Omaha, Nebraska

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Omaha, Nebraska
Flag of Omaha, Nebraska
Seal of Omaha, Nebraska
Location of Omaha,  Nebraska
Location in Nebraska
County Douglas County
Mayor Michael Fahey
 - Total
 - Water

1290.6 km² (498.3 mi²)
75.7 km² (29.2 mi²) 5.86% 
 - City (2000)
 - Density
 - Metropolitan

Time zone Central (UTC –6)
WGS-84 (GPS)
 41.2580° N 95.9360° W
Official Website

Omaha is the largest city in the U.S. state of Nebraska. It is the county seat of Douglas County.6 As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 390,007. According to the 2004 census estimate, Omaha's population had risen to 409,416. Located on the eastern edge of Nebraska, it is on the Missouri River, about 20 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River. Omaha is the center city of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area. Council Bluffs, Iowa lies directly across the Missouri River from Omaha. Together, the two had formed the core of the 60th-largest metropolitan area in the United States in 2000, with a population of 767,041 residing in eight counties.



Downtown Omaha Skyline
Downtown Omaha Skyline

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. Omaha was chosen as the eastern terminus of America's first transcontinental railroad in 1862 with the passage of the Pacific Railroad Act. 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 meatpacking 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 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.

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 in September 1919 after a black man was arrested for raping a white woman. 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.

The Enola Gay and Bock's Car were two of 536 B-29s manufactured at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Factory in Omaha, Neb. near the end of World War II.

The Omaha Stockyards was the world's largest livestock processing center during the 1960's having taken over that distinction from Chicago's Union Stockyards in the late 1950’s. 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 South 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.

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 when he was one year old.

Omaha Beach is not in Omaha, but was an Allied WWII code name for a beach in Normandy.

Arts, culture and attractions

Joslyn Art Museum's tiled Fountain Court
Joslyn Art Museum's tiled Fountain Court

Omaha is home to the Omaha Community Playhouse, 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, a nationally famous semi-professional company that specializes in the works of contemporary playwrights, was founded in 1989 by a group of recent graduates from Purchase College.

A portion of Omaha's renovated downtown area is known as the Old Market. It is home to a number of shops, restaurants, bars and art galleries. There one may find 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, and 311. The late indie-folk singer/songwriter Elliott Smith was also born in Omaha. 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.

Between the zoo and the Old Market lie the Omaha Botanical Gardens (also known as Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha's Botanical Center ( This 100-acre botanical garden features 13 outdoor areas, including a rose garden, herb garden, children’s garden and an arboretum. It also includes an indoor floral display hall, educational programs for children and adults, annual festivals, a café, and a gift shop. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Omaha is now home to the AHL franchise, the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, farm team to the Calgary Flames. This franchise was previously located in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Omaha is also best known for the NCAA Division 1 College World Series, held every year at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. The CWS has been held in Omaha every year since 1950.

Omaha continues to earn mention in many popular songs: see "Songs about Omaha" below. An increasing number of movies about Omaha have also been made.


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.



Omaha's Skyline
Omaha's Skyline

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, and transportation; Omaha's economy has grown dramatically since the early 1990s.

Omaha is the home of the headquarters of a number of major corporations, including:


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 controlled by the 55th Wing and hosts several tenant units including Air Force Weather Agency, and the United States Air Force Heartland of America Band.

On May 2, 2005, the Omaha World Herald reported that the economic impact of base upon the local community amounted to approximately $2 billion annually.


Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium is home to the Omaha Royals minor-league baseball team (the AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals) and since 1950, 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.

The Creighton Bluejays compete in a number of NCAA Division I sports.

Omaha-Area Venues


School Districts

Colleges and Universities

Law and Government

Law Enforcement Agencies in the Metropolitan Area

  • Omaha Police Department
  • Council Bluffs Police Department
  • Nebraska State Patrol, Troop A
  • Omaha FBI Branch, BATF, and DEA
  • Bellevue Police Department
  • Papillion Police Department
  • La Vista Police Department
  • Ralston Police Department
  • Missouri Valley Police Department
  • Blair Police Department
  • Union Pacific Police Department (Railroad Police)
  • Douglas County Sheriff's Department
  • Sarpy County Sheriff's Department
  • Washington County Sheriff's Department
  • Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Department

Omaha Hospitals

Metro Hospitals


Omaha is located at 41°15'38" North, 96°0'47" West (41.260482, -96.012990)1.

According to the 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.

Metropolitan Area

Satellite photo showing Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa
Satellite photo showing Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa

See: 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:

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 839,867 (2004 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 an increasingly trendy 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.[1] 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 (ca. 1846) predates the city of Omaha; it was annexed in 1917.
  • La Vista is a residential suburb south of Omaha in north-central 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 school 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. Though predominantly an African-American neighborhood, North Omaha boasts a rich and diverse culture.
  • Papillion is a suburb south of Omaha and immediately south of La Vista. It is the county seat of Sarpy County.
  • Ralston is a residential suburb in south-central Douglas County roughly bounded by 72nd, 84th, L, and Harrison Streets. It is surrounded by Omaha on three sides.
  • South Omaha is a working-class 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 its population is predominantly Hispanic.


Omaha Interstate I-80 West
Omaha Interstate I-80 West

Omaha's Eppley Airfield serves much of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. 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 was cut off from the rest of Iowa by a Missouri River flood in 1877.

The primary mode of transportation in Omaha is by car, with I-80, I-480, I-680, I-29, and U.S. Highway 75 (JFK Freeway and North Freeway) providing freeway service in the metropolitan area. The expressway along West Dodge Road (U.S. Highway 6 and Nebraska Link 28B) and U.S. Highway 275 is currently being upgraded to freeway standards from I-680 to Fremont; constuction will be completed in 2008.

Metro Area Transit runs a number of bus routes within the city.



Omaha was chosen as the starting point for the Union Pacific Railroad, 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 Pac\


Famous people from Omaha


Population by decade

1860 - 1,883
1870 - 16,083
1880 - 30,518
1890 - 140,452
1900 - 102,555
1910 - 124,096
1920 - 191,061
1930 - 214,006
1940 - 223,844
1950 - 251,117
1960 - 301,598
1970 - 346,929
1980 - 313,939
1990 - 335,795
2000 - 390,007
2004 - 409,416 (est.)

As of the census2 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 2003 Current Population Survey, there are 373,815 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 793,000 (source: 2004-2005 Statistical Abstract of the United States, Appendix II).

Songs About Omaha

Interestingly, a number of songs exist about or referring to Omaha. A list follows of songs about Omaha:

Songs that mention Omaha include

Sister cities

External links

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