down in 1965. (He grew up elsewhere.) The Old Post Office was built in 1898 and destroyed in 1966. The demolitions of this building and the Old City Hall were highly controversial because of the historical significance of the buildings. They catalyzed the landmarks preservation movement in the city.
Jobber's Canyon, also located downtown, was a large industrial and warehouse area comprising 24 buildings. In 1989 another controversial demolition occurred when the owners took all 24 buildings down. This represented the loss of the largest nationally registered
historic districtto date. The Hotel Fontenellewas an upscale hotel downtown that was built in 1913. After holding it vacant for almost twenty years, owners tore the building down in 1983.
Metz Brewerybrewery was among the first in the Nebraska Territory, opening in 1856. Its facility lasted in Downtown Omahauntil 1920, when Prohibition forced the company to fold. Willow Springs Distilling Companybegan brewing in the 1860s and built a major facility near Downtown Omaha in the 1880s. That building was demolished in the 1970s. The company that became the Storz Brewerywas founded in Omaha in 1863. Storz built a major brewery along 16th Street in East Omahawith 15 buildings. The majority of them were demolished by the 1990s, with only a few standing still today. In 1894 the Krug Breweryin South Omaha built a brewery that was bought by Falstaff. It was completely demolished by 1996. Frederick Krug, the founder of the brewery, started Krug Park in Benson to advertise and sell his label. In 1930 the worst roller coasteraccident in American history up to that point occurred at Krug Park, and 10 years later the park closed.
In 1938 the federal government built the
Logan Fontenelle Housing Projectto aid low-incomeworking families. Job losses and demographic changes turned them into centers of families' needing welfare. Years of neglect added to problems. With changes in ideas about public housing, the city took down the buildings in 1995. They are redeveloping the area with mixed-income housing and a variety of supporting uses.
The Omaha Stockyards were established in 1883, becoming the world's largest
stockyardsby the late 1950s and together with meatpacking, employing half the city's workers. Soon after, the industry started restructuring and shifting work to rural areas. Huge job losses resulted in the city. After decades of decline, the stockyards were finally closed in 1999. All structures were demolished except for the Livestock Exchange Building. Its significance was recognized when it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city redeveloped the building in a complex public-private partnership for mixed use, with more than 100 apartments, community and commercial space. The area has become the site of a new campus for the community college. It will also be redeveloped for other commercial, medical and light industrial uses.
Ak-Sar-Ben horse racingtrack was built in 1920, and the arena was constructed in 1929. Horse racing ended there in 1995. Everything on the site, including buildings and the grandstands, was demolished by 2005.
The most recent loss of a significant historic building was the
Indian Hills Theater, demolished in 2001. Built in 1962, the theater featured the largest Cineramascreen in the United States. It was replaced with a parking lot for a local hospital, a way for the owner to hold the land for future development.
Historic neighborhoods of Omaha
List of Registered Historic Places in Nebraska#Douglas County
Founding figures of Omaha, Nebraska
History of North Omaha, Nebraska
Timeline of North Omaha, Nebraska history
Notable natives of Omaha, Nebraska
Timeline of Racial Tension in Omaha, Nebraska
Civil Rights Movement in Omaha, Nebraska
Racial Tension in Omaha, Nebraska
Douglas County Historical Society
* [http://www.helloomaha.com/Photos_People.Cfm Historic photos]
* [http://www.omahapubliclibrary.org/earlyomaha/photogallery1.html Early Omaha photos]
* " [http://www.kancoll.org/books/andreas_ne/douglas/douglas-p1a.html Andreas' History of Nebraska] "
* [http://www.omahahistory.org/ "Douglas County Historical Society"]
* " [http://www.webroots.org/library/usahist/ehoone00.html Early History of Omaha] " by former mayor Alfred Sorenson.
* [http://www.omahapubliclibrary.org/earlyomaha "Early Omaha: Gateway to the West"] by the Omaha Public Library.
* [http://www.nebraskahistory.org/fordcenter/ Ford Conservation Center] of the Nebraska State Historical Society.
* [http://www.historicflorence.org/ Historic Florence Society] website.
* [http://www.memoriallibrary.com/NE/Douglas Mardos Memorial Library] featuring Douglas County history.
* [http://theoldentimes.com/old_news_ne.html Old Nebraska News] .
* [http://www.ops.org/ooe/index.htm "Project OMAHA"] at Omaha South High School.
* [http://lewisandclarktrail.com/section1/necities/Omaha/sarpymuseum.htm Sarpy County Historical Museum] website.
* [http://nebraskahistory.org/ Nebraska State Historical Society] website.
* [http://www.usastatesdates.com/nebraska.htm "USA StatesDates"] - Important dates in Nebraska history.
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Greeks in Omaha, Nebraska — The community of Greeks in Omaha, Nebraska has a history that extends back to the 1880s. After they originally moved to the city following work with the railroads, the community quickly grew and founded a substantial neighborhood in South Omaha… … Wikipedia
Neighborhoods of Omaha, Nebraska — The neighborhoods of Omaha are a diverse collection of community areas and specific enclaves. They are spread throughout the Omaha metro area, and are all on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River. Contents 1 History 2 Former towns … Wikipedia
Education in Omaha, Nebraska — is provided by many private and public institutions. The first high school graduates in the Omaha area came from Brownell Talbot School, which was founded in the town of Saratoga in 1863. [(1993). [http://www.btaquatics.org/B T%20History.htm From … Wikipedia
Culture of Omaha, Nebraska — The Garden of the Senses Fountain at Omaha s Henry Doorly Zoo. The culture of Omaha, Nebraska has been partially defined by music and college sports, as well as local cuisine and community theatre. The city has a long history of improving and… … Wikipedia
Germans in Omaha, Nebraska — Germans in Omaha immigrated to the city in Nebraska from its earliest days of founding in 1854, in the years after the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. They continued to immigrate to Omaha in large numbers later in the 19th century, when … Wikipedia
Irish in Omaha, Nebraska — The Irish in Omaha, Nebraska have constituted a major ethnic group throughout the history of the city, and continue to serve as important religious and political leaders. They compose a large percentage of the local population.In 2000 62,349 of… … Wikipedia
Czechs in Omaha, Nebraska — Part of a series on Ethnicity in Omaha African Americans Czechs Danes Germans Greeks Irish Italians … Wikipedia