A Quick History of Omaha

March 28, 2019

 

Omaha has a rich history, like so many cities in America. It's hard to believe, but Omaha was once considered part of the American West, as it was initially part of President Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase. 

 

Following a treaty with the Omaha tribe, whose name means “Dwellers on the Bluff,” the Nebraska Territory was created as a part of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the city of Omaha founded on July 4, 1854. A celebratory picnic was held on Capitol Hill, the present day site of Central High School, though not everything would be so joyous for Omaha.

Without much law enforcement in its formative years, the Omaha Claim Club brought an early style of vigilante law to the area. They were later ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and disbanded for their violent tactics.

 

Omaha also had to survive the Panic of 1857, a sudden economic downturn and series of bank and business failures that hit the young city especially hard.

 

Despite these setbacks, and the loss of the state capital to Lincoln, Omaha emerged in the 1860's and 70's as a Midwest industrial hub, chosen as the point for Western expansion of the transcontinental railroad, Union Pacific.

 

With the founding of Omaha University in 1908, the city began to shed its image as a place of vice and corruption. The city capitalized on its growing reputation when it became the home of Offutt Air Force Base  and US Strategic Command. Its reputation in meatpacking continues today, albeit in a diminished role, but it was the construction of Rosenblatt Stadium in 1950 that really put Omaha on the modern map. The College World Series has been held in Omaha ever since, claiming over 6,000,000 fans to date.

 

Omaha was not immune to the racial tension that characterized the country during the Civil Rights movement. Having already endured a bitter race riot in 1919, with the rise of suburbs and highways in the 1950's, traditionally diverse neighborhoods became ethnically concentrated, and poverty became a common feature of many neighborhoods.

 

Around this same time, middle class suburbs sprung up around West Omaha, but recent efforts to revitalize Downtown and Midtown have done much to bridge the economic divide of the past.

 

Today, nearly 450,000 people call Omaha home, making it the 40th largest city in the United States. Its metro area comprises nearly 1 million residents, making it the 59th largest metro area.

 

Omaha boasts being the city where one of the world’s richest men, Warren Buffett live and it boasts one of the best ranked zoo's in the world.

 

There is something in the air in Omaha: a guiding spirit sure to lead future Omahans to continue the preservation of their city’s past, the revitalization of its present, and the innovation of its future.

 

Sources:

omaha.net/history
omaha.com

bestplaces.net

 

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