East Omaha History Tour

The region of Omaha north of downtown, east of North 14th Street and Florence Boulevard and bordered by the Missouri River is one of the most historically relevant areas in the entire city. However, because of its continuous transformations, its hard to understand how important its been. This is tour of all of Omaha within those boundaries.

Self-Guided East Omaha History Tour

  1. Sherman Elementary School, 5618 North 14th Avenue, Omaha, NE 68110—Built in 1923, the school continues today.
  2. Former St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church, 1503 Ogden Avenue, Omaha, NE 68110—Built in 1921, the congregation closed in the 1990s. The building still stands.
  3. Nite Hawks Cafe, 4825 North 16th Street—Opened in 1942 in a two-story building with apartments on the second floor, the current building was constructed in 1966.
  4. Florence Lake, 520 Hartman Avenue, Omaha, NE 68110—Early country roadhouses and taverns were located here in the 1860s, with housing developments starting in the 1880s. The lake was drained in 1920, any related buildings were demolished, and there is only a remnant swill pond is left today.
  5. Bungalow City, 1514 East Carter Lake Boulevard, Omaha, NE 68110—Located on the northeast corner of Carter Lake at the intersection of East Carter Lake Boulevard and Abbott Drive, there was a small informal cluster of summer cottages here from the 1880s through 1910. That year, all of the houses were moved either to the town of Carter Lake or to the neighborhood just north of Levi Carter Park.
  6. Edgewood Park, North 9th Avenue and Fort Street, Omaha, NE 68110—The Edgewood Park was represented by Black real estate agents for Black homebuyers starting in 1910. However, few homes were sold and in the 1920s it was replatted as the Carter Lake View and Lakewood Gardens Addition, among others.
  7. Pulitzer Air Field, 7151 North 16th Street, Omaha, NE 68112—Located on a large farm, starting in 1921 this was one of the first airports in Omaha.
  8. Truck Farms, Lindenburgh Plaza Omaha, NE 68110—From the town of East Omaha to J.J. Pershing Drive, this area was filled with small farms and large gardens kept by hundreds of farmers from the 1860s through the 1930s.
  9. Eppley Airfield, 4501 Abbott Drive, Omaha, NE 68110—The new Eppley Airfield terminal opened at this location in the 1960s. The airport continues operating today.
  10. Omaha Municipal Airport, 3737 Orville Plaza, Omaha, NE 68110—This was the original location of today’s Eppley Airfield. Opened in 1925, it was called the American Legion Municipal Airport for several years. There is no sign of the original terminal building or air traffic control tower today.
  11. Illinois Central Railroad East Omaha Bridge, Avenue G and North 25th Street East, Omaha, NE 68110—Built in 1893, the bridge was stranded by the river in 1901, reopened in 1904, rebuilt in 1908, and closed permanently in 1980. It still stands.
  12. Site of Pershing School, 3009 North 28th Street East, Omaha, NE 68110—Built in 1926, Pershing School was open until 1976 and demolished in 1977. There is no sign of it today.
  13. Site of East Side Presbyterian Church, 2304 Avenue K, Omaha, NE 68110—Opened in 1928, the East Omaha Church closed in 1975.
  14. East Omaha Industrial District, 2501 North 21st St East, Omaha, NE 68110—A group of large factories were located here from the late 1870s through the 1940s. Some historic industrial operations are still located here, including the Omaha Box Company.
  15. Harold’s Market, 2107 East Locust Avenue, Omaha, NE 68110—Opened in 1938, this building still stands. The store closed in the 1990s. The building still stands.
  16. Carter Lake, Omaha, NE 68110—Formed by flooding in 1877 and expanded by flooding in 1881, the lake was vital to East Omaha’s existence.
  17. Site of Courtland Beach, North 9th and Avenue Q, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Also known as the Omaha Rod and Gun Club and the Carter Lake Club, this was the most popular tourist destination in the early history of Omaha.
  18. Site of the Courtland Beach Pavilion, 213 Carter Lake Club, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Also known as the Carter Lake Ballroom, this building was originally constructed in 1895. It was reconstructed in the 1950s, and demolished in 1992. There is no sign of it today.
  19. Site of Lakeview Park, North 17th and Avenue Q, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Site of a large amusement park, including a rollercoaster, dance hall and more. There is no sign of it today.
  20. Sand Point Beach, North 17th and Sand Point Drive, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Located within Lakeview Park, this was a popular swim area including changing rooms, picnic pavilions and more. There is no sign of it today.
  21. Site of Ames Avenue Bridge, Ames Avenue and Carter Lake Shore Drive West—Spanning the lake from Ames Avenue on the west to Avenue R on the east, this belonged to the Illinois Central Railroad. It was destroyed by the 1913 Easter Sunday tornado. In Iowa, it connected at the present-day Wavecrest Park. Also called the Carter Lake Fishing Pier and Boat Launch, the present-day pier was reconstructed from the former landing area from the bridge by the CCC in 1935. There is no sign of the bridge today.
  22. Carter Lake Boathouse, 4301 Carter Lake Shore Drive West—Originally built in 1936 by the CCC at Carter Lake, it was rebuilt in the 1990s by the City of Omaha. The building still stands today.
  23. Carter Lake Bathhouse, 4500 Carter Lake Shore Drive West—These buildings were built in the 1930s to replace structures originally built in the 1920s. They were renovated by the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Department in 2016, and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They still stand today.
  24. Carter Lake Improvement Club, 4328 North 9th Street, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Founded in 1947, the club works for the continuing improvement of the City and lake. The building still stands today.
  25. Site of Chez Paree, 510 East Locust Street, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Blackjack, craps, and roulette were played openly, along with some of the best live acts of the era in this nightclub. It was reputed to be the biggest casino between Chicago and Reno, and was located in two different places. Go to Abbott Drive and Locust Street to the see the first location. The second location stands today.
  26. Site of Courtland School, 3030 North 9th Street, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Open in 1929, this school operated until 1966, when it was renamed and rebuilt as the Carter Lake Elementary School. The first building became the Carter Lake Community Church. The original building is gone and there is no sign of it today.
  27. Site of the Carter Lake Race Track, 501 Key Circle, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Also called the Omaha Auto Speedway, this track was only open a few years, but left a remarkable mark in the city’s memory. There is no sign of it today.
  28. Watson Park, 4400 North 9th Street, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—In addition to serving as a member of the Iowa Senate, De Vere Watson was the city attorney for Carter Lake and a special city attorney for Council Bluffs. The park continues today.
  29. Neptune Park, 1501 Neptune Circle, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—The Neptune Park Addition was a much-hyped development that, starting in 1914, added dozens of homes to Carter Lake, and this beautiful park. The park continues today.
  30. Mabrey Park, 1534 Willow Drive, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Wilson Mabrey was the mayor of Carter Lake for more than 40 years. The park continues today.
  31. Wavecrest Park, 112 Shoreline Drive, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510—Platted in 1914, the Wavecrest Addition added dozens of homes to Carter Lake. The park continues today.
  32. North 16th Street, from Commercial Avenue to the Missouri River, Omaha, NE 68110—Opened as a country road in the 1850s, this street continues its use today.
  33. Locust Street, from North 16th Street to the Airport Drive, Omaha, NE 68110—Extending from N. 16th, across the Locust Street viaduct and all the way to the Missouri River, this street carried the first massive traffic in the city to Courtland Beach via streetcars. Opened as a country road in the 1850s, this street continues its use today.
  34. Storz Expressway, from Florence Boulevard to Abbott Drive, Omaha, NE 68110—Opened as a high speed connector in the 1990s, this expressway continues its use today.
  35. Abbott Drive, from Nicholas Street to Storz Expressway, Omaha, NE 68110—Opened as a roadway to the airport in the 1950s, this street continues its use today.
  36. J.J. Pershing Drive, from Abbott Drive to Read Street, Omaha, NE 68110—Opened as part of the original River Drive in the 1920s, this street continues its use today.
  37. Sulphur Springs, 1110 Locust Street, Omaha, NE 68110—Starting in the 1850s, this was a riverboat loading and warehousing area for the nearby town of Saratoga. It was ended in 1877 when flooding cut-off the present-day Carter Lake from the Missouri River.
  38. Illinois Central Roundhouse, 301 Carter Lake Shore Drive, Omaha, NE 68110—Built in the 1890s, this roundhouse served until it was demolished in 1913 by a tornado. There is no sign of it today.
  39. Missouri Pacific Roundhouse, —201 Carter Lake Shore Drive, Omaha, NE 68110—Built around 1900, this roundhouse served until it was demolished in 1913 by a tornado. It was rebuilt and continued serving into the 1950s when it was demolished. There is no sign of it today.
  40. Locust Street Viaduct, 1415 Locust St, Omaha, NE 68110—Built in 1910, this viaduct carried traffic including streetcars and automobiles from North 16th Street over several railroad tracks to Carter Lake. It was demolished in the 1990s.

There are many more historic sites in East Omaha than what’s listed here. What should I add? Please leave your thoughts, ideas and anything else in the comments!

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  1. The Harold’s Market building that still stands in East Omaha was not built in 1938. That site was occupied by Clausen’s Grocery when I was growing up blocks from there. Clausens was a frame ninteenth century building operated by an elderly couple (Mr and Mrs Clausin) who always came out from a back room when they heard a customer enter. They sold only a few grocery items. I was there many times in the mid forties and early fifties, to buy kerosene for my mothers kitchen stove. The kerosene was in a large square tank with a hand pump on the top. Mr Clausen would take my glass jug and pump it full for me. I was 10 or 11 and the tank was almost as tall as I was. The floor was wooden and stained with kerosene around it’s base.

    Liked by 1 person

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