Learn more about Omaha, Nebraska
|Nickname: "Gateway to the West"|
|- City||307.9 km² (118.9 sq mi)|
|- Land||299.7 km² (115.7 sq mi)|
|- Water||8.2 km² (3.2 sq mi)|
|Elevation||332 m (1090 ft)|
|- City (2005)||414,521|
|- Density||1,301.5/km² (3,370.7/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC-6)|
|- Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
Omaha is the largest city in the U.S. state of Nebraska. It is the county seat of Douglas County.GR6 As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 390,007. According to the 2005 census estimate, Omaha's population had risen to 414,521. Located on the eastern edge of Nebraska, it is on the Missouri River, about 20 miles (30 km) north of the mouth of the Platte River. Omaha is the anchor of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area. Council Bluffs, Iowa lies directly across the Missouri River from Omaha. The city and its suburbs formed the 60th-largest metropolitan area in the United States in 2000, with a population of 807,305 (2005 <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>) residing in eight counties or about 1.2 million within a 50-mile (80 km) radius.
 Early settlement
Prior to the establishment of the city, the area had been inhabited by numerous Indian tribes, who had adapted to 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" means "against the current", and the Omaha tribe would have had to go against the southward current of the Missouri River as they migrated north. The Omaha quickly adopted many of the cultural practices of the Pawnee.
On July 21, 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed by the riverbanks that would later become the city of Omaha. 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, and had a council meeting with members of the tribal leadership on the west side of the Missouri River. A decade later, adventurers and fur traders were frequenting the region, trading at Fort Atkinson, which was built in 1819 as a military outpost adjacent to the location of the earlier council meeting. The Mormons temporarily lived in the region from 1846 to 1848 before resuming their westward migration.
 Founding and growth
Omaha was founded in the summer of 1854 by land speculators from Council Bluffs, months after the Kansas-Nebraska Act created the Nebraska Territory. Later that year, Omaha was chosen as the territorial capital for Nebraska. Although Council Bluffs was chosen as the eastern terminus of America's first transcontinental railroad in 1862 with the passage of the Pacific Railway Act construction 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. The loss of the capital to Lincoln in 1867 did not slow Omaha's growth in the decades to come.
Omaha's growth was accelerated in the 1880s by the rapid development of the meat packing industry in South Omaha; in the 1880s, Omaha was the fastest-growing city in the United States. Thousands of immigrants from central and southern Europe came to Omaha to work in the stockyards and slaughterhouses, creating Omaha's original ethnic neighborhoods (located primarily in South Omaha).
The Trans-Mississippi Exposition was held in Omaha from June 1 to November 1, 1898. The exposition drew over 2 million visitors and involved construction of attractions spanning over 100 city blocks including a shipworthy lagoon, bridges and magnificent (though temporary) buildings constructed of plaster and horsehair.
 20th century
A devastating tornado ripped through Omaha in 1913 and has become known as the Easter Sunday tornado.
A low point in Omaha's history was the Omaha Race Riot of 1919, which occurred after a black man was arrested and accused of raping a white woman in September 1919 . A mob formed and removed him from the Douglas County Jail, on the top floor of the County Courthouse. The man was hanged from the lamppost on the south side of the courthouse and his body was burned and dragged through the streets. The mayor attempted to intervene and was nearly hanged himself. The courthouse was set on fire and seriously damaged. This incident was dramatized by playwright Max Sparber and produced by the Blue Barn Theatre in 1998 at the Douglas County Courthouse, the site of the riot.
U.S. President Gerald Ford (born Leslie Lynch King) was born in Omaha; however, he only spent his early childhood there. After his parents divorced, his mother remarried a man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and, consequently, Gerald grew up there. Omaha was also the birthplace of Malcolm X, but his family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when he was one year old.
The Omaha Stockyards was the world's largest livestock processing center during the 1960s, having taken over that distinction from Chicago's Union Stock Yards in the late 1950s. As improved truck and boxcar refrigeration capabilities encouraged the slaughtering process to move closer to feedlots, all centralized stockyard activity declined and the Omaha Stockyards were closed in 1999.
The Omaha Tornado of 1975 is another grim day in Omaha's past. An F4 tornado 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 January 1975, the city was paralyzed by a devastating blizzard which dumped several feet of snow on the city.
 Demolition and redevelopment
Omaha demolished a downtown district of brick warehouses called "Jobbers Canyon" in 1988, which was once listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The delisting and demolition of Jobbers Canyon to make way for the campus headquarters of ConAgra Foods and the city's Heartland of America park constituted the greatest loss of protected buildings in the history of the National Register Program.
On August 20, 2001, Nebraska Methodist Health Systems demolished the Indian Hills Theater, a "super-Cinerama" movie theater containing 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 Omaha arena/convention center complex, the Holland Performing Arts Center, the Gallup University campus, The River City Star riverboat landing, National Park Service Midwest Region headquarters, new high-rise headquarters towers for First National Bank of Omaha and Union Pacific Railroad and hundreds of condominium units. The First National Bank of Omaha tower is tallest building between Denver and Minneapolis, including its direct rival to the south, Kansas City, passing its tallest by 1ft.
Omaha is located at United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 307.9 km² (118.9 mi²). 299.7 km² (115.7 mi²) of it is land and 8.2 km² (3.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.67% water.. According to the
 Metropolitan area
- Further information: Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area
The Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area consists of eight counties; five in Nebraska and three in Iowa. In descending order of population, they are:
- Douglas County, Nebraska
- Sarpy County, Nebraska
- Pottawattamie County, Iowa
- Cass County, Nebraska
- Saunders County, Nebraska
- Washington County, Nebraska
- Harrison County, Iowa
- Mills County, Iowa
The Omaha-Council Bluffs-Fremont Combined Statistical Area is comprised of the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Fremont Micropolitan Statistical Area; the CSA has a population of 849,248 (2005 Census Bureau estimate).
 Neighborhoods and suburbs
- Bellevue, the oldest settlement in Nebraska and the state's third largest city, is just south of Omaha in eastern Sarpy County.
- Benson is a neighborhood of north-central Omaha near 60th and Maple Streets; it was annexed in 1917.
- Boys Town is an incorporated village near 132nd and Dodge Streets and is home to the famous institution of the same name.
- Chalco is an unincorporated residential area southwest of Omaha in northern Sarpy County.
- Dundee is a neighborhood in central Omaha near 50th and Dodge Streets. Originally a separate city, Dundee was annexed by Omaha in 1915, but this annexation was fought until 1917.
- Elkhorn is a fast-growing, residential suburb west of Omaha in Douglas County. On March 8, 2005, Omaha annexed Elkhorn; this annexation was upheld by a district court order on August 19. This annexation is not yet final, as Elkhorn has appealed the district court ruling.
- Florence is a historic neighborhood in north Omaha. The original Mormon settlement in Florence (1846) predates the city of Omaha; it was annexed in 1917.
- La Vista is a city south of Omaha in north-central. It is part of the Omaha Metropolitan area and it is in Sarpy County.
- Millard is a broad area of southwest Omaha; originally a separate city, Omaha annexed it in 1971. The original town site is near 132nd and Q Streets. The Millard Public School Districtschool district is separate from that of Omaha.
- North Omaha just north of downtown Omaha, is the urban center and one of Omaha's most progressive communities. North Omaha is also one of the oldest communities in Nebraska, boasting a rich history and diverse culture.
- The Old Market is a district in downtown Omaha, with many restaurants and shops.
- Papillion is a city south of Omaha and immediately south of La Vista. It is the county seat of Sarpy County.
- Ralston is a city in south-central Douglas County roughly bounded by 72nd, 84th, L, and Harrison Streets. It is surrounded by Omaha on three sides. The other side borders with LaVista, Nebraska. Ralston has not been annexed by Omaha to this date.
- South Omaha is a neighborhood south of downtown Omaha, originally settled by immigrants from central, eastern, and southern Europe. Once a separate city, it was annexed in 1915. Today, South Omaha is infused with latin culture, and is one of the most integrated communities in Nebraska.
Though located at approximately the same latitude as Rome, Omaha, by virtue of lying near the center of the North American continent, far from either large bodies of water or mountain ranges, has a typically continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. Average July maximum and minimum temperatures are 87 °F (30 °C) and 65 °F (17 °C) respectively, with moderate humidity and relatively frequent thunderstorms; the January counterparts are 31 °F (-1 °C) and 10 °F (-14 °C). The absolute maximum temperature recorded in the city is 111 °F (43 °C), the minimum -23 °F (-30 °C). Average yearly precipitation is 30 in (76 cm), falling mostly in the warmer months. What precipitation does fall in winter usually takes the form of snow, with average yearly snowfall being around 30 in (76 cm).
Population by decade
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there are 390,007 people, 156,738 households, and 94,983 families residing within city limits. The population density is 1,301.5/km² (3,370.7/mi²). There are 165,731 housing units at an average density of 553.1/km² (1,432.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 78.39% White, 13.31% African American, 0.67% Native American, 1.74% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 3.91% from other races, and 1.92% from two or more races. 7.54% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 156,738 households out of which 30.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% are married couples living together, 13.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.4% are non-families. 31.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.42 and the average family size is 3.10.
In the city the average age of the population is diverse with 25.6% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 92.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $40,006, and the median income for a family is $50,821. Males have a median income of $34,301 versus $26,652 for females. The per capita income for the city is $21,756. 11.3% of the population and 7.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 15.6% of those under the age of 18 and 7.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
As of the 2004 Current Population Survey, there are roughly 409,000 people, 154,879 households, and 92,903 families residing within the city limits. The 2004-2005 Statistical Abstract of the United States lists the total estimated population for the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area as 804,000.<ref>United States Census Bureau Statistical Abstract (PDF)</ref>. Omaha ranks as the 43rd largest city in the United States, and with the suburbs and Council Bluffs, Iowa, ranks as the 60th largest Metropolitan area.
Although Nebraska's economy is still primarily based on agriculture, Omaha's economy today has diversified to become a national leader in several industries, including banking, insurance, telecommunications, architecture/construction and transportation. Omaha's economy has grown dramatically since the early 1990s. Omaha's most prominent businessman is Warren Buffett, nicknamed the "Oracle of Omaha", who is ranked by Forbes Magazine as the second richest man in the world. He lives in a relatively modest home in the Dundee neighborhood west of downtown Omaha.
Omaha is the home of the headquarters of a number of major corporations, including:
- Berkshire Hathaway — Fortune 500
- ConAgra Foods — Fortune 500
- First National Bank of Omaha
- The Gallup Organization
- infoUSA — Forbes 200
- Mutual of Omaha — Fortune 500
- Omaha Steaks
- Peter Kiewit Sons' — Fortune 500
- TD Ameritrade
- Union Pacific Railroad — Fortune 500
- Valmont Industries
- Werner Enterprises
- Woodmen of the World
- West Corporation — Fortune 1000
Three of the top 20 largest architecture firms -- HDR, Inc., Leo A. Daly, Inc., and DLR, Inc., have their headquarters in Omaha.
The Omaha metropolitan area is home to Offutt Air Force Base (Offutt AFB) which is located just south of Omaha in the city of Bellevue. During the Cold War, Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters was located at Offutt. The successor to SAC, the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) is now also headquartered at Offutt. The base is operated by the 55th Wing and hosts several tenant units including Air Force Weather Agency, and the United States Air Force Heartland of America Band.
 Primary and secondary education
- Bellevue Public Schools – serves the Bellevue community; two high schools: Bellevue East and Bellevue West
- Brownell Talbot School – pre-k - 12 college preparatory school - non-parochial
- Elkhorn Public Schools– serves the Elkhorn community and parts of western Omaha; one high school
- Millard Public Schools– serves the Millard neighborhoods of southwest Omaha; three high schools: Millard North, Millard West, and Millard South
- Omaha Public Schools– serves much of the city of Omaha and is Nebraska's largest school district; seven high schools: Benson, Bryan, Burke, Central, North, Northwest, and South.
- Papillion-La Vista Public Schools – serves the Papillion and La Vista communities; two high schools: Papillion-La Vista and Papillion-La Vista South
- Ralston Public Schools – serves the Ralston community and parts of Omaha immediately surrounding Ralston; one high school
- Westside Community Schools – serves parts of west-central Omaha; one high school
- Omaha has a number of Catholic/parochial high schools: Duchesne, Gross, Marian, Mercy, Roncalli, Creighton Preparatory School, and Skutt.
- Creighton Preparatory School – the city's only Jesuit high school; founded in 1878.
 Colleges and universities
- Bellevue University
- Clarkson College
- College of Saint Mary
- Creighton University
- Grace University
- Hamilton College
- ITT Technical Institute
- Metropolitan Community College (Metro)
- Nebraska Indian Community College
- Nebraska Methodist College
- University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO)
- University of Nebraska Medical Center
- Vatterott College
Omaha is home to the Omaha Community Playhouse, the largest, and also one of the most famous and best-endowed community theaters in the United States, and to Girls and Boys Town; its Henry Doorly Zoo is widely considered one of the premier zoos in the world. The Blue Barn Theatre, Ak-Sar-Ben (now demolished), The Orpheum, and the Holland Performing Arts Center are venues located within Omaha.
The Durham Western Heritage Museum is located on 10th Street in the art deco Union Station. The museum has numerous permanent exhibits and is accredited with the Smithsonian Institution for traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian.
A portion of Omaha's renovated downtown area is known as the Old Market. Part of the former "Jobbers Canyon" that included fruit markets, warehouses and other agricultural and industrial buildings, it is home to a number of shops, restaurants, bars, and art galleries. The area also has uneven brick roads, horse drawn carriages, and street performers.
Major music groups either located in or originally from Omaha include the Omaha Symphony, Opera Omaha, Mannheim Steamroller, Bright Eyes, The Faint, Cursive, and 311 and the late indie-folk singer/songwriter Elliott Smith. The Joslyn Art Museum has significant art collections, particularly of Native American art and art works relating to the early European exploration of western North America.
The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, located just east of downtown's Old Market area, was founded in the early 1980s and plays host to artists from all over the world. It is the largest urban artists' colony in the world, founded originally by Ree Schonleau (Kaneko), wife of famed Japanese artist Jun Kaneko, who now makes his home in Omaha and will open Museum Kaneko in 2008.
Between the zoo and the Old Market lies the Omaha Botanical Gardens (also known as Lauritzen Gardens). This 100-acre (40 hectares) botanical garden features 13 outdoor areas, including a rose garden, herb garden, children’s garden and an arboretum. Recognizing Union Pacific's long history in Omaha, situated on the grounds of Lauritzen Gardens is the new Kenefick Park, featuring two of the largest locomotives ever used in the United States - Big Boy #4023, a steam engine, and Centennial #6900. These locomotives overlook Interstate 80 for motorists entering from Iowa.
Omaha has been showcased in recent years by a handful of relatively big budget motion pictures. Perhaps its most extensive exposure can be accredited to Omaha native Alexander Payne, the Oscar-nominated director who shot parts of About Schmidt, Citizen Ruth and Election in the city; his handling of the scenes suggests a deep-rooted love for his hometown, exemplified by his decision to make a feature film called Nebraska in the near future. Portions of The Assassination of Richard Nixon and The Indian Runner were also shot in Omaha. In 2005, Payne joined the board of directors of Film Streams, a nonprofit arts organization opening a two-screen cinema in downtown Omaha. Qwest Center Omaha, the 18,000-seat arena attached to the $300 million convention center that sits just north of downtown on the bank of the Missouri River, plays host to major international acts, and is ranked one of the top 10 venues in ticket sales in the world.
- Further information: Omaha Metro Radio Stations, Omaha Metro Television Stations, Omaha Metro Printed Media Outlets
The Omaha metropolitan area is served by the Omaha World-Herald, the city's major newspaper, as well as suburban newspapers and independent newspapers and magazines including The Omaha Star, The Reader, and Omaha Magazine.
The Omaha World Herald is the largest employee-owned newspaper in the United States, and also has one of the highest "penetration rates" -- the percentage of the population that subscribes to the newspaper -- in the country. The World-Herald Freedom Center, a $200 million printing press, is on the north end of downtown.
Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium is home to the Omaha Royals minor-league baseball team (the AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals). Since 1950, it has hosted the annual NCAA College World Series men's baseball tournament in mid-June. The Omaha Beef indoor football team plays at the Omaha Civic Auditorium.
Ice hockey is a popular spectator sport in Omaha. The three Omaha-area teams are: the Omaha Lancers, a USHL team that plays at the Mid-America Center; the University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks, an NCAA Division I team play at the brand-new, state-of-the-art Qwest Center Omaha; and the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames. The Knights play their home games at the Omaha Civic Auditorium.
- Further information: Music of Nebraska
Omaha has a rich history in rhythm & blues and jazz as a regular stop for many Kansas City bands and such homegrown talent as Wynonie Harris, Preston Love, and Buddy Miles. The city was also the subject of the Big Joe Williams song "Omaha Blues". During the 1960's several surf bands came out of Omaha of which The Rumbles has become the longest lasting. During the 1990's, Omaha (or Emo-ha) became well known nationally as the birthplace of the successful rock band 311 and Saddle Creek Records, a record label featuring bands including Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, Cursive and many more.
 Health and medicine
Omaha is the smallest city in the United States to have two major research hospitals, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Creighton University Medical Center. UNMC is world renowned cancer treatment and transplant center, attracting patients internationally.
Alegent Health Bergan Mercy Medical Center, Alegent Health Immanuel Medical Center, Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital, Alegent Health Mercy Hospital (Council Bluffs), Alegent Health Midlands Hospital in Papillion, The Nebraska Medical Center (University of Nebraska Medical Center/Clarkson Hospital), Creighton University Medical Center, Douglas County Community Mental Health Center, Methodist Hospital, Children's Hospital, Omaha Veterans Administration Hospital, and Jennie Edmundson Hospital (Council Bluffs) are hospitals located in the metropolitan area.
Eppley Airfield, Omaha's airport, serves the region with nearly 4 million passengers enplaning or deplaning in 2005. Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, USAirways, Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, Midwest Airlines, American Airlines and Frontier Airlines serve the airport with direct and connecting service. Eppley is situated near Carter Lake, which is part of Iowa and is the only city in Iowa west of the Missouri River. Carter Lake, actually a former tributary of the Missouri River, was cut off from the rest of Iowa by a Missouri River flood in 1877. General aviation airports serving the area are Millard Municipal Airport, North Omaha Airport, and Council Bluffs Airport. Offutt Air Force Base is a military base.
The primary mode of transportation in Omaha is by car, with I-80, I-480, I-680, I-29, and U.S. Route 75 (JFK Freeway and North Freeway) providing freeway service in the metropolitan area. The expressway along West Dodge Road (U.S. Route 6 and Nebraska Link 28B) and U.S. Route 275 is currently being upgraded to freeway standards from I-680 to Fremont; the construction Dodge expressway was completed Friday, October 13. Metro Area Transit runs a number of bus routes within the city. Omaha is laid out on a grid plan, with 12 blocks to the mile (east - west).
Although Council Bluffs was chosen as the starting point for the Union Pacific Railroad, construction began from Omaha on the eastern portion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. By the middle of the 20th century, Omaha was served by the following railroads: Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific (CRIP), Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CBQ); Chicago Great Western (CGW); Illinois Central (IC); Chicago & Northwestern (CNW); Wabash (WAB); Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific (The Milwaukee Road) (CMStP&P); Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha; Missouri Pacific (MP); and Union Pacific.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service through Omaha, operating its California Zephyr daily in each direction between Chicago and Emeryville, California, across the bay from San Francisco.
 Missouri River Bridges
Omaha's position as a transportation center was finalized with the 1872 opening of the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge linking the transcontinental railroad to the railroads terminating in Council Bluffs. In 1888 the first road bridge the Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge opened. In the 1890's, the Illinois Central drawbridge opened as the largest bridge of its type in the world at that time. Omaha's Missouri River road bridges are now entering their second generation, including the WPA financed South Omaha Bridge (now Veteran's Memorial) which was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is currently scheduled to be demolished. In 2006 Omaha and Council Bluffs announced plans to build the Missouri River Pedestrian Bridge which should become a city landmark on its scheduled opening in November 2008.
 Sister cities
Omaha has six sister cities, which are:
- Image:Flag of Japan (bordered).svg Shizuoka, Japan
- Image:Flag of Germany.svg Braunschweig, Germany
- Image:Flag of Lithuania.svg Šiauliai, Lithuania
- Image:Flag of Ireland (bordered).svg Naas, Ireland
- Image:Flag of Mexico.svg Xalapa, Mexico
- Image:Flag of Ukraine.svg Artemivsk, Ukraine
 Image gallery
 See also
- Notable natives of Omaha, Nebraska
- List of movies made in Omaha, Nebraska
- List of crossings of the Missouri River
- List of Registered Historic Places in Nebraska#Douglas County
 External links
- City of Omaha Official Website
- Omaha Weather
- Omaha Concerts
- Omaha Marathon
- Omaha Chamber Music Society
- Omaha Symphony Musicians' Org.
- eOmahaforums.com Contains active discussion forum on Omaha news and development.
- Omaha Anti-Censorship WebSite
- Lazy-i: Online indie music 'zine/blog with a special emphasis on the Omaha area.
- Omaha area radio stations
- Recent low-level aerial photos of downtown Omaha by skylightgeographics.com
- Maps and aerial photos