Some neighborhoods have been in Omaha since the beginning of the city in the 1850s. Others were suburban developments, either intentionally planned or just part of the sprawl of a city growing quickly with few checks and balances on developers. The area around Sorenson Parkway west of North 33rd Street falls into the second category. This is a history of the intersection of North 42nd and Redman Avenue.
Building for Who?
Surrounded by farms and fields from the 1860s onward, the area around 42nd and Redman was originally out in countryside. Located a half mile from the commercial intersection at North 42nd and Grand Avenue on the edge of the historic Central Park neighborhood, the area around 42nd and Redman grew up enough to get electrical lights installed in 1908. From that point through the 1960s, this area was called “Northwest Omaha” and was regarded as being a suburban neighborhood.
This new Northwest Omaha neighborhood was a suburban enclave for white families to flee from the increasingly Black neighborhoods closer to downtown Omaha, including the Near North Side, Kountze Place, Bedford Place and Saratoga. Instead, they took long commutes from their jobs to 42nd and Redman and similar areas, and relied on white-only institutions that were de facto segregated.
In the post-World War II housing boom, the area around 42nd and Redman was engulfed in construction. I estimate that from 1945 through 1960, more than 1,000 houses were built in the area immediately around the intersection. The Meadowbrook Homes addition started construction at the southwest corner in 1952. With 80 homes in the development, it extended from Redman to the south side of Jaynes Street, and from North 42nd to North 46th Street. The Meadowbrook Homes were advertised as “real bargains” and featured “low priced homes” starting at $8,000. The ads said, “Not prefab or precut, but conventional built with FHA inspection and guaranteed loan. 24’8″ x 32′. 2 bedrooms, utility room, living room, kitchen, bath. Plaster throughout. Cedar siding, complete with doors.” There were also full basements. Later ads said there were “24×30 conventional 4-room, number of homes limited, compare before you buy. The very best of material and construction.” This is just one example of the many homes built between Fort Street and Kansas Avenue, from Fontenelle Boulevard to North 48th Street.
Other developments in the neighborhood during the 1950s included a number of churches growing and opening, such as Central Park Presbyterian Church, St. Richard’s Catholic parish, and other congregations. As the main thoroughfare between two primary Jewish cemeteries in North Omaha—Golden Hill and Temple Israel—there were initially a number of Jewish residents in the area, too.
Keeping Segregation Intact
With the increased pressure from Omaha’s Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, whites-only neighborhoods throughout the city faced increased pressure to integrate. Real estate agents, along with lenders, home builders and insurance companies, maintained white supremacy with a variety of tactics, including racially discriminating associations that could legally maintain segregation.
In 1958 neighborhood leaders established the Redman Valley Recreation Association to serve their own desire to keep Black people segregated from white people. Focused on building recreational facilities, the association grew quickly to serve 200 families and put out a bid for constructing the Redman Valley Recreation Association swimming pool in early 1959. Located at 5416 Fontenelle Boulevard, just a few blocks from the 42nd and Redman, the pool would cost $15,000 to build, and the bathhouse was estimated at $5,200. It was finished quickly and opened that summer.
In 1963, the Omaha Star called out the Redman Valley Recreation Association for its racism. During a citywide debate over where to locate the low-cost housing for seniors to be built by the Omaha Housing Authority, the Redman group signed onto a plan that kept the housing in the segregated neighborhoods south of Ames Avenue and east of North 30th Street. The building was constructed at North 24th and Pratt Streets. However, the racially exclusive pool couldn’t withstand the end of segregation in Omaha, and when white people started moving away and African Americans moved in, it closed.
As many middle class white families moved out, the association collapsed. With the association gone, the pool was closed permanently in 1974. By 1978 the newspaper declared it a “city problem,” and that year the pool was filled in with concrete. Today, that concrete pad is still there and the pool house has been repurposed as the Shiloh Church of God in Christ.
Businesses salivated at the idea of serving all those residents, looking for commercial spaces throughout the area. It was the 1950s before the intersection took off commercially, but suddenly there were several businesses there. A grocery store, drug store, drive-in, bar and other places opened up quickly.
The Wiles Mobile Station was located at the intersection for a long time, as well as the Crest Service Station. Wiles became the Sprague Mobil in the late 1960s. That shop started selling used cars immediately, and by 1970 the intersection was home to Sprague Used Motors. The corner was also host to Branson Mobile and the Redman Mobile station starting around 1971.
The first large development at the intersection was the Shaver’s shopping center on the northwest corner. It included a supermarket, drug store, liquor store, barber shop and laundry, with parking for 125 cars. Construction was started there in 1958. In 1959, Shaver’s Supermarket opened at 42nd and Redman. In a congratulatory ad from that March, the company said “Your response to the new Shaver’s at 42nd and Redman was wonderful… From now on it’s up to us to make Shaver’s at 42nd and Redman the kind of store you love to shop.” In a February ad that year, the store said “We’re sure you’ll be delighted with Shaver’s at 42nd and Redman! Every feature of this wonderful new store has been planned with your shopping convenience in mind. With the opening of this store, Shaver’s brings its reputation for low prices and good food to another section of Omaha. Providing really good food is the first duty of a food store. Shaver’s knows you can have good food at reasonable, low prices. That’s the way Shaver’s has succeeded!”
Several restaurants were located at the intersection throughout the years. A Dairy Queen was at 42nd and Redman in the 1960s. In 1963, the Redman Steak House opened next to the Frosty Drive-In, but closed quickly because of neighbor’s protests to them serving alcohol. The Frosty Drive-In opened on the southwest corner of the intersection in 1957, after Truman Clare built the building for $5,700. The building has been many food-related businesses since Frosty closed in 1962, including Tele-Chick (1962-1963), the Andersen Dairy and Donut Store (1963-1972), Little Mac’s Place (1972-1978), S.J. & Sons Fish and Chicken (1980-1984) and the Bus Stop Cafe (1984-1987).
In the 1960s, there was a Dreshers Dry Cleaners located at the intersection.
By the late 1960s, the area wasn’t referred to as Northwest Omaha anymore. Instead, it was woven into the fabric of the community and thought to be a sustainable place for long term, stable living and business. Space in the strip mall at the intersection was available for lease in 1970. The advertisement said, “Excellent space available in modern shopping center, former doctor’s office.”
A Kwik Shop opened near the corner in 1971. A convenience store, the business was constantly busy and maintained its customer base for more than a decade.
Still a desirable area, the intersection hadn’t declined yet. However, all that was different by the mid-1970s.
After Dresher’s Dry Cleaners closed, Blacklight Amusement Center took over their spot at 4293 Redman Avenue in 1972. Filled with pool tables and pinball machines, the business was owned by Paul Talarico and was a popular teen hangout for several years. However, they immediately struggled with staying open because of complaints from neighboring businesses. According to the World-Herald, Arthur Seigfreid, owner of Seig’s Drugs next door, said “The main problem is that they attract a bunch of hoodlums. They draw an undesirable element to the area. I’ve lost customers because of that place. We’ve had a multitude of problems.” Seig told the newspaper he anticipated $1,500 in lost sales per month the amusement center was open. “If there’s a generally steady increase each month and then it drops off drastically, there’s something wrong.” Blacklight’s lease was canceled in May of the year, and the business was ultimately open for fewer than 5 months.
Within a few years several other businesses moved out. It was 1980 when Seig Drug moved to another location. Art’s Auto Supplies moved into the intersection in the late 1970s, and Phil’s Foodway took over the Shaver’s location in 1979. It was founder Phil Morrison’s first grocery store. Leola McDonald (1955-2010) opened a store at the intersection called Mystical Sounds in 1977. It was her first venture before opening Leola’s Records and Tapes at North 33rd and Parker later.
In the 1980s, the City of Omaha started removing the abandoned Chicago and Northwestern tracks (formerly the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad tracks) just north of 42nd and Redman. For more than a century this line served the region, and after trains stopped running on it there were empty tracks for decades. However, for the almost the entire next decade an empty dirt track sat along the route where the rails were. In 1981, Phil Morrison, owner of Phil’s Foodway, said construction hurt his business there. In 1982, the Kwik Shop near 42nd and Redman closed. Zion Wheel Baptist Church was located in this storefront in the 1990s and early 2000s, but didn’t stay and today it sits empty.
In the 1990s, the City of Omaha redeveloped the old railroad as the Sorenson Parkway. Today, the route shuttles drivers from North 30th Street to North 90th Street. Some drivers stop at the current businesses at 42nd and Redman.
Indicative of the challenges facing the intersection, in 2000 the Douglas County Adult Probation Office opened a satellite office next to Phil’s Foodway. A county commissioner expressed concerns over the safety of the staff in the office, saying “I think there are some serious concerns on the part of the staff who will be working there. They don’t want to go.” The offices aren’t located there anymore. That same year, Phil Morrison and his business partner converted their Phil’s Foodway grocery store into a Cubby’s Convenience Store.
In 2012, the City of Omaha designated 346 acres in North Omaha as blighted. Using North 42nd on the east, North 49th on the west, Nebraska Avenue to the north and Fort Street to the south, the designation suggested the commercial area at 42nd Street and Redman could also be improved. No visible change happened because of this designation though.
42nd and Redman Today
The neighborhood around the intersection has changed a lot since its heyday in the early 1960s. The housing stock has not been improved and in many cases has deteriorated dramatically. There are a number of apartment buildings around the intersection that have not been up kept or modernized since they were built in the 1950s and 1960s. When houses in the area have fallen into disrepair, the City of Omaha has either supported their demolition or demolished them itself. There is little in-fill activity in this neighborhood, where builders construct new houses to replace old ones that have been demolished.
The intersection pales in comparison to its high point in the 1960s. However, despite the way its painted by the media and seen by passers-by, the commercial intersection of 42nd and Redman isn’t dead. At the turn of the century, there was a barber shop located at the intersection. Other businesses located at North 42nd and Redman today include Cubby’s Convenience Store, which anchors the corner, and a store called $.99 Cents and More. Lermu Asian Groceries Store, Cross Auto Repair, Misty’s Angels Daycare, and Misty’s Convenience Store are also at or near the intersection.
The customer base in this area is largely African American, but includes Asian Americans and white people too. This a working class neighborhood in need of an upswing. The City of Omaha needs to introduce strategic beautification of the buildings in the area, and send a city planner in to work with building owners and business owners and residents to practically, meaningfully and sustainably repair the damage done by 50 years of benign neglect by Omaha city leaders. Then the area can move ahead.
The other thing that needs to happen is for the City of Omaha to acknowledge the value of this intersection in the past. Right now, there is no historical recognition of the value of North 42nd and Redman Avenue in the history of Omaha. Despite its undeniable influence and guidance in anchoring the commercial life of this area for more than 25 years, its lost among the noise of the traffic racing up and down Sorensen Parkway today.
42nd and Redman Historical Business Directory
- Andersen Dairy and Donut Store (1963-1972), 4207 Redman Avenue
- Art’s Auto Supplies (1980-1983), 4205 Redman Avenue
- Blacklight Amusement Park (1972), 4293 Redman Avenue
- Branson Mobile Gas Station (1955-1971), 4202 Redman Avenue
- Bus Stop Cafe (1984-1987), 4207 Redman Avenue
- Checkpoint Carwash (19??-2011)
- Cross Auto Repair (200?-present), 4256 Redman Avenue
- Cubby’s Convenience Store (2000-present), 4232 Redman Avenue
- Dairy Queen (1961-1973), 42nd and Redman
- Douglas County Adult Probation Office (2000-20??), 4238 Redman Avenue
- Dresher’s Dry Cleaning, 4201 Redman Avenue
- Frosty Drive-In (1957-1962), 4207 Redman Avenue
- Jim’s Pak-A-Sak (1973-1977), 4442 Redman Avenue
- Kwik Shop #606 (1971-1982), 4222 Redman Avenue
- Lermu Asian Groceries Store (20??-present), 4236 Redman Avenue
- Little Mac’s Place (1972-1978), 4207 Redman Avenue
- Misty’s Angels Daycare (20??-present), 5430 North 42nd Street
- Misty’s Convenience Store (20??-present), 5438 North 42nd Street
- Mystical Sounds (1977-19??),
- Phil’s Foodway, (1982-2000), 4232 Redman Avenue
- Primus Sterilizer Company (19??-2007), 4256 Redman Avenue
- Redman Center Laundry (197-1982), 4310 North 43rd Street
- Redman’s Mobile Station (1971-1989), 4202 Redman Avenue
- Redman Steak House (1963), 4209 Redman Avenue
- Ron and Elmer’s As Is (aka Northside As Is) (1977-1981), 4228 Redman Avenue
- S.J. & Sons Fish and Chicken (1980-1984), 4207 Redman Avenue
- Seig Drug (1960-1980), 4205 Redman Avenue
- Shaver’s Supermarket (1958-1981), 4232 Redman Avenue
- Shipley’s Hydraulic Repair Service (1981-1982), 4226 Redman Avenue, then moved to 5710 North 34th Street (1983)
- Sprague Mobile Station (19??-19??), 4202 Redman Avenue
- Tele-Chick (1962-1963), 4207 Redman Avenue
- Wiles Mobile Station (19??-19??), 4202 Redman Avenue
- 99 Cent Store and a Whole Lot More, (1985-present), 4205 Redman Avenue
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MY ARTICLES ABOUT THE HISTORY OF STREETS IN NORTH OMAHA
STREETS: 16th Street | 24th Street | Cuming Street | Military Avenue | Saddle Creek Road
INTERSECTIONS: 42nd and Redman | 40th and Ames | 40th and Hamilton | 30th and Ames | 24th and Fort | 30th and Fort | 24th and Lake | 16th and Locust | 20th and Lake
STREETCARS: Streetcars | Streetcars in Benson | 26th and Lake Streetcar Barn
OTHER: North Freeway
I grew up not far from 42nd and Redman. My parents shopped at Shavers and Seig Drugs. Spent from 1970 to 1973 swimming at the pool and belonging to the swim team( some of the best Summers of my childhood). We played on the railroad tracks and friends put graffiti on the train overpass on Fontenelle Blvd.We to buy candy that was connected to the drug store and went to a dentist at the back of the building. Frequented the Dairy Queen and our Neighbor worked at the donut shop. So sad the neighborhood went down hill. My family moved in 1973 but still have a strong connection to North “O”. Thank you so much for these articles. Brings back great memories. Lived there till I was 16 great times
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Thank you so much for the article I thought that area was forgotten, it was a perfect area to grow up
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Grow up next door to Redman valley pool I remember all the store my mom worked at dairy queen it was like a little piece of heaven we knew all are neighbors too
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What was the address of the Redman Valley Pool. We belonged to it but, I think the address listed above is wrong. I thought it was closer to 42nd St. Many thanks!
The address for the pool is listed in the article…
Where was the A&W Drive in? I remember going there as a family and it was a big treat!
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It was located on Ames Avenue at Fontenelle Blvd.
I spent every summer at the pool!! Loved Pak A Sak!! Took the PATH, to the pool daily and sledded down it in the winter!
Sad how things change!! Great job and thanks for the history lesson. I now know why my parents bought the house at 5304 N 44th Ave.
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My first job as a car hop. My dad, Joe Stella and his brother, Don opened Frosty’s drive-in.
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Thank you for the trip down memory lane, I also grew up in this neighborhood and lived there until I married in 1981. It was a great neighborhood to grow up in and while doing so there is no doubt I traveled every block of the area. To this day, Anderson’s Dairy had the best cake doughnuts I’ve ever had.
However, I do have a few corrections/additions to your essay.
Redman Valley Recreation Association
• While it is true the Redman Valley pool was segregated for the majority of it’s existence it did open it’s gates to all races in 1974, it’s last year. I worked at the pool in 1974 but they laid me off after two weeks due to financial difficulties (but they let me swim for free). By that time the pool was in desperate financial straits as membership numbers were very low. Part of the lack of membership, I believe, where the number of empty nesters that were still living in the area. Also the cost of joining the association may have kept some families from joining; members needed to buy a bond and then pay yearly dues, some may have found it more beneficial to travel to Gallagher or Miller parks to use their pool and pay as they swam.
• The Shiloh Church of God in Christ. is not located in the old pool house of the Redman Valley Pool, it is located in the old Belvedere Community Club building, in fact the Redman Valley Recreation Association held an organizational meeting at the Belvedere Club on June 10, 1958 per the June 8, 1958 edition of the Omaha World Herald.
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Greg where exactly was the pool? We belonged but, I thought it was closer to 42nd than the article above states. Many thanks!
On your map above your directory you show the Dairy Queen to be on the SW corner of the intersection of 42nd & Redman, in reality in was straight north of the Mobil station up against the RR tracks. I believe the foundation still exists.
Leo’s Conoco operated at 4352 Redman Ave from at least 1970 to early 1972. After Leo’s it became Redman Conoco and I don’t know how long it lasted but it eventually became a self service car wash.
Hals House of Bottles located at 4232 Redman and was in the east end of the Shaver’s complex next to the dry cleaners. Hal would later open a store near 72nd & Military.
Mrs. Glenda Borkenhagen grew a large garden in the empty lot at 4404 Redman Ave which is between the old Kwik Shop and where Leo’s Conoco once was located. She sold produce out of her garage at 4408 Jaynes St.
Northwestern Bell had a service center at 4256 Redman Ave as early as 1958 I am unsure when they ceased operations at this facility.
Goodrich Dairy operated a store at the north end of 5720 N 43 AV. It opened in 1972 but I am unsure when it closed. It was a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
The biggest hub-bub in the neighborhood that I recall was when Wilson’s Lounge was attempting to open in the south end of 5430 N 42nd St. in late sixties early seventies. The ladies in the neighborhood were up in arms about the bar opening and I believe circulated petitions to no avail. I do not know when the bar closed but it did last quite a while at least until the early 70’s.
In the basement below Wilson’s Lounge, before Wilson’s came into existence a man by the name of Titschner (may not be the correct spelling” ran an instrumental music lessons business. He taught piano, organ and accordion as far as I know.
Again thank for allowing me to revisit by youth, it was very informative and a pleasure to read. You taught me things I wasn’t aware of.
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Very interesting website. My family history around this intersection goes back nearly 60 years. My father worked at the Shaver’s Grocery there, and at the Liquor Store on the East End. That store was originally named Scudlareks Liquor. Owned by Joe Scudlarek. He also owned the Liquor Store next to the Shavers store at 42nd and Grover. The Redman location later became Hal’s House of Bottles. Owned by Hal Murray and later by his brother, Jim. My late mother, Ona Shepherd, managed that store for over 20 years. And I worked there part time in the late 1970s. There was also a Laundromat on the end of the North Section of the L shaped complex. On the SW corner of 42nd and Redman, to the East of Seig Drugs, where the Day Care is now, was originally a small family grocery as well, named Corbinos Grocery. Thanks for the memories.
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Loved reading everybody’s comments
On Thu, Aug 18, 2022 at 8:49 PM North Omaha History < email@example.com> wrote:
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Kevin, My mom Geraldine Andersen worked full-time at the liquor store as well. Not to split hairs, but the name was Skudlarek’s, Joe also had a location at 60th and Hartman. There was a Dry cleaners on the East side between the Liquor store and the laundromat. Once the Dairy Queen closed, a good friend of mines, mother, opened the store back up as a Mexican restaurant called Tortilla Flats. There was a Gas station in front of Shavers that I believe was a Vickers gas station, it was gas only. The building that housed Seig Drug and Corbinos, also had a Barber shop that was run by the Talarico family, there was also a Shoe Repair and DR.’s office on the South side of that same building near Wilsons lounge front door.It was a vibrant community that I was very lucky to have grown up in!! Thanks for reviving those memories!