Omaha has always been a good place to die.
Starting in the 1840s when the first trails were cut through the area, people were laid to rest all across the city. With cemeteries scattered across North Omaha, it made sense for a stonecutter to make his work in the community.
Tucked away in North Omaha is a historic neighborhood that gets little attention. However, the people who’ve lived there have vibrant memories and meaningful stories that lasted a lifetime. The Central Park neighborhood extends from North 33rd to North 48th Streets, from Ames Avenue to Sorenson Parkway. Located west of the town of Saratoga, it was never an incorporated town like its neighbors in Irvington or Benson. A lot of the oral histories of the area talked about it being a rural community, surrounded by farms and fields, orchards and more. Rising from cornfields and hills, the Central Park neighborhood has a long history starting in the 1880s. Here are details I could find about the neighborhood.
In a time of mobland gangsters, illegal booze, dirty gambling halls and open prostitution, several African Americans rose high enough in Omaha’s criminal underworld to become the crime lords of North Omaha.
Starting in 1905, the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, also called the black Elks, met in North Omaha. They were determined to help foster positive social connections, build community and foster growth within Omaha’s African American community. Almost 100 years later, it keeps going.
North Omaha is screaming full of history, and the new 24th and Lake Historic District is a tremendous example of how that’s so. After its first developments in the 1870s, this intersection evolved to become a hotbed of the African American community; as well as the heart of the Jewish community; a farm supply area; and much, much more. In 2016, 38 buildings were included in a new listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This article is an introduction to the powerful, poignant past of a large jewel in North Omaha’s historical crown.
“Proud, powerful and transforming.” Asked to think of words to describe the Minne Lusa neighborhood, these came to my mind immediately. I was sitting with a friend in Omaha recently, talking about the changes in North O, and they asked me what I thought of it. I easily remembered summers riding bikes up and down Minne Lusa Boulevard, going to the Viking Ship regularly, eating ice cream and buying cassette tapes at Four Aces Pawn Shop. Even as a kid, I thought the neighborhood was special, with its giant houses on the boulevard and polite houses up and down the blocks, all with an overall feeling of respectful suburbanity. The following is a short history of the neighborhood that I write out of admiration for Minne Lusa’s beauty, my memories, and the people who fill the homes today.
North Omaha’s African American culture has grown and changed dramatically since its founding in 1854. One of the main drivers of the culture for more than a century has been the Black media. From the time Omaha’s first Black newspaper was published in 1889 through Shanelle Williams’ continued use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media today to build the African American community in Omaha, Black media has continued to transform the North Omaha community and the city at large.
The Mormon Tree, also called the Brigham Young Tree, has loomed over my studies of Florence history for a decade now. I’ve seen mentions of it in old newspapers and heard stories about it from older people. However, I couldn’t find anything about it all this time. Until last month. Finally, after all these years, I wrote the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters to ask about the Mormon Tree.
The Long School neighborhood is located in North Omaha from Hamilton Street on the south to Erskine on the North; North 24th on the east and the North Freeway on the west, and it has a total of 30 blocks. Houses started getting built in the neighborhood as early as the 1860s. However, it wasn’t until Long School was built that things really got underway. This is a history of the neighborhood.
Immediately after World War II, there was a rush of soldiers flush with government money that allowed them to buy homes and build families right away. A lot of North Omaha finished in-filling during this period, with houses constructed in just a few months and selling a lot quicker than that. Spread across a few streets in the Miller Park neighborhood, one set of these homes created an architecturally distinct area that should be designated as a historic district and preserved quickly.
Judges, teachers, decorated veterans, actors and singers, an Olympian and a Heisman Trophy winner are among its alumni. This is a short history of Omaha Technical High School.
Mobs have terrorized Omaha since the city was founded in 1854. Defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims,” terrorism was been the weapon of Omaha’s mobs from the beginning. Early on, they were seemingly concerned with horse thieves, claim jumping and break-ins. In more recent times, mobs attacked people in Omaha because of their race and ethnicities. 50 years ago, mobs lashed out at businesses. Notably, there haven’t been any mob terror trials, monuments, or other acknowledgments of the acts of the masses in Omaha throughout its 160+ years of existence.
For more than 15 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has been fighting lead poisoning in North Omaha as part of a citywide environmental cleanup focused on the 27-square-miles east of 72nd Street.
A history of the Ernie Chambers Court aka Strehlow Terrace Apartments in North Omaha, Nebraska.
Did you know that North Omaha has at least eight historic cemeteries? Serving religious and ethnic populations as well as the general public, these are the final resting places of thousands of people from the 1840s through today.
Now seen as the front door to Omaha, Cuming Street has also served as the city’s farthest edge; as the growing, mighty muscles of industry and business; and as its dirty, neglected backside. This article highlights the history of Cuming Street, from its beginnings through to present day.
More than 65 years ago, a newspaper was launched to serve Omaha’s African American community. Coming from a legacy of several Black newspapers before it, the paper was launched by the visionary Mildred Brown and her husband Ed Gilbert. Losing its direct competitors within a decade, The Omaha Star became the city’s Civil Rights media champion, refusing to print negative news and constantly focusing on keeping it positive. The original banner was “Joy and Happiness”, and the only told good news.
These are historic neighborhoods in North Omaha, including their establishment, locations and links.
A history of the Belvedere neighborhood in North Omaha, Nebraska.
The Miller Park in North Omaha has a long history. There is no single right way to write about it, and if, after you’re done reading this entire article, you disagree with the way I’ve written this history, I invite you to write your own version. To start with, it is important to […]
The original town of East Omaha was south of the present-day Eppley Airport, west of Abbott Drive, and north of the river. It was known known as East Omaha and was claimed by Edmond Jeffries in 1853. That was a year before the so-called Indian Territory was opened to white settlement and a year before Omaha City was founded. The next year, it became Omaha’s first annexation, brought into the city in 1854.
The N. 16th and Locust Street intersection was a beehive of commercial activity for more than a century. The Locust overpass of the MoPac Railroad was a key. Learn more.
In its first 75 years, North Omaha was home to no fewer than four Jewish synagogues, six Catholic parishes and 50 Protestant congregations. These churches reflected the community’s diversity, including ethnic churches where only Italian, German, Norwegian, Danish and other languages were spoke. Within 25 years of Omaha’s founding, there were also several Black churches in the neighborhood north of downtown. Following is a history of churches in North Omaha.
This is the story of the Florence-area country escape of the Brandies family called Arlena Lodge…
The history of Florence begins with the tangled clopping of horse hooves and rattling of the sideboards on beat up wagons. The story of the town begins with people leaving, people coming back, a town booming, a town shrinking, and then getting annexed into Omaha and calming down. It’s a story that’s still being written every day, and lately things are on the up and up!
This is the original Poor Clares Monastery built in 1904. It still stands at N. 29th and Hamilton Streets. Located in the middle of the hustle and bustle is a spectacularly beautiful, formerly consecrated rental facility that few people in the entire city know about. For more than a century there was a monastery […]
With the old country ties in mind, one lawyer in Omaha took it upon himself to bring some fellow Irishmen back to Omaha to stump for “Cowboy” Jim Dahlman, Omaha’s corrupt longtime mayor who was controlled by local boss Tom Dennison. Did his tireless campaigning get him a seat in the Nebraska State Legislature? Was there dirty money involved in building his palatial home?
The Walnut Hill neighborhood is one of the most historically distinguished in North Omaha.
Located immediately north of Mercer Park, the Walnut Hill Reservoir is bound by Hamilton Street and the Walnut Hill neighborhood on the west, North 38th Street on the east, Nicholas Street on the south, and Mercer Park Drive on the east. Walnut Hill is cut in half by the curvy Park Road, which extends from Mercer Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard. “Walnut Hill Reservoir” is chiseled into a concrete panel between the steps at North 38th Street.
Built in 1915, the Broadview Hotel at 2060 Florence Boulevard operated for several decades. Much the same as today, Omaha was culturally segregated in the early 20th century. That included its hotels. Spectacular stories about wonderful early hotels didn’t include African Americans. Places like the Grand Central Hotel, the Cozzens Hotel, the Herndon House, and […]
Before Gottlieb Storz, a few other entrepreneurs tried their hand at brewing beer in North Omaha. Afterwards though, Storz dominated. For more than 75 years, his family ran Omaha’s beer industry, and even though the brewery closed in the 1970s, it left a major mark on the city that still stands today. This is a […]
The Gas Bag was the official newspaper of Fort Omaha in 1919.Fort Omaha was opened in 1878. Home to thousands of US Army troops over a century of service, many people lived and died at the Fort. Today, some of the buildings that still survive on the campus include the General Crook House and the Commissary, both […]
In the 1870s, businessman John McCreary built a fine Italianate mansion in present-day North Omaha. Here’s a history.
As far as I’m concerned, the history of Omaha’s Near North Side neighborhood is the richest in all of Omaha. It has been home to working class families, poor people, and the wealthy; northern Europeans, African Americans, and eastern Europeans; Lutherans and Catholics, Jews and Black Muslims; slums, family homes, and mansions; looked like a pioneer town, had country gentleman farms, been a suburb, and had slums; professional offices, warehouses, manufacturing plants, local storefronts, printing presses, training centers, supermarkets and pop-up shops; giant churches and synagogues, and tiny storefront temples and more. So much has happened here, and clearly its story is still being written…
The Jewish people in North Omaha were tied together with the establishment and growth of the community for a century…
OMAHANS HAVE BEEN MISINFORMED! We like history. We want to be proud of the past. Sometimes, in order to be proud, we intentionally forget, ignore, or otherwise let go of the parts of the past that we’re not proud of. For years, the people of Omaha have been told that all of the buildings […]
Nestled between the Miller Park neighborhood and Sorenson Parkway is a 150 year old institution that’s been a powerhouse, a prison, a balloon school and a neglected surplus, and many other things. This is a short history of Fort Omaha. A group of officers at Fort Omaha in 1918. My Story As a whole, Fort […]
The Presbyterians were one of the congregations that grew along with Omaha. Arriving soon after the city’s founders, the first Presbyterian church in Omaha was opened in 1856. Over the next 25 years, more than 100 Presbyterian churches were founded in towns and cities across Nebraska. Their buildings became institutions for the faithful, for their communities and for the culture of the state. However, educating enough pastors to lead these flocks was becoming a challenge.
Suburbs need social clubs, and social clubs need swingin’ good fun! North Omaha’s Viking Ship was that place for more than 50 years before turning into a quasi-community center. Here’s the history of the Viking Ship, aka Birchwood Club aka The Prettiest Mile Club. Introduction 2582 Redick Avenue through the years: 1916 […]