Facts

Here is a collection of interesting facts I’ve collected about North Omaha people, places, events, and more. If you share or use any of these, add a link so other people can learn about them too. Thanks! Oh, and feel free share your facts with me in the comments below.

Interesting Facts About North Omaha

Did You Know…

  1. …North Omaha’s roots were established in the fur trade of the early 1800s?
  2. …a famous German adventurer named Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied stayed in North Omaha in the 1820s?
  3. Miller Park was once called the “Pride of North Omaha”?
  4. …in 1847, Cutler Park was the name of the original Mormon settlement in North Omaha?
  5. …white people mercilessly rioted through North Omaha’s black neighborhoods in 1910 when African American boxer Jack Johnson easily defeated a white contender?
  6. …that Kellom Elementary School is the alma mater of Fred Astaire, Gayle Sayers and Bob Gibson, as well as youth programs once led by Whitney Young?
  7. …the Notre Dame Academy and Convent in Florence was built for a group of Czech Sisters who came to Omaha in 1908 to teach Czech culture and language after local Catholic leaders requested them?
  8. …florence Field was a military balloon training grounds associated with Fort Omaha that was located off 30th and Martin Streets in the 1910s?
  9. …opened in 1912, Miller Park has one of the oldest golf courses in Omaha?
  10. …there was a school built in North Omaha that was once called “a school for tinkerers”?
  11. …there wasn’t one, but two amusement parks at Carter Lake between the 1890s and 1960s?
  12. …a notorious madame had a six foot deep concrete slab poured over her grave in 1911 so Omaha’s wealthy wouldn’t have her dug up and moved from North Omaha’s Prospect Hill Cemetery?
  13. …opened in 1860, Saratoga Elementary School is one of the oldest schools in Omaha?
  14. …between 1890 and 1919, at least two African American men were lynched in Omaha?
  15.  …there was a popular race track in North Omaha where Wild Bill Hickok rehearsed his Wild West Show in 1883?
  16. …in 1909, the Broomfield Rowhouse at 25th and Lake Streets was designed for a Good Housekeeping magazine competition?
  17. …the Fair Deal Cafe served as the “Black City Hall” of Omaha for almost 50 years?
  18. …there are almost 50 articles on Wikipedia about North Omaha’s history?
  19. …North 16th Street, also called Sherman Avenue, used to have country estates and plush apartment buildings lining the way north?
  20. …African Americans, Latinos, Irish and others have been constantly discriminated against throughout the city of Omaha’s history?
  21. …the largest crowd in North Omaha’s history might have been the 80,000 spectators reported to attend a fireworks display in Fontenelle Park in 1925?
  22. …that in the 1920s, N. 24th Street was once called Omaha’s “Street of Dreams”?
  23. …there were four major riots in North Omaha in the 1960s?
  24. …an amusement park on Carter Lake is so forgotten by history that it is not noted in any of the many, many catalogs of amusement park history?
  25. …the Omaha Star building housed the DePorres Club after they were asked to leave Creighton University because of their civil rights activism in the 1960s?
  26. …there were at least eight schools in North Omaha that were kept segregated through the 1950s when the city was forced to integrate its schools?
  27. …In the 1860s, a group of Irish settlers once lived in dugout burrows in an area called Gophertown, located roughly where Miller Park is today?
  28. …that North Omaha’s Lloyd Hunter played trumpet and led a big band for 38 years, and was only recorded once by the race record label Vocalion?
  29. …the anti-historical building rampage that led the city to destroy hundreds of houses throughout North Omaha from the 1960s through today included a beautiful sandstone building in Florence in 1970?
  30. …in the 1890s, Florence Boulevard was called “the only suitable driveway in the city”?
  31. …Dr. George Miller, the namesake of Miller Park and Miller Park Elementary, was called a “raving maniac” by a local newspaper?
  32. …at one point, the Miller Park neighborhood had at least three grocery stores and 4 gas stations, a florist, dry cleaner, pharmacist, and dozens of other small businesses?
  33. …the first Ferris Wheel in the Omaha area was opened on Carter Lake in the 1890s?
  34. …by 1900, there were so many Swedes in North Omaha that people started calling their neighborhood “Little Stockholm”? It was from N. 21st to N. 18th, from Cass to Cumming Streets.
  35. …that in 1884, Matthew Ricketts became the first African-American to graduate from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine? In 1892 he became the first African-American to be elected to the Nebraska Legislature.
  36. …that the Nebraska School for the Deaf along Fontenelle Blvd. was nationally known within the Deaf community for its fight against an anti-American Sign Language state bill endorsed by Alexander Graham Bell?
  37. …that the only integrated, all-female big band in the United States, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, was led by Anna Mae Winburn out of North Omaha in the 1940s?
  38. …by the 1950s, race restrictive housing covenants and redlining by white people kept the Logan Fontenelle Housing Project racially segregated on purpose?
  39. …a 1960s youth-led activism campaign in Omaha called BANTU was under observation by the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations?
  40. …longtime North Omaha state senator Ernie Chamber was virtually the star of the Oscar-nominated 1966 documentary, A Time for Burning?
  41. …a 1994 NTV special called A Street of Dreams focused on the history of the Near North Side and N. 24th Street? 
  42. …North Omaha’s architect, Cap Wigington, entered and won national competitions frequently when he didn’t have a work to design a building?
  43. …the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Nebraska have been own of three fraternal organizations to own Druid Hall, a quintessential North Omaha social hall built in 1915?
  44. …that Fort Omaha was abandoned by the U.S. Army no fewer than six times until Metro Community College took it over in the 1970s?
  45. …the lynching of Will Brown was the second recorded event of its kind in Omaha history?
  46. …North Omaha had at least three streetcar barns throughout its history?
  47. …Omaha has a history of African American politics extending to the founding of the city?
  48. …there are more than 20 styles represented in North Omaha’s architecture?
  49. …East Omaha and Miller Park were among the 25+ sites considered for the Trans-Mississippi Exposition of 1898?
  50. …the oldest house in North Omaha was built in 1846, before the City of Omaha existed?
  51. UNO, the University of Nebraska – Omaha, was originally founded and built in North Omaha?
  52. redlining in Omaha was a formal and informal practice that prevented African Americans from buying or renting outside an area determined by the federal government, insurance agents, real estate agents and banks?
  53. …the Logan Fontenelle Housing Project was opened in 1938 and demolished in 1995?
  54. …the murder of an unarmed 14-year-old girl by an Omaha police officer touched off days of rioting and nearly destroyed North Omaha’s commercial infrastructure?
  55. …Omaha’s civil rights movement was very active before the national movement?
  56. …one of the nation’s leading religiously-affiliated hospitals was in North Omaha for 75 years?
  57. …the Viking Ship had two other names before it became an homage to North High?
  58. …the original AKSARBEN public facility was located in North Omaha?
  59. …over the last century, North Omaha has been home to at least 20 movie theaters?
  60. …Swedes were responsible for founding at least three hospitals in North Omaha’s history?
  61. …North Omaha was home to not ONE, but TWO expositions?
  62. …the Jewish community in North Omaha had several synagogues, an old folks home, a hospital, and dozens of businesses throughout the area?
  63. …businesses, social halls, churches, and dozens of other institutions were started in the Near North Side Neighborhood and served African Americans, Jews, and before them, immigrants from across Europe, including Scandinavians, Italians, and others.
  64. …the Mayne-Redick Mansion was moved piece-by-piece to Minnesota to become a resort?
  65. …in 1905, Swedish doctors opened a new hospital along N. 24th in the 1876 mansion of John McCreary?
  66. …J. J. Brown’s 1870 mansion on N. 16th was repurposed as a hospital after the turn of the century?
  67. …the estate of pioneer Omaha lawyer A. J. Poppleton was located on N. 16th?
  68. Binney Street has dozens of beautiful old houses between N. 14th and the North Freeway?
  69. …the Omaha Colored Commercial Club sought to employ Blacks, promote Black businesses and act as an ex-officio hiring agency for Omaha’s Black community?
  70. …examples of racism happen in the Omaha area are documented back to 1804?
  71. …Nebraska’s first legal execution happened in the North Omaha area?
  72. …there are at least a half dozens real reasons to be concerned about Hummel Park that don’t include Satan worshipping, ghosts, or albinos?
  73. …at the turn of the 20th century, a ghost haunted a restaurant in the Carter Lake neighborhood?
  74. …in 1874, a ghost was widely reported in one of Omaha’s most popular cemeteries?
  75. …at least two neighborhoods in North Omaha were built on top of old cemeteries?
  76. …there were tunnels for transporting patients, utilities, and other things under the Immanuel Deaconess Institute?
  77. …Fort Omaha had more than a dozen deaths over its 125 years of history as a military institution?
  78. …the caretaker of Omaha’s Prospect Hill Cemetery and his gravedigger were taken to court for illegally digging up the dead?
  79. …beer brewing in the North Omaha area began when the city of Omaha was founded?
  80. …there were a half dozen Black hotels in Omaha?
  81. …North Omaha’s Lake Street was named for an early judge in the city?
  82. …Father Flanagan asked North Omaha’s Dan Desdunes to lead a band at the school that traveled around the country raising money for the future Boy’s Town?
  83. …the City of Omaha intentionally built the Kellom Pool to be integrated in order to keep the rest of the city’s swimming pools segregated?
  84. …the Nebraska School for the Deaf became the first such institution to win a state basketball championship against regular public school teams?
  85. …a major fecal contamination flowed through the Walnut Hill Reservoir, forcing the City of Omaha to update their water cleaning process?

One thought on “Facts

  1. Did you know that Clarence 'Cap' Wigington was Omaha's First African-American Architect? Trained by Omaha-based Architect Thomas Kimball (St. Cecilia's Cathedral) he apprenticed for Kimball for 6 years then started his own firm. The Broomfield & Crutchfield Row House(s) located on N. 25th & Lake Streets was a 'Good Housekeeping' Magazine 1st place contest winner Wigington designed in 1909.

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