A History of 24th Street in North Omaha



Today, Omaha suburbs routinely bill themselves having a “street of dreams” in order to sell houses. However, for more than 50 years there was one place in the city people thought of when they heard that phrase. Hopping businesses, swinging clubs and streams of human traffic came and went from these blocks. Here’s some of the history of North 24th Street, Omaha’s REAL street of dreams.

There’s a ridiculous appropriation of African American history that happens every year in Omaha, one that few people know the injustice of. To show that reality, I want to begin by painting a scene for you.

 

This is a window at The Blue Lion on the southeast corner of North 24th and Lake Streets.

Imagine yourself in 1920s North Omaha. You’re strolling along N. 24th Street near Lake, and as you walk you hear squealing jazz trumpets and thumping bass lines drifted out of clubs. There and there and over there are matinees showing, and a crazy-looking action scene being filmed right off the main strip.

Walking along, you have two pretty women or fellas on your arms, a smile on your face, and a great time on your mind. There’s a lively scene all around you, with clubs and stores, taverns and restaurants chiming.

 

A group of kids standing at N. 24th and Nicholas during a 1964 parade.

During this time, Omaha’s Jewish community lived throughout the neighborhood, too. They ran many businesses along North 24th, and took pride in serving the African Americans, Eastern Europeans, and other people living throughout the Near North Side neighborhood then.

This is the what was called Omaha’s “Street of Dreams” —not some manufactured opulence in the western part of the city, but right here in North Omaha. It was called that because it seemed like anything could happen for a determined, dedicated African American or white person in Omaha, and N. 24th was the place to see that go down.

In the 1960s, the North Omaha’s N. 24th Street was ravaged by fires, looting, and riots. However, before that the community was absolutely rich.

 


Beginning North 24th: 1860s to 1890s

 

John McCreary’s mansion at N. 24th and Pratt, built est 1860 and demolished by the 1950s.

Saunders Street, named for early Nebraska Governor Alvin Saunders, originally carried Omahans to the country. By the 1880s, it was called North 24th Street, and began getting settled in earnest in that decade. During those years, wooden buildings popped up along the way while wagons could roll on further. The road originally went north to the town of Saratoga, where a driver could turn along a section line and go up to Florence. People built houses off the road, with Germans, Italians, and other European settlers coming in first.

The Jewish community in Omaha first settled along North 24th in the 1870s. As more Jews came from different parts of Europe, including Germany, the Baltic states, and other countries, they developed a sophisticated commercial presence along the street. Early businesses along the street included grocery stores, bakers, blacksmiths, lumber and hardware stores, and more.

 

This was a grocery store, Hall’s Confectionary shop, and “St. Louis Flat” style apartments

During this time, African Americas in Omaha lived nearer to downtown than they do today. By 1867, enough blacks gathered in community to found St. John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church at N. 9th and Capital Streets as the first church for African Americans in Nebraska. By the 1880s, Omaha’s original “Negro district” was located at 20th and Harney Streets. However, as the black community grew in numbers and successes it expanded north to 24th.

By the 1890s, African Americans in Omaha were zooming up the social, economic, and political ladder of Omaha’s predominantly white society. Black men and women quickly formed social and community organizations for education, respectability and reform. Several African American newspapers were started in the 1880s and 90s, including the Progress, the Afro-American Sentinel and The Enterprise.

 

This building was located at 2019 North 24th St. It was the original Omaha Library, and was moved here by 1907 when this photo was taken.

Dr. Matthew Ricketts became the first black person elected to serve in the Nebraska Legislature in 1892, and in 1895 Silas Robbins became the first black lawyer admitted to the Nebraska State Bar Association. Ricketts and Robbins both had offices along a growing strip of businesses in the city, even though they were segregated from serving the majority of European residents. Their offices were located on N. 24th Street.

In the 1870s and 80s, Jewish settlers from eastern Europe built many of the first businesses along N. 24th Street. Bakeries, clothing stores, groceries, drug stores, and laundries took shape along the strip. Along with the Jews, there were businesses owned by Germans, Swedes, and other immigrants. Synagogues, churches, and mortuaries lined the strip too, many focused on the immigrant and racial groups in the city.

 

The Jewell Building circa 1910s.

Further along N. 24th were sprawling estates, like John Redick’s mansion at 3612 N. 24th Street. From 1909 to 1919, the Redick Mansion was the home of Omaha University. OU was located in North Omaha until 1938.

 


North 24th Street Grows: 1900s to 1940s

 

Omaha University’s Jacobs Hall, with N. 24th Street showing in the foreground.

Black-owned businesses and cultural establishments spread along N. 24th in the 1910s and 20s. The so-called “black movement” in Omaha, echoing the Harlem Renaissance, took root in this period. The economy of African Americans grew while the culture expanded. In 1921, St. John’s AME joined the neighborhood churches, along with Zion Baptist and others formed to serve African Americans.

 

 

Omaha’s best nightlife happened along N. 24th Street. The most popular hangouts were Mildred Brown’s Carnation Ballroom at N. 24th and Miami, and the Dreamland Ballroom, located at 2221 N. 24th. The most popular black bands from across the U.S. played to packed crowds every night of the week at both of these hallowed party places. Jim Bell’s Club Harlem at North 24th and Lake was also a high point, along with the Aloha Club and several others.

 

 

Metropolitan Building and Loan Association, 4508 North 24th Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
The Metropolitan Building and Loan Association was on N. 24th and Ames for 40 years before moving to Benson.

 

Movie theaters entertained the masses, along with juke joints, and clubs up and down the strip. The Omaha Star started publishing in 1938 at 2216 N. 24th, and continues today. This is when N. 24th was called Omaha’s Street of Dreams.

 

Live Wire Cafe, 3713 N. 24th Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
The Live Wire Cafe was at 3713 N. 24th St. in North Omaha from 1968 through 1986.

This was the zenith of North 24th Street. After World War II it was never the same.

 

 


North 24th Street Changes: 1950s to Today

 

This 1953 pic is looking north on 24th Street from Lake Street at the streetcar tracks. Duffy Drugs and the Bell-Rite Supermarket are on the left.

After the second world war, the N. 24th St. strip stopped growing in ernest, although there were a few developments. Carver Savings and Loan, the city’s first black-owned bank, opened in 1944. Jews continued to own a number of businesses, and the number of black-owned businesses serving the African American community stopped growing.

In 1954, Charlie Hall started the Fair Deal Cafe at 2114 N. 24th to become Omaha’s “Black City Hall”, which it served as for almost 50 years. There were many exceptional places to eat along North 24th Street, including the Fair Deal, Carter’s Cafe, the Live Wire, and many others.

Carter’s Cafe opened in 1948, and after moving around several times, settle in just off 24th and Lake at 2514 N. 24th Street. It was open for more than 35+ years.

 

Tony Salerno’s Lothrop Shoe Service in the 1940s. It was located at 3124 North 24th Street.

During this same period, Omaha’s gross racism raged. Eight black schools served African American students in North Omaha, with several clustered around N. 24th Street. Whites had mostly fled the area by then, with strict agreements among realty agents preventing African Americans from buying homes outside a certain district dissected by N. 24th. This white flight continues to hawk North Omaha, as whites routinely refuse to live next door to African Americans.

Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church was reformed in 1954 as an integrated congregation, intentionally hoping to serve both blacks and whites. That congregation lasted 40 years, and today there is a different church in the building serving the all-African American neighborhood where its located.

 

Da-Nite Miniature Golf on N. 24th Street in the 1930s.

By the 1960s, the Jewish community was divesting from N. 24th and the entire Near North Side neighborhood. At the same time, the City of Omaha wasn’t supporting parks, sidewalk and street upkeep, and other government services in the area.

By this point, major institutions had been moving away from N. 24th St. for more than 20 years. The Swedish Mission Hospital went bankrupt in 1937, and Omaha University moved to West Omaha at 60th and Dodge Streets in 1938. The Omaha Presbyterian Theological Seminary closed in 1943, and many community churches closed or moved west.

 

The Dreamland Ballroom in 1964, with the Texaco station across the street to the north.

During the 1960s, four major riots ravished the ten blocks that held the majority of businesses along N. 24th. Dozens of businesses were destroyed, and many of those that were left vacated North Omaha by the early 1970s. An example of one business that was looted and destroyed in subsequent riots was the California Shop, a men’s clothing store on North 24th at Lake Street in the 1950s and 60s.

The neighborhood has never recovered. Since the 1980s, there have been several government and private plans to improve the street, but overall they have failed to materialize. With recent interest to improve the area, recent plans may prove more successful.

 

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy speaking to a crowd at N. 24th and Erskine in May 1968.

 


Blue Lion Center

The Blue Lion Center is made of two buildings located on the southeast corner of North 24th and Lake Streets. Built in 1918, there were a number of businesses here over the years, including the Calhoun Hotel, a Black hotel that served a lot of musical greats who played in North Omaha; a number of African American doctors; and Rabe’s Buffet, a popular restaurant for decades. However, the Blue Lion buildings were name after two of their most famous tenants: McGill’s Blue Room, a jazz club; and Lion Products, which sold farm equipment. According to longtime resident Debra Stewart, other historic businesses in the Blue Lion included Stewart’s Tops and Bottoms, Rags to Riches, a barber shop and nail salon, and a candy store, among others.

Today, the Blue Lion is being transformed into the home of the Union for Contemporary Arts, as well as additional space for retail or a restaurant. It should open in early 2017.

 


North 24th Street Historical Tour

The historic cultural center of the Near North Side neighborhood and Omaha’s African American community was indisputably N. 24th St. The following list of sites just on this street shows why.

  1. The Majestic Theatre, 413 No. 24th
  2. Fern Theatre, 716 North 24th St. – Opened in 1913
  3. Bellows Carpentry, 913 N 24th St. – 1890
  4. Omaha Fire Department Station #6 site, 914-16 North 24th St.
  5. Baines and Donoghue Meat Market, 933 N 24th St. – 1890
  6. Brown Livery Stable, 1001 N 24th St. – 1890
  7. Barth Meat Market, 1010 N 24th St. – 1890
  8. Barker Groceries, 1013 N 24th St. – 1890
  9. Blackman, Flour and Feed, 1014 N 24th St. – 1890
  10. Dr. E.L. Alexander, Physician, 1024 N. 24th St. – 1890
  11. Canan Books and Stationery, 1024 N. 24th St. – 1890
  12. Kellom Pool and Community Center, 1101 N. 24th St.
  13. B’nai Jacob Anshe Sholom, 1111 N. 24th St. – Located at 24th and Nicholas, this synagogue was credited for attracting many Jewish people to Omaha’s North Side. Formerly Omaha’s Second Presbyterian Church, it was converted in 1909.
  14. Donovan Brother’s Furnaces and Supplies site, 1114 north 24th St. – A large store located here from the 1930s through the 1960s.
  15. Brown Billiards, 1115 N 24th St. – 1890
  16. Knights of Pythias Hall site, 1121 N. 24th St. – A historic social hall serving the Near North Side from the 1870s through the 1910s.
  17. Carlson and Erickson Shoes and Furnishing Goods, 1218 N. 24th St. – 1890
  18. Baldwin Mechantile, 1300 N 24th St. – 1890
  19. Emerson Laundry, 1303 N. 24th St. – Located here in 1913.
  20. Butter’s Studio, 1306 N. 24th St. “A poor portrait is dear at any price, but a good one is well worth the money. Ours are good and yet not expensive.”
  21. Charles Bales, Harnessmaker, 1310 N 24th. St. – 1890
  22. Paul Street School/Kellom Elementary School site, 1311 N. 24th St. – Opened at 24th and Paul Streets in 1892, the Paul Street School was a black school for 50 years. In 1952, a new building was opened.
  23. Top Notch Cafe, 1322 N. 24th St. – “Special table d’hote dinner Sunday. 50 cents. Classy entertainers. If you cannot come, telephone your orders and we will deliver them.”
  24. Ahlquist Hardware, 1327 N 24th St. – 1890
  25. Bocock and Proctor Coal, 1330 N 24th St. – 1890
  26. Bell’s Restaurant, 1331 N 24th St. – 1890
  27. Carlson Meat Market, 1339 N 24th St. – 1890
  28. Logan Fontenelle Housing Project site, 1411 N. 24th St. – Located at 20th to 24th Streets, and from Paul to Seward Streets, “Little Vietnam” opened in the 1930s. Logan Fontenelle was a low-income public housing project that was torn down in the 1990s. It was the site of the murder of teenager Vivian Strong by Omaha policeman James Loder in 1969, which led to riots that devastated N. 24th.
  29. The Sanitary Ice Cream Parlor, 1425 N. 24th St. – Offered a deli and a “full line of groceries” according to a 1917 Monitor ad.
  30. Betterman Drugs, 1437 N 24th St. – 1890
  31. North Omaha Community Development, Inc., 1502 N. 24th St. – Opened in 1984, NOCD has grown from a community organizing agency to the developer of major projects such as the Horizon Townhomes and the Blue Lion Center.
  32. Wolk Tailor, 1506 N. 24th St. – “First class tailoring, Men’s second-hand clothing at bargains. All kinds of alterations and special dry cleaning,” from a 1917 Monitor ad.
  33. Cornelius Olof Shoemaker, 1513 N 24th St. – 1890
  34. Kosher Meat Market, 1513 N. 24 St. – Operated by Sam Fried and Iz Kukljn with Jacob Shukert was the schcet, this was considered the most modern kosher market in Cmaha in 1919.
  35. Carlson Clothing Store, 1514 N. 24th St. – Established in 1890, this store sold “shoes and gents furnishings.” In a 1917 Monitor ad, they said, “Many a hard earned dollar can be saved at Carlson’s store this week.”
  36. Drs. Wesley Jones and Herbert Wiggins, Dentist, 1518 1/2 N. 24th St. – An African American physician.
  37. Dr. G.B. Lennox, Dentist, 1602 N. 24th St. – An African American physician.
  38. Abrams Furnace, 1606 N. 24th St. Provided “furnace work and general tin work of all kinds.”
  39. Central Ice Service, 1607 N. 24th St.
  40. Franklin Theater site, 1624 N. 24th St. – Open in 1921. 
  41. Building site, 1701 N. 24th St. – An example of a building destroyed by fires from the 1966 riots.
  42. Adler Bakery site, 1722 North 24th St. – A large commercial bakery that operated here through the 1960s.
  43. Lynch Tailor, 1807 N. 24th St. “Ladies suits or skits made to order. Cleaning, pressing and repairing neatly done for ladies and gents.” 
  44. American Laundry, 1809 N. 24 St. – “Ladies’ and children’s fine dresses and clothes given special attention. Bundle washing. Work called for and delivered. Get our prices.”
  45. Alhambra Theatre site, 1814 North 24th St. – Open in 1911, after its closure, the building became a roller rink, a grocery store and a miniature golf course before burning down in 1936.
  46. Bohn Saloon, 1822 N 24th St. – 1890
  47. Climax Tailors, 1837 N. 24th St. Cleaning – Pressing – Altering. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
  48. Schnaubers Meats, 1906 N. 24th St.
  49. DePorres Community Center, 1914 N. 24th St. – The original stand-alone location.
  50. The Hawkins Block, 2010 N. 24th St. – Built in 1924 by African American Dr. Anthony L. Hawkins, this block showed the strength of Omaha’s emerging African American middle class.
  51. King Yuen Cafe, 2010 1/2 N. 24th Street, Phone JA. 8576. Featuring Chinese and American Dishes. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
  52. Original Omaha Library building site, 2019 N. 24th St. – Originally located downtown, it was moved here by 1907.
  53. The Grotto, 2025 N. 24th St. – A club starting in the 1920s that hosted the Omaha Night Owls and the Sam Turner Orchestra, among others.
  54. Carey Neighborhood Grocery, 2120 N. 24th St. – Owned by two African American brothers that owned five other stores, including another one in North Omaha at N. 27th and Ohio.
  55. Ritz Theatre site, 2041 N. 24th St. The Ritz opened in the mid 1930s and was an African-American theatre that sat more than 500. The theatre closed in the 1950s and was demolished.
  56. Crissey Drugs, 2112 N 24th St. – 1890
  57. Fair Deal Cafe, 2118 N. 24th St. – Once called Omaha’s Black City Hall, Fair Deal was open from the 1950s through the 1990s.
  58. Dr. A.L. Hawkins, Physician, 2120 N. 24th St. – An African American physician.
  59. Jackson Lunch Room, 2122 N. 24th St. – Offered short orders and 6pm dinner with special home cooking according to a 1917 Monitor ad.
  60. Skeet’s Barbecue Drive-In, 2201 N. 24th St. – A longtime establishment currently open.
  61. Creacy’s Chicken Hut, 2210 N. 24th Street. Home of Golden Brown Fried Chicken. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
  62. Omaha Star Building, 2216 N. 24th St. – Built as a mortuary, this building has been home to the Omaha Star since it was founded in 1938. The Omaha Star has been North Omaha’s premier news source ever since. This building was the second home to the DePorres Club and a safe haven for people running from the riots in the 1960s.
  63. Jewell Building, 2221 N. 24th St. – This building was home to Omaha’s spectacular Dreamland Ballroom, a prime nightspot for almost 50 years. Located in the heart of the Near North Side, the Dreamland hosted Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and many other stars.
  64. Tuxedo Billiards, 2221 N. 24th St. – This was the second location of this business.
  65. Idlewild Hall site, 2222 N. 24th St. – An African American entertainment hall, this site was packed on the early evening of March 23, 1913 when a major tornado blasted it. At least 14 people died here.
  66. Mecca Amusement Co., 2303 N. 24th St. – Offered roller skating, dancing, movies, music, an outdoor cabaret cafe, and a soft drink fountain in a 1915 Monitor ad.
  67. Williamson and Terrell Drug Store, 2306 N. 24th St.
  68. Tuxedo Billiards, 2307 N. 24th St. – This was the first location of this business.
  69. Club House Cafe, 2310 N. 24th St. Hot Home Cooked Meals and Short Orders. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
  70. Metoyer Bar-BQ, 2311 1/2 N. 24th St.
  71. Hill’s Catering, Employment, Rentals and Real Estate site, 2324 North 24th St.
  72. Hill’s Chicken in a Box site, 2324 North 24th St.
  73. Goodrich Hall site, 2340 N. 24th St. – Built in the 1880s, this was a social hall that was home to fraternal organizations, a church, and several other groups for many years.
  74. Carver Savings and Loan Association building, 2416 Lake St. – This landmark building housed a bank that provided an important economic lifeline to African Americans from the 1940s through the 1970s.
  75. Robert Kennedy speaking location, 24th and Erskine – In May 1968, Bobby Kennedy stopped his campaign entourage to get out and speak to the large African American crowd gathered here.
  76. Diamond Moving Picture Theater site, 2410 Lake St. – This was the site of Omaha’s first Black theatre, and one of the sites most decimated by a deadly 1913 tornado. Many people were falsely thought to have died here; few actually did. The theatre was rebuilt and used for many purposes throughout the years, including its last purpose as the illustrious Cotton Club.
  77. Standard Laundry Company, 2401 Lake St. – Located on this corner for many years, this business was opened by Edholm and Sherman.
  78. Da-Nite Miniature Golf, 2210 N. 24th St.
  79. The Omaha Star, 2216 N. 24th St. – Home to Omaha’s oldest African American newspaper.
  80. Drs. J.A. and C.H. Singleton, Dentists, 2411 N. 24th St. – African American dentists.
  81. Blue Lion Center, 2417-2423 N. 24th St.
  82. Lion Products Company, 2417 N. 24th St. – An agricultural implements dealer
  83. The California Shop, 2414 North 24th St – A men’s clothing store
  84. McGill’s Blue Room, 2423-25 N 24th St. – A club that hosted many popular acts from the 1930s to the 1960s.
  85. Drs. Craig Morris and Dr. J.H. Hutten, Dentists at 2419 1/2 N. 24th St. – African American dentists.
  86. Calhoun Hotel, 2423 Lake St. – This was an African American-friendly hotel.
  87. Rabe’s Buffet, 2425 N. 24th St. – Owned by an African American and operated for many decades.
  88. Midway Cafe, 2418 N. 24th – Owned by African American James Bell for many decades.
  89. Drs. A.A . Foster, Price Terrell and A.M. McMillan, Physicians, 2420 N. 24th St. – African American physicians.
  90. Lewis Clothing, 2503 N. 24th St. “Buy your shoes from Joe Lewis and save money. Quality guaranteed.”
  91. Berry and Womack Drugs, 2504 N 24th St. – 1890
  92. Althouse School of Beauty Culture, 2505 N. 24th – This was the third of three locations in the schools’ history.
  93. Osborne Shoes, 2506 N. 24th St. – “18 years as cost man with shoe manufacturers. We sell only high grade, reliable shoes.” From an 1889 ad in The Excelsior.
  94. Blue Arrow Cafe, 2509 No. 24th Street. “Best in Omaha.” Fine Food Good Coffee. (From the 1949 Grayson’s Guide)
  95. Loves Jazz and Arts Center, 2512 N. 24th St. – One of North Omaha’s present-day cultural hubs, featuring performance art and other works.
  96. Carter’s Cafe, 2515 N. 24th St. – A 35+ year institution at 24th and Lake, Ms. Carter’s Cafe served extraordinary soul food and is still home to many peoples’ best memories of delicious North O food.
  97. Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, 2602 N. 24th St. – Originally the site of a Mormon church, Mt. Moriah moved here in 1926 and built a new building in 1934.
  98. Carnation Ballroom, 2700 N. 24th St. – Located at N 24th and Miami on the southeast corner of the intersection, the Carnation was site to many grand performances and performers, including young James Brown and others.
  99. Opportunities Industrialization Center, 2802 N. 24th St. – Originally opened in a remodeled car garage and warehouse. Today it provides job training to unemployed and underemployed persons who want to upgrade their skills. Omaha’s OIC was first established in 1966 with their new building opened in 1976.
  100. Sothmann Dry Cleaning, 3012 N. 24th St.
  101. Dr. W.W. Solomon, Physician, 3022 N. 24th St. 
  102. Reed’s Ice Cream, 3101 N. 24th. – After opening here in the 1920s, Reed’s developed a segregationist perspective in their business: African Americans were allowed to buy the ice cream, but not work for the business. This shop was picketed relentlessly by the DePorres Club in 1953, and stopped its racist hiring practices because of it. It closed in the 1960s.
  103. Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church, 3105 N. 24th St. – Built in 1910 as the North Presbyterian Church, this landmark was designed by F. A. Henninger. Its architecture was greatly influenced by the Trans-Mississippi Expo a decade earlier.
  104. Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barbershop, 3116 N. 24th St. – Established by Dan Goodwin, Sr. in 1955, Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barbershop has been the location of many important conversations in North Omaha history. Ernie Chambers was a barber here.
  105. Lothrop Theatre site, 3212 N. 24th St. – Opened in 1938, the Lothrop seated 480. It closed in 1955 and was demolished at some point after that.
  106. Immanuel Baptist Church site, 3401 North 24th St. on the southeast corner of Pinkney St.
  107. Luzianne’s (Lee’s) Ice Cream Company, 3515 North 24th St. Storefront designed by architect Edward J. Sessinghaus.
  108. Cox Groceries, 3906 N 24th St. – 1890
  109. Althouse School of Beauty Culture, 3619 N. 24th – This was the second of three locations in the school’s history.
  110. Mayne – Redick Mansion, 3612 N. 24th St – Built in 1876, this mansion was dismantled in 1908
  111. The McCreary Mansion, 3706 N. 24th St -Built in the 1880s, this mansion became a hospital in 1905 and then was demolished in 1926.
  112. Omaha University campus site, 3700 N. 24th St. – This corner was originally the location of John Redick’s mansion. Starting in 1906, the University of Omaha was located here.
  113. Swedish Mission Hospital, 3706 North 24th St. – After buying McCreary’s Mansion in 1905, the hospital changed names in 1928 to the Evangelical Covenant Hospital and built new buildings. It closed in 1938 and was sold to the Salvation Army that year.
  114. Dewey Chevrolet, 3813 North 24th St. – Located here from the 1920s until ???
  115. Native Omahans Club, 3819 N. 24th St. – Founded in 1976, this group plans Native Omaha Days celebrations, including a community-wide picnic, parade, social activities and other events.
  116. Salvation Army Rescue Home, 3824 N. 24th. – Opened in 1896, this institution existed at this location in 1914.
  117. Frolic Theater building, 4116 North 24th St. – Open in 1914
  118. Boyer Lumber Company site, 4223 North 24th St. One of a number of businesses owned by J.A. Boyer.
  119. Boyer’s Coal and Coke Company site, 4223 North 24th St.
  120. Harmon and Weeth Coal and Gas site, 4811 North 24th St. in the 1930s.

Related Articles

 


BONUS PICS!

 

 

 

1967 24th Street parade
A 1967 picture of a Technical High School drill team at North 24th and Burdette Streets. Look closely and see Skeet’s BBQ, the Dreamland Ballroom and Fair Deal Cafe.

 

This is The Blue Lion on the southeast corner of North 24th and Lake Streets at the heart of the new historic district.

 

24th and Willis comparison 1936 2016
This compelling comparison shows 24th and Willis in 1936 and in 2016. It truly shows what this neighborhood was, and what its become…

 

Here’s a comparison between 24th and Erskine in 1928 and today.
The Mecca Amusement Co. at N. 24th and Grant offered A LOT of entertainment!
Here’s a parade marching south from North 24th and Patrick Streets in 1967, and the same place today. 
Children standing outside the DePorres Community Center at 1914 N. 24th St.
The buildings at North 24th and Ohio in 1984 look distinctly different than today.
Located at 4223 North 24th Street, Boyer Coal was part of a series of businesses owned by J.A. Boyer.
Looking north from North 24th and Miami in 1937, its hard to believe the same scene today.
A 1917 ad for the Top Notch Cafe at 1322 N. 24th Street.
The safeway under construction at North 24th and Evans in 1936 was open for thirty years. Today, its a storage facility.
Dewey Chevrolet Company was located near North 24th and Manderson from the 1920s through the 1950s.
In the early 1980s, the Long School neighborhood north of 24th and Cuming was targeted for redevelopment. Today, the area still bears the marks of what happened.
Protestors at the Reeds Ice Cream shop at N. 24th and Wirt in 1953.
Despite all the talk that the 1969 riots destroyed everything around 24th and Lake, this photographic evidence shows there were still many buildings standing afterward. However, but 2016 the block at N. 24th and Burdette Streets was clearly decimated.
This is Da-Nite Miniature Golf at N. 24th and Grant in 1930.

 
This is Reiler’s Grocery at 2509 North 24th Street in 1913.
The California Shop at 2414 N 24th Street in 1956.
This is looking north and west from North 24th and Pinkney in 1928.

 

Boyer Lumber and Coal Company, N. 24th and Boyd Streets, North Omaha, Nebraska
The Boyer Lumber and Coal Company started in 1907. Their major mill was burned down in the 1950s, and the store closed in the 1970s. It was located at North 24th and Boyd Streets next to the Belt Line Railway.

 

Alamo Ice Cream Garden, 24th and Grant Streets, North Omaha, Nebraska
The Alamo Ice Cream Company was at N. 24th and Grant. A rare business that catered to African Americans when Omaha was de facto segregated, it also featured music, entertainment, dancing and more. Alamo stayed open from the 1916 to 1924.

 

Grant Pharmacy, 24th and Willis, North Omaha, Nebraska
On November 6, 1935, the Omaha World-Herald reported an African American pharmacist was suspected of arson. He apparently burnt down his own store after a disagreement with his co-owner. The arson went unsolved. The business was called the Grant Street Pharmacy and it was located at N. 24th and Willis.

 

Classic Bowling Alley, 2520 N. 24th Street, North Omaha, Nebraska
The Classic Bowling Alley was located at 2520 N. 24th in a building still standing today!

 

38 thoughts on “A History of 24th Street in North Omaha

Add yours

  1. The correct spelling of the owner of the showcase lounge is Paul B. Allen Sr., you had it spelled (Allan) and his brothers also helped him run it. Paul was my uncle, and Jesse Allen was my father. Location of lounge is Lake St.

    Like

    1. Great article. Beautifully researched. However, my dad was a pillar in the North Omaha Community. James Stewart, better known as J. C. by everyone who knew him, gave many black people the necessary funds to start their businesses. He not only was a Real Estate owner, he had a barbershop and poolhall at 24th, near Grant, for decades. He also owned the only Ezee Drive through Liquor Store in Omaha. People in Omaha absolutely loved my father for his generosity, his humanity for his people, and his sincere genuine heart. He’s a major player in the history of Omaha, and who was also a veteran of World War II.

      Like

  2. Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barbershop was established by my dad Dan Goodwin Sr, in 1955 and so it’s been open now for more than 60 years. The footnote says more than 50, but I just wanted to provide that accurate detail. Thank you for the acknowledgement. Dan Goodwin Jr., owner Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barbershop.

    Like

  3. Thank you Adam, Dan Goodwin jr, is a great friend and who I consider a Mentor. In the early 80s I was the Ice Man for many of these businesses.
    Charlie Hall always had a smile except one day when I had to tell him ice prices were being raised. There was no better Sunday Morning Breakfast than at the Fair Deal Cafe. Allen’s Showcase was also a regular customer along with many other establishments. My business partner Dan Smith and I took great pride in our service to all of our customers but we loved the Fair Deal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great to hear about your experience Jeff – thank you! Now, not to sound too ignorant, but there were still ice deliveries in the 80s? For soda ice machines or what? Just curious – I’m ignorant!

      Like

  4. I am trying to find who owned Mike’s pharmacy that was on the corner of 24th and Fort St. in the 1960’s. the pharmacist’s name was Mike. I’m trying to find his last name. The pharmacy was there to at least March 1968.
    His wife Janel (sp) owned Janels dress shop at 72nd and Dodge in the 70’s. Not sure when it closed.

    Like

    1. Mike’s Pharmacy was on the corner of 24th and Fort from approximately 1963 to approximately 1974. Here’s a pic of it during flooding that happened in the early 1960s. Lowell Michael “Mike” Coil owned the drug store with his wife.
      Flooding at N. 24th and Fort Streets in the early 1960s.

      Like

      1. Thanks so much!! I just went down memory lane. I found the information I was looking for. I really enjoy reading and learning about the neighborhood history. I’ve learned a lot from this site. Thanks again.

        Like

  5. You’ve failed to mention Carters Café 2510 N.24th Street, Owned and operated by Lucy Carter (My Grand Mother) now occupied by Love’s Jazz,, One of the First Black Owned Businesses.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑