History of Omaha
The pioneer period in Omaha started in 1854 when speculators from the neighboring Council Bluffs founded a town and called it Omaha, which in the language of native tribes in the area meant “above all others upon a stream.” It was incorporated three years later. The construction of the terminus for the Pacific Railroad in Omaha started in 1863 and marked the beginning of the transition from a basically lawless frontier town to one of America’s largest railroad centers. Equally important for the development of Omaha was the founding of Union Stockyards in 1883, which attracted many immigrants, especially from Southern Europe. At the time the city also had over fifty brickyards. In 1898, Omaha hosted the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition with more than one million visitors. At the turn of the century, Omaha was one of the largest grain markets in the nation and most of its economy was based on agriculture, as well as on insurance.
The beginning of the 20th century in Omaha was marked by great social unrest and racial tensions. In 1909 there was a major riot that drove out almost entire Greek population out of Omaha and in 1919 a mob marched to the courthouse, burned down the building and lynched a black man who was suspected of having raped a white woman.
The foundation of Offutt Air Force Base after the Great Depression provided new boost for the city. The base is probably most famous for having constructed Enola Gay and Bockscar bombers used in the atomic bombing of Japan and today it is the headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Command.
In the 1980, the city attracted a number of telecommunications companies which replaced meatpacking sector as the Omaha’s largest employer. Omaha continued to grow and underwent several developing projects during the first decade of the 21th century, and its business environment is generally considered to be very healthy.
Geography and Climate
Omaha is located in eastern Nebraska, on the banks of the Missouri River. Like the rest of Nebraska, Omaha is located in what is sometimes called the “Heartland” of the USA. It occupies an area of 130.58 square miles, of which 3.5 miles are water.
The climate in Omaha is humid continental. Winters are cold and summers are hot, occasionally very humid, with frequent thunderstorms and occasional tornadoes.
The city is divided into Downtown, Midtown, North Omaha, South Omaha, West Omaha and East Omaha. West Omaha includes the historic Boys and Girls Town, as well as Regency, Miracle Hills and Gateway. Omaha also has a number of historically ethnic neighborhoods, such as Little Bohemia, Little Mexico, Greek Town and Little Italy.
Some of the historic districts in Omaha include Fort Omaha Historic Districts, Gold Coast Historic District and Omaha Quartermaster Depot Historic Center.
White flight and suburban sprawl in the city started in the 1950s and many suburbs today are gated communities or edge cities.
In 2010, Omaha had a population of 408,958. The racial makeup was 68% non-Hispanic Whites, 13.7% African Americans, 13.1% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 2.4% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 6.9% some other race and 3% two or more races.
The median household income in 2010 was $40,006 and the per capita income for the city was $21,756.
Omaha is among the top-ten largest cities in per-capita billionaires and Fortune 500 companies. Major employers in the city include Omaha Public Schools, Alegent Health System, First Data Corporation, Methodist Health System, Mutual of Omaha, Offutt Air Force Base, West Corporation, Nebraska Medical Center and ConAgra Foods.
The city has the headquarters of five Fortune 500 companies: ConAgra Foods, Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific Railroad, Kiewit Corporation and Mutual of Omaha. Other major companies include the Gallup Organization, TD Ameritrade, First National Bank, Paypal, LinkedIn, HDR, Inc., Leo A. Daly and others.
Omaha is home to one of the richest people in the world, the billionaire and philanthropist Warren Buffett.
Events and Culture in Omaha
The city hosts the annual College World Series, which attracts a large number of visitors each year. The Henry Doorly Zoo, one of the best zoos in the world, and the Old Market are also very popular among tourists.
Omaha is home to the largest community theatre in the USA, the Omaha Community Playhouse. It also has a number of other theatre companies and venues, a symphonic orchestra and an opera company. Other significant cultural institutions include the Joslyn Art Museum, the Durham Museum, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, General Crook House and Great Plains National History Museum.
The city has a long tradition of rhythm and blues and of jazz and it is home of the so-called Omaha sound, with bands such as Bright Eyes, The Faint and Cursive.
Omaha has eleven colleges and universities. Some of the top ranked ones include the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Creighton University, College of Saint Mary and Nebraska Methodist College.
Omaha has played a central role in the history of transportation in the USA. It was the eastern terminus of the first transcontinental railroad and by the 1950s it was served by almost every major railroad. Today, however, the primary mode of transportation around, to and from the city is by car. Main highways in Omaha include I-80, I-480, I-29, I-680 and U.S. Route 75. The primary airport in the city is Eppley Airfield.