Omaha's pioneer period began in 1854, when the city was founded by speculators from neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowa
. The city was founded along the Missouri River, and a crossing called Lone Tree Ferry
earned the city its nickname, the "Gateway to the West". Omaha introduced this new West to the world in 1898, when it played host to the World's Fair, dubbed the Trans-Mississippi Exposition
. During the 19th century, Omaha's central location in the United States spurred the city to become an important national transportation hub
. Throughout the rest of the 19th century, the transportation and jobbing
sectors were important in the city, along with its railroads
. In the 20th century, the Omaha Stockyards
, once the world's largest, and its meatpacking
plants gained international prominence.
Omaha is also the home to five Fortune 1000
headquarters: Green Plains Renewable Energy
, TD Ameritrade
, Valmont Industries
, Werner Enterprises
, and West Corporation
. Also headquartered in Omaha are the following: First National Bank of Omaha, the largest privately held bank in the United States; three of the nation's ten largest architecture/engineering firms (DLR Group
, HDR, Inc.
, and Leo A Daly
and the Gallup Organization
, of Gallup Poll
fame, and its riverfront Gallup University.
Notable modern Omaha inventions include the following: the "pink hair curler" created at Omaha's Tip Top Products; Butter Brickle
Ice Cream, and the Reuben sandwich
, conceived by a chef at the then–Blackstone Hotel
on 36th and Farnam Streets;
cake mix, developed by Duncan Hines
, then a division of Omaha's Nebraska Consolidated Mills, the forerunner to today's ConAgra Foods; center-pivot irrigation by the Omaha company now known as Valmont Corporation; Raisin Bran
, developed by Omaha's Skinner Macaroni Co.; the first ski lift
in the U.S.
, in 1936, by Omaha's Union Pacific
the Top 40
radio format, pioneered by Todd Storz
, scion of Omaha's Storz Brewing Co
. and head of Storz Broadcasting, and first used in the U.S. at Omaha's KOWH Radio
; and the TV dinner
, developed by Omaha's Carl A. Swanson
Various Native American tribes
had lived in the land that became Omaha, including since the 17th century, the Omaha
and Ponca, Dhegian-Siouan-language people who had originated in the lower Ohio River valley and migrated west by the early 17th century; Pawnee
, and Ioway
. The word Omaha
) means "Dwellers on the bluff".
In 1804 the Lewis and Clark Expedition
passed the riverbanks where the city of Omaha would be built. Between July 30 and August 3, 1804, members of the expedition, including Meriwether Lewis
and William Clark
, met with Oto and Missouria tribal leaders at the Council Bluff
at a point about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of present-day Omaha.
Immediately south of that area, Americans built several fur trading outposts in succeeding years, including Fort Lisa
in 1812; Fort Atkinson
in 1819; Cabanné's Trading Post
, built in 1822, and Fontenelle's Post
in 1823, in what became Bellevue
There was fierce competition among fur traders until John Jacob Astor created the monopoly of the American Fur Company
. The Mormons
built a town called Cutler's Park
in the area in 1846.
While it was temporary, the settlement provided the basis for further development.
Through 26 separate treaties with the United States federal government, Native American tribes in Nebraska
gradually ceded the lands that now make up the state. The treaty and cession involving the Omaha area occurred in 1854 when the Omaha Tribe
ceded most of east-central Nebraska. Logan Fontenelle
, an interpreter for the Omaha and signatory to the 1854 treaty, played an essential role in those proceedings.
, $1 City of Omaha 1857 uniface banknote. The note is signed by Jesse Lowe
, in his function as first Mayor of Omaha City. It was issued as scrip in 1857 to help fund the erection of the Territorial capitol building.
Before it was legal to claim land in Indian Country
, William D. Brown
operated the Lone Tree Ferry
that brought settlers from Council Bluffs, Iowa to the area that became Omaha. Brown is generally credited as having the first vision for a city where Omaha now sits.
The passage of the Kansas–Nebraska Act
in 1854 was presaged by the staking out of claims around the area to become Omaha by residents from neighboring Council Bluffs. On July 4, 1854, the city was informally established at a picnic on Capital Hill, current site of Omaha Central High School
Soon after, the Omaha Claim Club
was formed to provide vigilante
justice for claim jumpers
and others who infringed on the land of many of the city's founding fathers
Some of this land, which now wraps around Downtown Omaha, was later used to entice Nebraska Territorial legislators
to an area called Scriptown
The Territorial capitol was in Omaha, but when Nebraska became a state in 1867, the capital was relocated to Lincoln
, 53 miles (85 km) south-west of Omaha.
The U.S. Supreme Court
later ruled against numerous landowners whose violent actions were condemned in Baker v. Morton
The economy of Omaha
boomed and busted through its early years. In 1858, the Omaha Daily Republican
was founded by the Omaha Printing Company (rebranded Aradius Group, 2016)
, it was Nebraska's first regional newspaper–founded before Nebraska claimed statehood. Omaha was a stopping point for settlers and prospectors heading west, either overland or by the Missouri River. The steamboat Bertrand
sank north of Omaha on its way to the goldfields in 1865. Its massive collection of artifacts is on display at the nearby Desoto National Wildlife Refuge
. The jobbing and wholesaling district
brought new jobs, followed by the railroads
and the stockyards.
Groundbreaking for the First Transcontinental Railroad
in 1863, provided an essential developmental boom for the city.
In 1862, the U.S. Congress
allowed the Union Pacific Railroad
to begin building westward railways;
in January 1866 it commenced construction out of Omaha.
The Union Stockyards
, another important part of the city's development, were founded in South Omaha in 1883.
Within 20 years, Omaha had four of the five major meatpacking
companies in the United States. By the 1950s, half the city's workforce was employed in meatpacking and processing. Meatpacking, jobbing and railroads were responsible for most of the growth in the city from the late 19th century through the early decades of the 20th century.
soon created ethnic enclaves
throughout the city, including Irish in Sheelytown
in South Omaha; Germans in the Near North Side
, joined by the European Jews and black migrants from the South
; Little Italy
and Little Bohemia
in South Omaha.
Beginning in the late 19th century, Omaha's upper class lived in posh enclaves throughout the city, including the south and north
Gold Coast neighborhoods, Bemis Park
, Kountze Place
, Field Club
and throughout Midtown Omaha
. They traveled the city's sprawling park system
designed by renowned landscape architectHorace Cleveland
The Omaha Horse Railway
first carried passengers throughout the city, as did the later Omaha Cable Tramway Company
and several similar companies. In 1888, the Omaha and Council Bluffs Railway and Bridge Company
built the Douglas Street Bridge
, the first pedestrian and wagon bridge between Omaha and Council Bluffs.
With dramatically increasing population in the 20th century, competition and fierce labor struggles led to major civil unrest.
In 1900, Omaha was the center of a national uproar over the kidnapping
of Edward Cudahy, Jr.
, the son of a local meatpacking
Six years later, in 1919, the city was caught up in the Red Summer
riots when thousands of whites marched from South Omaha to the courthouse to lynch a Black worker, Willy Brown, a suspect in an alleged rape of a white woman. The mob burned the Douglas County Courthouse
to get the prisoner, causing more than $1 million damage. They hanged and shot Will Brown, then burned his body.
Troops were called in from Fort Omaha to quell the riot, prevent more crowds gathering in South Omaha, and to protect the Black community in North Omaha.
Musicians created their own world in Omaha, and also joined national bands and groups that toured and appeared in the city.
Following the development of the Glenn L. Martin Company bomber manufacturing plant in Bellevue
at the beginning of World War II, the relocation of the Strategic Air Command
to the Omaha suburb in 1948 provided a major economic boost to the area.
After surpassing Chicago in meat processing
by the late 1950s, Omaha suffered the loss of 10,000 jobs as both the railroad and meatpacking industries restructured. The city struggled for decades to shift its economy as workers suffered. Poverty became more entrenched among families who remained in North Omaha.
In the 1960s, three major race riots along North 24th Street
destroyed the Near North Side's economic base, with recovery slow for decades.
In 1969, Woodmen Tower
was completed and became Omaha's tallest building and first major skyscraper at 478 feet (146 m), a sign of renewal.
Since the 1970s, Omaha has continued expanding and growing, mostly to available land to the west. West Omaha
has become home to the majority of the city's population. North and South Omaha's populations continue to be centers of new immigrants, with economic and racial diversity. In 1975 a major tornado
, along with a major blizzard
, caused more than $
100 million in damages in 1975 dollars.
The demolition of Jobber's Canyon
in 1989 led to the creation of the ConAgra Foods
Several nearby buildings, including the Nash Block
, have been converted into condominiums. The stockyards were taken down; the only surviving building is the Livestock Exchange Building
, which was converted to multi-use and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A historic preservation
movement in Omaha has led to a number of historic structures and districts being designated Omaha Landmarks
or listed on the National Register of Historic Places
. Much of the push toward preservation came after Omaha gained the notorious designation of having, in 1989, demolished the largest-ever National Register
historic district in the United States, a record that still stands as of 2013. The Jobbers Canyon Historic District
, along the Missouri River, was felled for a new headquarters campus for ConAgra Foods, a company which threatened to relocate if Omaha did not allow them to raze the city's historic district. The Jobber's Canyon warehouses had before then been allowed to deteriorate and were the scene of several fires set by the homeless population that had come to live in the abandoned buildings. At the time, there were no plans in place for revitalizing the buildings.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Omaha also saw major company headquarters leave the city, including Enron
, founded in the city in 1930 and taken to Houston in 1987 by the now-notorious Kenneth Lay
. First Data
Corporation, a large credit-card processor, also was founded in Omaha in 1969; as of 2009, its headquarters are in Atlanta.
, founded in Omaha in 1991, was a technology company that customized computer systems for large businesses, and was on the Fortune 500 list from 1997 until 2000, when it filed for bankruptcy. Northwestern Bell
, the Bell System
affiliate for Northwestern states, had its headquarters in Omaha from its founding in 1896 until it moved to Denver in 1991 as US West
. Level 3 Communications
, a large Tier 1 network
provider, was founded in Omaha in 1985 as Kiewit Diversified Group, a division of Kiewit Corporation
, a Fortune 500 construction and mining company still headquartered in Omaha; Level 3 moved to Denver in 1998. World Com
was founded by a merger with Omaha's MFS Communications, started as Metropolitan Fiber Systems
in 1993. MFS, backed by Kiewit Corporation
CEO Walter Scott and Warren Buffett
, purchased UUNET
, one of the largest Internet backbones in the world, for $2 billion in 1996. The now-infamous Bernie Ebbers
purchased the much larger MFS for $14.3 billion in 1997 under his World Com
. He moved headquarters of the merged company from Omaha to Mississippi.
Around the start of the 21st century, several new downtown skyscrapers and cultural institutions were built. One First National Center
was completed in 2002, surpassing the Woodmen Tower
as the tallest building in Omaha as well as in the state at 634 feet (193 m). The creation of the city's new North Downtown
included the construction of the CenturyLink Center
and the Slowdown
development at North 14th and Webster Streets.
Construction of the new TD Ameritrade Park
began in 2009 and was completed in 2011, also in the North Downtown area, near the CenturyLink Center
. TD Ameritrade Park is now the home of the College World Series, an event tourists flock to each year.
There have also been several developments along the Missouri River waterfront in downtown. The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
was opened to foot and bicycle traffic on September 28, 2008.
Started in 2003, RiverFront Place Condos
first phase was completed in 2006 and is fully occupied and the second phase was opened in 2011. The development along Omaha's riverfront is attributed with prompting the City of Council Bluffs to move their own riverfront development time line forward.
Omaha is located at 41°15′N 96°0′W
. According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of 130.58 square miles (338.20 km2
), of which 127.09 square miles (329.16 km2
) is land and 3.49 square miles (9.04 km2
) is water.
Situated in the Midwestern United States on the bank of the Missouri River in eastern Nebraska, much of Omaha is built in the Missouri River Valley
. Other significant bodies of water in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area include Lake Manawa, Papillion Creek
, Carter Lake
, Platte River and the Glenn Cunningham Lake
. The city's land has been altered considerably with substantial land grading
throughout Downtown Omaha and scattered across the city. East Omaha
sits on a flood plain
west of the Missouri River. The area is the location of Carter Lake, an oxbow lake
. The lake was once the site of East Omaha Island and Florence Lake, which dried up in the 1920s.
The Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area consists of eight counties; five in Nebraska and three in Iowa.
The metropolitan area now includes Harrison
, and Mills
Counties in Iowa and Washington
, Douglas, Sarpy
, and Saunders
Counties in Nebraska. This area was formerly referred to only as the Omaha Metropolitan Statistical Area and consisted of only five counties: Pottawattamie in Iowa, and Washington, Douglas, Cass, and Sarpy in Nebraska.
The Omaha-Council Bluffs combined statistical area
comprises the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan statistical area
and the Fremont Micropolitan statistical area
; the CSA has a population of 858,720 (2005 Census Bureau estimate). Omaha ranks as the 42nd-largest city in the United States, and is the core city of its 60th-largest metropolitan area.
There are no consolidated city-counties
in the area; the City of Omaha
studied the possibility extensively through 2003 and concluded, "The City of Omaha and Douglas County should merge into a municipal county, work to commence immediately, and that functional consolidations begin immediately in as many departments as possible, including but not limited to parks, fleet
management, facilities management, local planning
, purchasing and personnel."
Geographically, Omaha is considered as being in the "Heartland" of the United States. Important environmental impacts on the natural habitat in the area include the spread of invasive plant
species, restoring prairies
and bur oak savanna
habitats, and managing the whitetail deer
Omaha is home to several hospitals, mostly along Dodge St (US6). Being the county seat, it is also the location of the county courthouse.
Downtown - lime, Midtown - blue-gray, North - red, South - pink, West - lavender
View from above West Omaha
Omaha is generally divided into six geographic areas: Downtown, Midtown, North Omaha, South Omaha, West Omaha, and East Omaha. West Omaha includes the Miracle Hills, Boys Town
, Regency, and Gateway areas.
The city has a wide range of historical and new neighborhoods and suburbs that reflect its socioeconomic
diversity. Early neighborhood development happened in ethnic enclaves,
including Little Italy
, Little Bohemia
, Little Mexico and Greek Town
According to U.S. Census data, five European ethnic enclaves existed in Omaha in 1880, expanding to nine in 1900.
Around the start of the 20th century. the City of Omaha annexed several surrounding communities, including Florence
. At the same time, the city annexed all of South Omaha, including the Dahlman
and Burlington Road neighborhoods
. From its first annexation in 1857 (of East Omaha) to its recent and controversial annexation of Elkhorn
, Omaha has continually had an eye towards growth.
Starting in the 1950s, development of highways and new housing led to the movement of the middle class to suburbs
in West Omaha. Some of the movement was designated as white flight
from racial unrest in the 1960s.
Newer and poorer migrants lived in older housing close to downtown; those residents who were more established moved west into newer housing. Some suburbs are gated communities
or have become edge cities
Recently, Omahans have made strides to revitalize the downtown and Midtown areas with the redevelopment of the Old Market, Turner Park, Gifford Park, and the designation of the Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District
The Joslyn Castle
is home to a nonprofit environmental organization.
Omaha, due to its latitude of 41.26˚ N and location far from moderating bodies of water or mountain ranges, displays a hot-summer humid continental climate
July averages 76.7 °F (24.8 °C), with average relative humidity around 70% which then leads to relatively frequent thunderstorms. Temperatures reach 90 °F (32 °C) on 29 days and 100 °F (38 °C) on 1.7 days annually. The January daily average is 23.5 °F (−4.7 °C), with lows reaching 0 °F (−18 °C) on 11 days annually. The lowest temperature recorded in the city was −32 °F (−36 °C) on January 5, 1884,
and the highest 114 °F (46 °C) on July 25, 1936
Average yearly precipitation is 30.6 inches (777 mm), falling mostly in the warmer months. Snow is the most common precipitation in winter, with average seasonal snowfall being 28.7 inches (73 cm).
Map of racial distribution in Omaha, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or Other (yellow)
As of the census
of 2010, there were 408,958 people, 162,627 households, and 96,477 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,217.9 inhabitants per square mile (1,242.4/km2
). There were 177,518 housing units at an average density of 1,396.8 per square mile (539.3/km2
). The city's racial makeup was 73.1% White
, 13.7% African American
, 0.8% Native American
, 2.4% Asian
, 0.1% Pacific Islander
, 6.9% from other races
, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanic
people of any race were 13.1% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites
were 68.0% of the population.
There were 162,627 households, of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.7% were non-families. 32.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.3% had someone living alone who was at least 65 years old. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.14.
The median age in the city was 33.5 years. 25.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 11.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.9% were from 25 to 44; 24.4% were from 45 to 64; and 11.4% were 65 years of age or older. The city's gender makeup was 49.2% male and 50.8% female.
The median household income (in 2017 dollars) from 2013 to 2017 was $53,789.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 390,007 people, 156,738 households, and 94,983 families residing within city limits. The population density was 3,370.7 people per square mile (1,301.5/km2
). There were 165,731 housing units at an average density of 1,432.4 per square mile (553.1/km2
). The city's racial makeup was 78.4% White
, 13.3% African American
, 0.7% Native American
, 1.7% Asian
, 0.1% Pacific Islander
, 3.9% from other races
, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 7.5% of the population.
The city's median household income was $40,006, and the median family income was $50,821. Males had a median income of $34,301 versus $26,652 for females. The city's per capita income
was $21,756. About 11.3% of the population and 7.8% of families were below the poverty line
, including 15.6% of those under the age of 18 and 7.4% of those 65 and older.
View of 24th
and Lake Streets in North Omaha, site of many notable events in Omaha's African Americans
were the first residents of the Omaha area. The city of Omaha was established by white settlers from neighboring Council Bluffs who arrived from the Northeast United States
a few years earlier. While much of the early population was of Yankee
stock, over the next 100 years numerous ethnic groups
moved to the city. In 1910, the Census Bureau reported Omaha's population as 96.4% White and 3.6% Black. Irish
immigrants in Omaha originally moved to an area in present-day North Omaha called "Gophertown", as they lived in dug-out sod houses
That population was followed by Polish immigrants
in the Sheelytown
neighborhood, and many immigrants were recruited for jobs in South Omaha's stockyards
and meatpacking industry.
The German community
in Omaha was largely responsible for founding its once-thriving beer industry,
including the Metz
and the Storz
In the early 20th century, Jewish
immigrants set up many businesses along the North 24th Street
commercial area. It suffered with the loss of industrial jobs in the 1960s and later, the shifting of population west of the city. The commercial area is now the center of the African-Americans community
, concentrated in North Omaha.
The African American community has maintained its social and religious base, while it is experiencing an economic revitalization.
originally immigrated to Omaha to work in the rail yards. Today they account for most of South Omaha's Hispanic population and many have taken jobs in meat processing
Other large early ethnic populations in Omaha included Danes
, and Swedes
A growing number of African immigrants have made their homes in Omaha in the last twenty years.[when?]
There are approximately 8,500 Sudanese
living in Omaha, including the largest population of Sudanese refugees
in the United States. Most have immigrated since 1995 because of warfare in Sudan
. They represent ten ethnic groups, including the Nuer
. Most Sudanese people in Omaha speak the Nuer language
Other Africans have immigrated to Omaha as well, with one-third from Nigeria
, and large populations from Kenya
With the expansion of railroad and industrial jobs in meatpacking, Omaha attracted many immigrants and migrants. As the major city in Nebraska, it has historically been more racially and ethnically diverse than the rest of the state.
At times rapid population change, overcrowded housing and job competition have aroused racial and ethnic tensions
. Around the start of the 20th century, violence towards new immigrants in Omaha often erupted out of suspicion and fear.
In 1909, anti-Greek sentiment flared after increased Greek immigration, and worsened their tendency to become strikebreakers
. The killing of a policeman of Irish descent enraged the Irish community; an angry mob violently stormed the Greek neighborhood in Omaha in what would become known as the Greek Town Riot
That mob violence forced the Greek
immigrant population to flee from the city.
By 1910, 53.7% of Omaha's residents and 64.2% of South Omaha's residents were foreign born or had at least one parent born outside of America.
Six years after the Greek Town Riot, in 1915, a mob killed Juan Gonzalez, a Mexican immigrant, near Scribner
, a town in the Greater Omaha metropolitan area. The event occurred after an Omaha Police Department
officer investigated a criminal operation that sold goods stolen from the nearby railroad yards. Racial profiling
targeted Gonzalez as the culprit. After escaping the city, he was trapped along the Elkhorn River
, where the mob, including several policemen from Omaha, shot him more than twenty times. It was discovered Gonzalez was unarmed, and he had a reliable alibi for the time of the murder. No one was ever indicted for his killing.
In the fall of 1919, following Red Summer
, postwar social and economic tensions, the earlier hiring of African Americans as strikebreakers, and job uncertainty contributed to a mob from South Omaha lynching Willy Brown
and the ensuing Omaha Race Riot
. Trying to defend Brown, the city's mayor, Edward Parsons Smith
, was lynched also, surviving only after a quick rescue.
Like other industrial cities in the U.S., Omaha suffered severe job losses in the 1950s, more than 10,000 in all, as the railroad and meatpacking industries restructured. Stockyards and packing plants were located closer to ranches, and union achievements were lost as wages declined in surviving jobs.
Many workers left the area if they could get to other jobs. Poverty deepened in areas of the city whose residents depended on those jobs, specifically North and South Omaha. At the same time, with reduced revenues, the city had less financial ability to respond to longstanding problems.
Whites in Omaha have followed the white flight
to West Omaha.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, gang violence and incidents between the Omaha Police
and Black residents undermined relations between groups in North and South Omaha.
Latinos in Omaha
According to USA Today
, Omaha ranks eighth among the nation's 50 largest cities in both per-capita billionaires and Fortune 500 companies.
With diversification in several industries, including banking
, telecommunications, architecture/construction, and transportation
, Omaha's economy has grown dramatically since the early 1990s. In 2001 Newsweek
identified Omaha as one of the top 10 high-tech havens in the nation.
Six national fiber optic networks converge in Omaha.
Omaha is the headquarters of several other major corporations, including the Gallup Organization
, TD Ameritrade
, Werner Enterprises
, First National Bank
and First Comp Insurance. Many other large national firms have major operations or operational headquarters in Omaha, including Bank of the West
, First Data
, Pacific Life
and Conagra Brands
. The city is also home to three of the 30 largest architecture firms in the United States, including HDR, Inc.
, DLR Group, Inc.
, and Leo A Daly
In 2013, Forbes'
named Omaha among its list of the Best Places for Business and Careers.
According to the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, the largest regional employers are:
Office buildings in downtown Omaha
Joslyn Art Museum
The city is home to the Omaha Community Playhouse
, the largest community theater
in the United States.
The Omaha Symphony Orchestra
and its modern Holland Performing Arts Center
the Opera Omaha
at the Orpheum
theater, the Blue Barn Theatre
, American Midwest Ballet
, and The Rose Theater
form the backbone of Omaha's performing arts community
. Opened in 1931, the Joslyn Art Museum
has large art collections.
Since its inception in 1976, Omaha Children's Museum
has been a place where children can challenge themselves, discover how the world works and learn through play. The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
, one of the nation's premier urban artist colonies, was founded in Omaha in 1981,
and the Durham Museum
is accredited with the Smithsonian Institution
for traveling exhibits.
The city is also home to the largest singly funded mural in the nation, "Fertile Ground",
by Meg Saligman
The annual Omaha Blues, Jazz, & Gospel Festival
celebrates local music along with the Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame
Henry Doorly Zoo
Desert Dome at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
The Henry Doorly Zoo
is widely considered one of the premier zoos in the world.
The zoo is home to the world's largest nocturnal exhibit and indoor swamp;
the world's largest indoor rainforest, the world's largest indoor desert,
and the largest geodesic dome
in the world (13 stories tall).
The zoo is Nebraska's number-one paid attendance attraction and has welcomed more than 25 million visitors over the past 40 years.
The Old Market
is a major historic district
in Downtown Omaha listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Today, its warehouses and other buildings house shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and art galleries.
Downtown is also the location of the Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District, which has several art galleries and restaurants. Lauritzen Gardens
features 100 acres (40 ha
) with a variety of landscaping, and the new Kenefick Park
recognizes Union Pacific Railroad's long history in Omaha.
North Omaha has several historical cultural
attractions including the Dreamland Historical Project
, Love's Jazz and Art Center, and the John Beasley Theater.
The annual River City Roundup is celebrated at Fort Omaha, and the neighborhood of Florence
celebrates its history during "Florence Days". Native Omaha Days
is a biennial event celebrating Near North Side heritage.
CHI Health Center
Today, the diverse culture of Omaha
includes a variety of performance venues, museums, and musical heritage, including the historically significant jazz scene in North Omaha and the modern and influential "Omaha Sound
Omaha also has a fledgling hip hop
scene. Long-time bastion Houston Alexander
, a one-time graffiti artist and professional Mixed Martial Arts
competitor, is a local hip-hop radio show host.
Cerone Thompson, known as "Scrybe", has had a number one single on college radio stations across the United States. He has also had several number one hits on the local hip hop station respectively titled, "Lose Control" and "Do What U Do".
Other notable artists include Stylo of Mastered Trax Latino who holds a strong following in South Omaha and Mexico / Latin America.
The Looney Tunes
short Boobs in the Woods
featured Porky Pig
revealing that he had a license to sell hair tonic to bald eagles in Omaha, Nebraska.
Built in 1962, Omaha's Cinerama
was called Indian Hills Theater
. Its demolition in 2001 by the Nebraska Methodist Health System
was unpopular, with objections from local historical and cultural groups and luminaries from around the world.
The Dundee Theatre
is the lone surviving single-screen movie theater in Omaha and still shows films.
A recent development to the Omaha film scene was the addition of Film Streams
's Ruth Sokolof Theater in North Downtown. The two-screen theater is part of the Slowdown
facility. It features new American independents, foreign films, documentaries, classics, themed series, and director retrospectives. There are many new theaters opening in Omaha. In addition to the five Douglas Theatres
venues in Omaha, two more are opening, including Midtown Crossing
Theatres, on 32nd and Farnam Streets by the Mutual of Omaha Building
. Westroads Mall
has opened a new multiplex movie theater
with 14 screens, operated by Rave Motion Pictures
Popular young adult novel Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell
(St. Martin's Press, 2013) takes place in Omaha.
The 1935 winner of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing
was named Omaha
, and after traveling the world the horse eventually retired to a farm south of the city. The horse made promotional appearances at Ak-Sar-Ben during the 1950s and following his death in 1959 was buried at the racetrack's Circle of Champions.
Sports and recreation
TD Ameritrade Park Omaha
Sports have been important in Omaha for more than a century, and the city plays host to three minor-league professional sports teams.
Sports teams in Omaha
The Omaha Storm Chasers play at Werner Park
They won seven championships (in 1969, 1970, 1978, 1990, 2011, 2013, and 2014). Omaha is also home to the Omaha Diamond Spirit, a collegiate summer baseball team that plays in the MINK league.
Omaha has a thriving running community and many miles of paved running and biking trails throughout the city and surrounding communities. The Omaha Marathon involves a half-marathon and a 10-kilometer (6.2 mi) race that takes place annually in September.
Omaha also has a history of curling
, including multiple junior national champions.
The city's historic boulevards
were originally designed by Horace Cleveland
in 1889 to work with the parks to create a seamless flow of trees, grass and flowers throughout the city. Florence Boulevard
and Fontenelle Boulevard are among the remnants of this system.
Omaha boasts more than 80 miles (129 km) of trails
They include the American Discovery Trail
, which traverses the entire United States, and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
passes through Omaha as it travels 3,700 miles (5,950 km) westward from Illinois to Oregon. Trails throughout the area are included in comprehensive plans for the city of Omaha, the Omaha metropolitan area, Douglas County, and long-distance coordinated plans between the municipalities of southeast Nebraska.
Government and politics
Omaha has a strong mayor
form of government
, along with a city council elected from seven districts across the city. The mayor
is Jean Stothert
, who was elected in May 2013, and re-elected May 10, 2017. The longest-serving mayor in Omaha's history was "Cowboy" Jim Dahlman
, who served 20 years over eight terms. He was regarded as the "wettest mayor in America" because of the flourishing number of bars in Omaha during his tenure.
Dahlman was a close associate of political boss
During Dahlman's tenure, the city switched from its original strong-mayor form of government to a city commission government
In 1956, the city switched back.
The city clerk
is Elizabeth Butler. The City of Omaha administers twelve departments, including finance, police
, human rights, libraries
The Omaha City Council is the legislative branch and has seven members elected from districts across the city. The council enacts local ordinances
and approves the city budget
. Government priorities and activities are established in a budget ordinance approved annually. The council takes official action through the passage of ordinances and resolutions. Nebraska's constitution grants the option of home rule
to cities with more than 5,000 residents, meaning they may operate under their own charters. Omaha is one of only three cities in Nebraska to use this option, out of 17 eligible.
The City of Omaha is considering consolidating
with Douglas County government.
Although registered Republicans
in the 2nd congressional district
, which includes Omaha, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama
opened three campaign offices in the city with 15 staff members to cover the state in fall 2008.
Mike Fahey, the former Democratic mayor of Omaha, said he would do whatever it took to deliver the district's electoral vote to Obama; and the Obama campaign
considered the district "in play".
Former Nebraska U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey
and then-U.S. Senator Ben Nelson
campaigned in the city for Obama,
and in November 2008 Obama won the district's electoral vote. This was an exceptional win, because with Nebraska's split electoral vote system
Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win an electoral vote in Nebraska since 1964.
In 2011, Nebraska lawmakers moved Offutt Air Force Base and the town of Bellevue — an area with a large minority population — out of the Omaha-based 2nd District and shifted in the Republican-heavy Omaha suburbs in Sarpy County. The move is expected to dilute the city's urban Democratic vote.
Omaha's 2nd District sent its single electoral vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Biden's victory, by more than 20,000 votes, shows Omaha's and the 2nd Districts’ continuing trend toward Democratic politics in recent years.
Omaha's rate of violent crimes
per 100,000 residents has been lower than the average rates of three dozen United States cities of similar size. Unlike Omaha, those cities have experienced an increase in violent crime overall since 2003. Rates for property crime have decreased for both Omaha and its peer cities during the same time period.
In 2006, Omaha was ranked for homicides as 46th out of the 72 cities in the United States of more than 250,000 in population.
As a major industrial city into the mid-20th century, Omaha shared in social tensions that came with rapid growth and the arrival of large numbers of immigrants and migrants. Persistent poverty resulting from racial discrimination and job losses generated different crimes in the late 20th century, with drug trade and drug abuse becoming associated with violent crime rates, which climbed after 1986 as Los Angeles gangs made affiliates in the city.
Gambling in Omaha has been an important part of the city's history. From its founding in the 1850s through the 1930s, the city was known as a "wide-open" town where gambling of all sorts was openly accepted. By the 1950s, at the same time large-scale restructuring of the railroads, the meatpacking industry and other sectors caused widespread job losses and unemployment, Omaha reportedly had more illicit gambling than any other city in the nation.
From the 1930s through the 1970s, a Mafia-based criminal element controlled gambling in the city.
Today, gambling in Omaha is limited to keno
, and parimutuel betting
. This leaves Omahans to drive across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where casinos are legal and many businesses operate. Recently, the National Indian Gaming Commission
approved a controversial proposal made by the Ponca
tribe of Nebraska. It will allow the tribe to build a casino in Carter Lake, Iowa
, which sits on the west side of the Missouri River, adjacent to Omaha, where casinos are illegal.
The major daily newspaper in Nebraska is the Omaha World-Herald
, which is the largest employee-owned newspaper in the United States.
Weeklies in the city include the Midlands Business Journal (weekly business publication); American Classifieds
(formerly Thrifty Nickel
), a weekly classified newspaper; The Reader
, as well as The Omaha Star
. Founded in 1938 in North Omaha, the Star
is Nebraska's only African-American newspaper.
Television networks and cable TV
Omaha's four television news stations include: KETV
7 (ABC- branded NewsWatch 7), KMTV-TV
3 (CBS- branded 3 News Now), WOWT
6 (NBC Omaha), and KPTM
42 (FOX 42). There is a fifth station, KXVO
15 (branded CW 15), though it does not air any news content. Cox Communications
provides cable television services throughout the metropolitan area.Prism TV
offered through CenturyLink
is a broadband TV option also available throughout the Omaha area. Satellite providers such as DirecTV
and Dish Network
and the local programming they offer are also available throughout the metropolitan area.
In 2008 Kiplinger's Personal Finance
magazine ranked Omaha the No. 3 best city in the United States to "live, work and play".
Omaha's growth has required the constant development of new urban infrastructure
that influence, allow and encourage the constant expansion of the city.
Portions of the Enron
corporation began as Northern Natural Gas Company
in Omaha. Northern provides three natural gas lines to Omaha. Enron formerly owned UtiliCorp United, Inc., which became Aquila, Inc.
. Peoples Natural Gas, a division of Aquila, Inc., serves several surrounding communities around the Omaha metropolitan area, including Plattsmouth
Omaha's central role in the history of transportation across America earned it the nickname "Gate City of the West."
Despite President Lincoln's
decree that Council Bluffs, Iowa
, be the starting point for the Union Pacific Railroad, construction began from Omaha on the eastern portion of the first transcontinental railroad.
By the middle of the 20th century, nearly every major railroad served Omaha.
Today, the Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District celebrates this connection, along with the listing of the Burlington Train Station
and the Union Station
on the National Register of Historic Places. First housed in the former Herndon House
, the Union Pacific Railroad's corporate headquarters have been in Omaha since the company began.
Their new headquarters, the Union Pacific Center
, opened in Downtown Omaha in 2004.
, the national passenger rail system, provides service through Omaha. The Greyhound Lines
terminal is at 1601 Jackson St. in downtown Omaha. Megabus
has a stop at Crossroads Mall
– N 72nd St. between Dodge St. and Cass St. – and provides service to Des Moines, Iowa City, and Chicago. Metro Transit
, previously known as Metro Area Transit, is the local bus system
Interstate 480 leaving Omaha
A 2017 study by Walk Score
ranked Omaha 26th most walkable of fifty largest U.S. cities.
Of the top 50 most walkable cities only one, Omaha, Nebraska, saw its Walk Score
decline, and it only decreased 0.3 points from last year.
There is an extensive trail system
throughout the city for walkers, runners, bicyclists, and other pedestrian modes of transportation.
, Omaha's airport, serves the region with over 5 million passengers in 2018.United Airlines
, Southwest Airlines
, Delta Air Lines
, American Airlines
, Alaska Airlines
, Allegiant Air
, and Frontier Airlines
, serve the airport with direct and connecting service. As of 2018, the airport has non-stop service to 34 destinations. General aviation
airports that serve the area include the Millard Municipal Airport, North Omaha Airport
and the Council Bluffs Airport
. Offutt Air Force Base continues to serve as a military airbase; it is at the southern edge of Bellevue, which in turn lies immediately south of Omaha.
- Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany
- Shizuoka, Japan
- Šiauliai, Lithuania
- Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
- Naas, County Kildare, Ireland
- Yantai, Shandong, China
Official records for Omaha kept at the Weather Bureau Office from January 1871 to May 1935 and at Eppley Airfield since June 1935 except for June 1977 thru December 1993 when the official station was Omaha WSFO.
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