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Omaha: Recreation

Omaha: Recreation

Sightseeing

Omaha received national attention when the Hollywood movie Boys Town, starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney, was released in 1938. Today Tracy's Academy Award Oscar is on display in the Hall of History Museum on the Boys Town campus. The Hall traces the history of the country's most famous institution for the care of homeless children, presenting exhibits on the history of juvenile delinquency and of social programs designed to address it.

The PhilaMatic Museum exhibits stamp, coin, and currency collections for the hobbyist. General Crook House, a restored Victorian house on the grounds of Ft. Omaha, was the home of General George Crook, head of the Army of the Platte, who gained fame for his testimony in the trial of Chief Standing Bear. The Gerald Ford Birthplace, an outdoor park and rose garden, contains a replica of the home where former President Ford was born as well as memorabilia from his White House years and is often used for weddings.

The U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command Museum, located in nearby Mahoney State Park, charts the history of the United States Air Force in indoor and outdoor exhibits; the $29.5 million museum displays 31 vintage and modern airplanes year round. The Henry Doorly Zoo has been ranked the country's number one zoo by Family magazine and attracts about 1.6 million visitors annually. Species include rare white Siberian tigers. The zoo's aviary is the second largest in the world with 500 exotic species, and its indoor rain forest is the world's largest. The Lied Jungle at the zoo, winner of Time magazine's 1992 design award, was described by the magazine as "architecturally stupendous . . . and zoologically thrilling." It features a half-mile maze of trails offering views of exotica such as Malayan tapirs and pygmy hippos in an authentic rain forest atmosphere. In 2002 an indoor desert, the world's largest, was constructed and features plant and animal life from deserts in Africa, Australia, and the United States. The Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom wildlife pavilion presents the theme of animal adaptation for survival. Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium, the only aquarium between Chicago and the West Coast, is open year-round and exhibits 50 species of fresh-water fish.

The Mutual of Omaha Dome exhibits memorabilia from the Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom" television program; the Dome is an underground facility topped by a large glass dome. Completely redesigned, the Union Pacific Historical Museum at the Union Pacific Railroad's headquarters building traces the history of the company's railroad.

Twenty-five miles north of Omaha, the 7,800-acre DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge offers opportunities in the spring and fall to view thousands of migrating birds that use the Missouri Valley flyway for their seasonal migration. Fontenelle Forest in North Bellevue is a 1,300-acre sylvan area within the city. Peony Park, Nebraska's largest amusement park, combines amusement park rides, shows in an outdoor amphitheater, and the state's largest swimming pool.

Arts and Culture

Omaha Community Playhouse, founded in 1924, is one of the nation's largest and most recognized community theaterswhose alumni include Henry Fonda and Dorothy McGuireand schedules year-round productions. Main-stage productions as well as studio and experimental theater are presented in what is physically the largest amateur theater facility in the country. Omaha Theater Company for Young People is a professional company offering original adaptations of classic children's literature. At Diner Theater, original drama written by an Omaha native is produced in a real diner.

The Omaha Symphony plays a season of classical, pop, and chamber music; and Opera Omaha sponsors three productions annually. Incorporated in 2000, the Omaha Chamber Music Society performs a summer concert series along with monthly "Music at Midday" concerts. The Tuesday Musical Concert Series brings internationally-known classical musicians to the Holland Performing Arts Center.

The Joslyn Art Museum, built in 1931 in honor of business leader George Joslyn, is an Art Deco facility on three levels that houses a permanent collection emphasizing European, American, and Western art. The Durham Western Heritage Museum is housed in the restored Union Station depot. The museum charts the city's history from pioneer days to the 1950s and features a vintage soda fountain manned by volunteer soda jerks. The Great Plains Black History Museum chronicles the contributions and achievements of African Americans in the Midwest. Designed for children to interact with the exhibits, the Omaha Children's Museum features art projects that complement the displays. John Raimondi's Dance of the Cranes at Eppley Airfield, the largest bronze sculpture in North America, is a five-story, 15-ton sculpture depicting sandhill cranes in a ritual dance.

Festivals and Holidays

Omaha sponsors festivals and special indoor and outdoor events year round. The major cultural institutions of the city host many of these festivals in honor of the city's heritage. During the second weekend in February a softball tournament held throughout the city raises money for the March of Dimes. In mid-March Triumph of Agriculture Exposition, one of the largest farm equipment shows in the world, draws participants to the Qwest Convention Center.

Nearly 200 artists and crafters are featured at the Summer Arts Festival, held at the Gene Leahy Mall for three days in late June. The Nebraska Shakespeare Festival is presented outdoors in Elmwood Park on weekends through June and July. In August the Offutt Air Force Base open house and air show enjoys the participation of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. The Omaha Federation of Labor sponsors Septemberfest in honor of Omaha's working men and women over Labor Day weekend at the Qwest Center. This is also when La Festa Italiana brings music, dance, and food to a celebration at Roncalli High School.

Ak-Sar-Ben Rodeo and Livestock Exposition in October is the world's largest 4-H livestock show; the rodeo attracts the nation's top rodeo competitors. Dickens in the Market takes place the first weekend in December at Old Market and features costumed entertainers performing holiday music and vignettes of Charles Dickens' novels.

Sports for the Spectator

Omaha hosts the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College baseball World Series each June at Rosenblatt Stadium. The Omaha Golden Spikes, the Triple-A farm team of professional baseball's American League Kansas City Royals, compete in the International League and play their home season at Rosenblatt Stadium. Bluffs Run in Council Bluffs offers greyhound dog racing with individual televisions in the clubhouse for viewing each race.

Late-model stock car racing takes place at Little Sunset Speed-way at the I-80 Speedway from May through October. College sports are played by the Creighton Bluejays and the University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks; the Mavericks rank high among the nation's most competitive wrestling teams.

Sports for the Participant

The Omaha Parks and Recreation Department administers more than 200 city parks on 8,300 acres of land, 14 neighborhood recreation centers, and various recreational leagues. The most popular is the summer softball program; Omaha claims the title of "Softball Capital of the World" with 2,500 teams and 60 fields. The metropolitan area boasts 50 golf courses, 19 public pools along with several private pools, outdoor and indoor tennis courts, and facilities for hockey and ice skating. Three figure-skating clubs offer instruction. One downhill skiing facility operates in nearby Crescent, Iowa though the area's relative flatness lends well to cross-country skiing trails at Elmwood Park and N.P. Dodge Park.

Shopping and Dining

Omaha's Old Market in its earliest days was a warehouse district where pioneers purchased the goods they needed for the journey to the West. In 1968 Old Market began renovation, first converting to an artists colony; today it is a thriving shopping and restaurant district as well as a fruit and vegetable marketplace. A number of downtown locations have been renovated into malls as part of the revitalization of Omaha's downtown commercial district. The Crossroads Mall and Oak View Mall both house around 100 stores on about 875,000 square feet of shopping space. Omaha claims the largest retail jewelry store in the United States. Possibly the city's most visited store is the Nebraska Furniture Mart, which records the nation's largest volume of furniture sales.

Some of the best beefsteaks in the world are served in Omaha restaurants; the city is also noted for catfish caught in the Missouri River, and for Continental, French, East Indian, and Creole cuisine. Food and Wine magazine named Omaha's Le Cafe de Paris a "Distinguished Restaurant of North America." A local Chinese restaurant replicates Beijing's imperial palace. "Runza," a dough pocket filled with ground beef and cabbage, is a local specialty served at Runza Hut. Godfather's Pizza, one of the largest pizza chains in the country, originated in Omaha.

Visitor Information: Greater Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1001 Farnam St., Ste. 200, Omaha, NE 68102; telephone (402)444-4660; toll-free (866)937-6624; fax (402)444-4511

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Omaha: History

Omaha: History

Omaha Furthers Westward Expansion

The first people to live in the area surrounding present-day Omaha were the Otoe, Missouri, and Omaha tribes, who roamed and hunted along the Missouri River, which divides Iowa and Nebraska. The Mahas, a Nebraska plains tribe, lived where Omaha now stands. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, on their mission to chart the Louisiana Purchase, reached the future site of Omaha in the summer of 1804, and held council with Otoe and Missouri Native Americans. As early as the War of 1812, Manuel Lisa established a fur-trading post in the area.

Mormon pioneers set up camp in Florence, a small settlement north of Omaha, in the winter of 1846 to 1847. Six hundred residents died during that harsh winter, and the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery today contains a monument by sculptor Avard Fairbanks that marks the tragedy. Florence, later annexed by Omaha, served for years as a Mormon way station in the westward journey to Utah. Omaha served as the eastern terminus and outfitting center for pioneers headed to the west to find their fortune in the California gold fields or to settle available inexpensive land.

A rush for land officially began in the area on June 24, 1854, when a treaty with the Omaha Native Americans was concluded. The Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company, the town's founders, named the new town Omaha, from the Maha word meaning "above all others upon a stream" or "up-river people." When it seemed likely that a Pacific Railroad line was to be constructed out of Omaha, the new town was proposed as the site of the future state capital. The first territorial legislature did meet in Omaha on January 16, 1855. Omaha was incorporated in 1857, but Lincoln was designated the capital when Nebraska was admitted to the Union in 1867.

Rail Transport Establishes Omaha's Future

The city's early years were full of incidents that prompted the administering of so-called frontier justice, including lynchings, fist and gun fights, and an arbitration body calling itself the Claim Club. Ignoring Federal land laws in favor of local interpretations, the Claim Club even went so far as to construct a house on wheels that could be used to protect the claims of people in need of a home to retain possession of the land. The U.S. Supreme Court in later rulings decided not to go against land title disputes made during this colorful but lawless time.

The fortunes of Omaha took a positive turn when President Abraham Lincoln selected Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the terminus of the Pacific Railroad, which was subsequently relocated on Omaha's side of the Missouri River. Actual construction began in 1863, the first step in Omaha's development into one of the nation's largest railroad centers.

The historic trial that gave Native Americans their citizenship took place in Omaha and was decided by Judge Elmer Dundy of the U.S. District Court for Nebraska on May 12, 1879; the case is known as Standing Bear v. Crook. The Poncas, after accepting a reservation in southeastern South Dakota, decided to return to their homeland. Led by Chief Standing Bear, they were arrested by a detachment of guards sent by Brigadier General George Crook, commander of the Department of the Platte, who was based at Ft. Omaha. General Crook, a veteran fighter in the Indian campaigns, was nonetheless an advocate of fair treatment of Indians. He cooperated fully in the trial, and some evidence indicates he even instigated the suit. Thomas Henry Tibbles, an editor of the Omaha Daily Herald, publicized the case nationwide, focusing attention on Omaha and on the humanitarian sentiments of General Crook and Tibbles, who was an abolitionist-turned-journalist.

Meatpacking Industry Spurs New Growth

The establishment of the Union Stockyards and the great packing houses in the 1880s invigorated the Omaha economy and drew to the city immigrants from Southern Europe and an assortment of colorful individuals who figured prominently in the city's growth. After a flood in 1881, residents relocated to the other side of the Missouri River, triggering another real estate boom. Fifty-two brickyards were by that time in operation, producing more than 150 million bricks each year. Omaha's first skyscraper, the New York Life Insurance Building (renamed the Omaha Building in 1909), dates from this era.

The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben (Nebraska spelled backwards), Omaha's leading civic organization, was created in 1895 to promote the city; they organized the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in 1898, bringing more than one million people to a city of less than 100,000 in a year-long event. The Omaha Grain Exchange was established at the turn of the century, helping the city develop as a grain market. Agriculture has proved to be the city's economic base, augmented by insurance.

The Father Edward J. Flanagan founded Boys Town in the Omaha area in 1917 with 90 dollars he borrowed and with the philosophy that "there is no such thing as a bad boy." This internationally famous boys' home, which was incorporated as a village in 1936, is located west of the city and now provides a home for boys and girls alike. After World War II, Omaha native and aviation pioneer Arthur C. Storz, son of brewing giant Gottlieb Storz, lobbied to have Omaha designated the headquarters of the U.S. Air Force. Today, Omaha's Offutt Air Force Base serves as headquarters of the Strategic Command, or USSTRATCOM.

Telecommunications Replaces Meatpacking

During the 1980s, while other cities were trying to attract industries, Omaha began a highly successful campaign to attract telecommunications companies. Promoting advantages like cheap real estate, comparatively low wage and cost of living, and its educated and reliable work force, Omaha succeeded to the point that by 1991 its telecommunications jobs were more than twice the number of meatpacking jobs. Omaha is also home to several of the nation's largest telemarketers.

Downtown Growth in the 2000s

Omaha's community leaders have addressed the need for growth within the city by implementing a $2 billion downtown development plan including condominiums and town-houses along with considerable business growth. A new Hilton Hotel accompanies the expansive Qwest Center Omaha that opened in 2003. The commitment to Omaha's healthy business environment is reflected in several recognitions such as Expansion Management magazine's third-place ranking for "Best Place to Locate Your Company" in 2003 and its inclusion on Entrepreneur magazine's 20 best cities for small business.

Historical Information: Douglas County Historical Society Library/Archives Center, 5730 N. 30 St., #11B, Omaha, NE 68111-1657; telephone (402)451-1013; fax (402)453-9448; email archivist@omahahistory.org. Great Plains Black History Museum Library, 2213 Lake St., Omaha, NE 68111; telephone (402)345-2212

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Omaha: Economy

Omaha: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

There are more than 20,400 businesses located in the metropolitan statistical area, with total employment approaching 375,000. The city is home to five Fortune 500 companies: ConAgra, Peter Kiewit Sons, Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific, and Mutual of Omaha. More than 30 other Fortune 500 companies have manufacturing plants in the metropolitan area.

The headquarters of about 30 insurance companies call Omaha home. More than half of the two dozen telemarketing/direct response/reservation centers operating in Omaha also have their corporate headquarters located in the metropolitan area. Many other large firms have their headquarters in Omaha, including Lozier Corporation, First Data Corp, ITI Marketing Services, Omaha Steaks International, Pamida, Oriental Trading Company, Valmont Industries, Inc., and Godfather's Pizza, Inc.

The Omaha economy is well diversified, with no industry sector accounting for more than a third of total employment. Omaha's highest concentration of employment is in trade, transportation, and utilities with strong showings in education and health services as well as professional and business services. This is offset by a relatively smaller share of total employment in the manufacturing, construction and mining, and information sectors.

Items and goods produced: a variety of food items from raw products like meat and flour to finished consumer goods like frozen dinners and cereal; irrigation equipment; phone apparatus; store fixtures; hydraulic motors and pumps; paper boxes and packaging materials; furniture; computer components

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

Assisting in the expansion of new and existing business at the local level are the Small Business Council, the Omaha Small Business Network, Inc., and the Omaha Regional Minority Purchasing Council. Among other finance programs are community development block grants, improvement financing, industrial development revenue bonds, and a range of local and state tax credits.

State programs

In addition to receiving conventional financing from banks and other lending institutions, qualified Omaha businesses can take advantage of state and local programs. Among them are the Nebraska Business and Development Center and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which provide technical and research assistance. Invest Nebraska partners with the state of Nebraska along with other donations to introduce entrepreneurs to individual investors and venture capital firms. Federal and state programs include the Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Corporation, the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA), various Small Business Administration loans, the Nebraska Research and Development Authority, the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), and the Urban Development Action Grant.

The state of Nebraska has emphasized its commitment to revitalized economic growth in all parts of the state with a series of laws designed to make the state an even better place to do business. Firms can earn a series of tax credits and refunds for investment and new job creation through the provisions of the Employment and Investment Growth Act (LB 775), as well as the Employment Expansion and Investment Incentive Act (LB 270), the Enterprise Zone Act (LB 725), Quality Jobs Act (LB 829), Incentive Electric Rates (LB 828), and Nebraska Redevelopment Act (LB 830).

Development Projects

During the past decade, many development projects were successfully completed in Omaha. Work began in 1999 on a 33-block redevelopment area in downtown with a total investment of $2 billion. In 2003 the $291 million Qwest Center Omaha was constructed on the northeast edge of downtown Omaha that includes a 17,000-seat arena and a convention center highlighted by 194,000 square feet of exhibition space. In 2003 the Gallup Organization opened a $75 million campus for executive and management training. The spring of 2004 saw the debut of the $66 million, 450-room Hilton Hotel that is attached to the Qwest Center Omaha by an elevated walkway.

Economic Development Information: Economic Development Council, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, 1301 Harney St., Omaha, NE 68102; telephone (402)346-5905; toll-free (800)852-2622

Commercial Shipping

More than 144 million pounds of cargo passed through Eppley Airfield in 2004. An international point of entry with access to a Foreign Trade Zone, it is served by eight air freight carriers. The Union Pacific and several other major railroads provide freight service that is coordinated with many of the trucking companies serving the metropolitan area.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The Omaha labor force is described as highly productive, possessing an old-fashioned work ethic, and lacking a regional accent, so workers are considered excellent for the phone operations and high-technology jobs proliferating there. While unemployment has increased since 2000, there has been consistent growth in the overall labor force. However, the workforce does suffer from wage rates that are approximately 14 percent below the national average.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Omaha, Nebraska-Council Bluffs, Iowa metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 446,500

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 25,500

manufacturing: 32,900

trade, transportation, and utilities: 98,100

information: 13,500

financial activities: 37,200

professional and business services: 60,800

educational and health services: 62,300

leisure and hospitality: 40,500

other services: 16,300

government: 58,900

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $17.93

Unemployment rate: 5.0% (February 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
Offutt Air Force Base 10,500
Alegent Health 7,500
Omaha Public Schools 7,040
First Data Corp. 7,000
Methodist Health System 6,200
Nebraska Medical Center 5,300
Mutual of Omaha Insurance 4,600
Union Pacific Corporation 4,500
First National Bank 4,300
West Corporation 4,000

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Omaha area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $224,312

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 92.0 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Graduated from 2.56% to 6.84% (2004; rate set yearly by state legislature)

State sales tax rate: 5.5%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.5%

Property tax rate: $1.85460 to $2.39067 per $100 of assessed valuation (2004)

Economic Information: Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, 1301 Harney St., Omaha, NE 68102; telephone (402)346-5000; fax (402)346-7050; email info@omahachamber.org

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Omaha: Education and Research

Omaha: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Omaha Public Schools is the largest elementary and secondary public education system in Nebraska. A nonpartisan, twelve-member board of education appoints a superintendent.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Omaha public schools as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 46,035

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 63

middle schools: 11

high schools: 8

other: 5

Student/teacher ratio: 16:1

Teacher salaries average: $46,666

Funding per pupil: $7,293

An extensive parochial school system as well as a number of private schools provides complete curricula, including religious instruction, for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The most notable private institution is Boys Town, a residential facility founded in 1917 as the "city of little men" by Father Edward J. Flanagan.

Public Schools Information: Omaha Public Schools, 3215 Cuming St., Omaha, NE 68131-2024; telephone (402)557-2222

Colleges and Universities

The University of Nebraska at Omaha, with an enrollment of 14,000 students, awards graduate and undergraduate degrees in such fields as business, chemistry, engineering, social work, criminal justice, elementary education, and fine and dramatic arts. Affiliated with the university is the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which offers programs at all degree levels from associate to doctorate in areas that include dental hygiene, dentistry, medical technology, medicine, nuclear medicine technology, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician's assistant, radiation technology, and radiological technology.

Awarding associate through doctorate degrees, Creighton University is a private institution with colleges of arts and sciences and business administration and schools of law, nursing, pharmacy and allied health, dentistry, medicine, and graduate study and an annual enrollment of more than 6,500 students. Opened in 1943, Grace University is a private school with some 500 enrollees. Among the colleges located in the Omaha area are the College of Saint Mary (more than 900 attendees) and Metropolitan Community College (nearly 13,000 students). Area vocational schools offer specialized and technical training.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Omaha Public Library operates a main downtown facility, the W. Dale Clark Library (built in 1976), and nine branches while also providing services for the hearing- and visually-impaired. With holdings of nearly 800,000 volumes, plus videos, music cassette tapes, and compact discs, the library is also a depository for federal and state documents. Extensive main and departmental libraries are located on the campuses of all colleges and universities in the city. The University Library at the University of Nebraska consists of more than 750,000 volumes including 3,000 newspaper and journal subscriptions plus about two million microforms. Other libraries in Omaha are associated with government agencies, corporations, hospitals, religious groups, arts organizations, and the local newspaper.

Research centers affiliated with Omaha-area colleges and universities conduct studies in such fields as cancer, allergies, gerontology, human genetics, and neonatology. Founded in 1960, the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases, is funded by the National Cancer Institute and housed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, conducts research programs in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, immunology, nutrition, pathology, pharmacology, and virology.

Public Library Information: Omaha Public Library, 215 S 15th St., Omaha, NE 68102; telephone (402)444-4800; email webdesk@omaha.lib.ne.us

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Omaha: Population Profile

Omaha: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 585,122

1990: 618,262

2000: 716,998

Percent change, 19902000: 16.0%

U.S. rank in 1980: 57th

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 60th

City Residents

1980: 314,255

1990: 344,463

2000: 390,007

2003 estimate: 404,267

Percent change, 19902000: 13.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 48th

U.S. rank in 1990: 48th

U.S. rank in 2000: 53rd (State rank: 1st)

Density: 3,370.7 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 305,745

Black or African American: 51,917

American Indian or Alaska Native: 2,616

Asian: 6,773

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 228

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 29,397

Other: 15,250

Percent of residents born in state: 60.1% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 28,249

Population 5 to 9 years old: 27,721

Population 10 to 14 years old: 27,420

Population 15 to 19 years old: 28,359

Population 20 to 24 years old: 31,178

Population 25 to 34 years old: 60,292

Population 35 to 44 years old: 59,917

Population 45 to 54 years old: 50,496

Population 55 to 59 years old: 16,839

Population 60 to 64 years old: 13,514

Population 65 to 74 years old: 23,832

Population 75 to 84 years old: 16,286

Population 85 years and over: 5,904

Median age: 33.5 years

Births (2003) Total number: 6,933

Deaths (2003) Total number: 3,320 (of which, 51 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $21,756

Median household income: $40,006

Total households: 157,034

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 13,842

$10,000 to $14,999: 9,203

$15,000 to $24,999: 22,319

$25,000 to $34,999: 23,026

$35,000 to $49,999: 27,310

$50,000 to $74,999: 30,643

$75,000 to $99,999: 14,953

$100,000 to $149,999: 10,128

$150,000 to $199,999: 2,471

$200,000 or more: 3,139

Percent of families below poverty level: 7.8% (45.6% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 28,781

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Omaha: Convention Facilities

Omaha: Convention Facilities

Centrally located downtown, within easy access of sightseeing, entertainment, shopping, dining, and lodging, the Omaha Civic Auditorium is a popular site for regional events as well as national conventions, trade shows, and meetings and has 122,000 square feet of floor space. The main exhibition hall, with more than 67,800 square feet of space, accommodates up to 300 booths and can be partitioned into separate meeting rooms. The multipurpose, 25,000-square-foot convention hall, providing space for 176 booths, hosts banquets and large meetings.

In 2003 the newly constructed Qwest Center Omaha and Arena debuted with its 194,000 square foot exhibition hall (that can be divided into three separate spaces) and 17,000-seat arena. Highlighted by a 31,000-square-foot ballroom, the center also has 12 meeting rooms with seating ranging from 71 to 503 guests.

The Peter Kiewit Conference Center, located in the new mall area, is operated by the College of Continuing Studies of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Accommodations include an auditorium with a seating capacity of more than 500 people, 18 meeting rooms for groups of five to 500 people, dining and catering service, and teleconferencing and computer access. Additional convention and meeting facilities are available at two clusters of hotels at 72nd and Grover Streets and 108th and L Streets; some of these offer a selection of meeting rooms for functions involving from 35 to 1,800 participants. One example is the Holiday Inn Convention Center with 61,000 square feet of meeting space featuring the 23,000 square foot "Palace Ballroom" that can seat 4,000 for receptions or 2,800 theater-style.

Convention Information: Greater Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1001 Farnam St., Ste. 200, Omaha, NE 68102; telephone (402)444-4660; toll-free (866)937-6624; fax (402)444-4511

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Omaha: Communications

Omaha: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Omaha's daily newspaper is The Omaha World-Herald, published daily in the morning and evening and on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Several special-interest newspapers and magazines are also published in Omaha. Among them are The Catholic Voice and Jewish Press. The weekly Midlands Business Journal presents local business information on a weekly basis.

Television and Radio

Five television stations, affiliated with CBS, Fox, PBS, ABC, and NBC, broadcast from Omaha; two additional channels are received from Lincoln. Several companies supply cable television service to the metropolitan area. Radio programming that includes a range of musical formats such as rock, classical, jazz, and religious, as well as educational, information, and news features, is provided by 17 AM and FM stations based in Omaha.

Media Information: Omaha World-Herald, 1334 Dodge St., Omaha, NE 68102; telephone (402)444-1000

Omaha Online

City of Omaha Home Page. Available www.ci.omaha.ne.us

Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Available www.accessomaha.com

Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.visitomaha.com

Omaha by Design community development home page. Available www.livelyomaha.org

Omaha Public Library. Available www.omaha.lib.ne.us

Omaha Public Schools. Available www.ops.org

Omaha World-Herald. Available www.omaha.com

Selected Bibliography

Crary, Margaret, Susette La Flesche: Voice of the Omaha Indians (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1973)

Larsen, Lawrence H., and Barbara J. Cottrell, The Gate City: A History of Omaha (University of Nebraska Press, 1997)

Menard, Orville D., Political Bossism in Mid America: Tom Dennison's Omaha, 19001933 (University Press of America, 1989)

Oursler, Fulton, Father Flanagan of Boys Town, by Fulton Oursler and Will Oursler (New York: Doubleday, 1949)

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Omaha (city, United States)

Omaha (ō´məhä, –hô), city (1990 pop. 335,795), seat of Douglas co., E Nebr., on the west bank of the Missouri River; inc. 1857. The largest city in the state, it is a busy port of entry and a major transportation center. It is also one of the largest livestock markets and meat-processing centers in the world and a market for agricultural products. Besides food processing, the city's industries include the manufacture of farm machinery, fertilizers, electronic components, insecticides, chemicals, and paint. Omaha is also the home of many insurance and telecommunications companies, and a center for medical treatment and research.

Founded when the Nebraska Territory was opened to settlement in 1854, it grew as a supply point for westward migration and became a thriving transportation and industrial center after the arrival of the railroad in 1869. It was the territorial capital from 1855 to 1867. A world's fair, the Trans-Mississippi and International Exhibition, was held there in 1898.

The city has noted park and school systems and is the seat of Creighton Univ., the Univ. of Nebraska at Omaha, and the College of St. Mary. Of interest are the Joslyn Art Museum, an aerospace museum, a Mormon cemetery, and Fontenelle Forest. Fort Omaha (built 1868) serves as headquarters of the naval reserve training command. Offutt Air Force Base, south of the city, was the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) from 1946 to 1992, when SAC was abolished; the interservice Strategic Command is now based there. Boys Town is to the west of the city.

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Omaha

Omaha

Omaha: Introduction
Omaha: Geography and Climate
Omaha: History
Omaha: Population Profile
Omaha: Municipal Government
Omaha: Economy
Omaha: Education and Research
Omaha: Health Care
Omaha: Recreation
Omaha: Convention Facilities
Omaha: Transportation
Omaha: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1854 (incorporated 1857)

Head Official: Mayor Mike Fahey (D) (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 314,255

1990: 344,463

2000: 390,007

2003 estimate: 404,267

Percent change, 19902000: 13.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 48th

U.S. rank in 1990: 48th

U.S. rank in 2000: 53rd

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 585,122

1990: 618,262

2000: 716,998

Percent change, 19902000: 16.0%

U.S. rank in 1980: 57th

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 60th

Area: 118.88 square miles (2000)

Elevation: ranges from 965 to 1,300 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 52° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 30 inches of rain; 32 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Services, wholesale and retail trade, government, manufacturing

Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $21,756 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 28,781

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Nebraska at Omaha, Creighton University, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Daily Newspaper: The Omaha World-Herald

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Omaha: Transportation

Omaha: Transportation

Approaching the City

The terminal at Eppley Airfield, four miles northeast of downtown Omaha, is served by nine national air carriers and three regional airlines with direct flights to most major United States cities and connecting flights to points throughout the world. Located on 2,650 square feet of land, it served nearly four million passengers in 2004. Four general aviation airports in the metropolitan area are open to the public.

Principal highway routes providing access to the Omaha metropolitan area are I-80 and I-29; U.S. 6, 30, 75, and 275; and Nebraska 36, 38, 50, 64, 85, 92, 131, 133, and 370.

Traveling in the City

Omaha's streets are arranged in a grid pattern, with Dodge Street dividing the city into north and south sectors. Streets running north-south are numbered; east-west streets are named. Public bus transportation is provided by Metro Area Transit (MAT), which operates routes in Omaha, Council Bluffs, Bellevue, Papillion, Ralston, Boys Town, Carter Lake, La Vista, and Northeast Sarpy County. MAT schedules morning and evening express service; reduced fares for students and senior and handicapped passengers are available.

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Omaha: Health Care

Omaha: Health Care

The health care industry, which consists of nine hospitals, several clinics, and a number of other medical facilities, is one of Omaha's largest employers. The city is a center for medical education and research, with medical schools at Creighton University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a dental school, and a number of schools of nursing.

St. Joseph Hospital is the teaching hospital for the Creighton University School of Medicine, specializing in renal dialysis, metabolic research, cardiac diagnosis and treatment, and cancer care. Adjacent to St. Joseph is the Boys Town National Research Hospital, a national diagnostic, treatment, and research facility for children with hearing, speech, or learning disorders. The University of Nebraska Medical Center, the teaching hospital for the University of Nebraska School of Medicine, operates units for pediatric cardiology, cancer therapy, and high-risk newborn care, and a pain rehabilitation institute.

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Omaha: Introduction

Omaha: Introduction

Omaha, the seat of Douglas County, is the focus of a metropolitan statistical area that includes Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, and Washington counties in Nebraska and Pottawattamie County in Iowa. The city's development as a railroad center was augmented by the Union Stockyards and the meat-packing industry. Throughout its history Omaha has benefited from the civic commitment of its citizens. Father Edward J. Flanagan's establishment of Boys Town in the Omaha area brought national recognition to the plight of homeless children. Today, Omaha is an insurance and telecommunications center, home to the U.S. Air Force Strategic Command, and notable for its inexpensive housing, good schools, and relatively few social and environmental problems. The downtown is vibrant and growing and the business climate is thriving as recognized by Forbes magazine's 11th-place ranking in its "Best City for Business and Careers" list in 2004.

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Omaha: Geography and Climate

Omaha: Geography and Climate

Omaha is located on the bank of the Missouri River and is surrounded by rolling hills. The area's continental climate, which produces warm summers and cold, dry winters, is influenced by its position between two zones: the humid east and the dry west. Low pressure systems crossing the country also affect the weather in Omaha, causing periodic and rapid changes, especially in the winter. An annual average of 32 inches of snow falls during Omaha's winters, which are relatively cold. Sunshine occurs 50 percent of the possible time in the winter and 75 percent in the summer.

Area: 118.88 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from 965 to 1,300 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 21° F; July, 76° F; annual average, 52° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 30 inches of rain; 32 inches of snow

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Omaha: Municipal Government

Omaha: Municipal Government

The city of Omaha operates under a mayor-council form of government. The mayor, who does not serve on the council, and seven council members are all elected to four-year terms.

Head Official: Mayor Mike Fahey (D) (since 2001; current term expires 2009)

Total Number of City Employees: 2,800 (2003)

City Information: Mayor's Office, 1819 Farnam St., Ste. 300, Omaha, NE 68183; telephone (402)444-5000; email mfahey@ci.omaha.ne.us

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Omaha

Omaha Port on the Missouri River, in e Nebraska, USA. The area was ceded to the US government in 1854. It was the capital of Nebraska Territory from 1854 to 1867. It is a leading livestock market and meat processing centre, and a major insurance centre. Pop. (2000) 390,007.

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Omaha

Omahaha-ha, Praha •brouhaha • Mudéjar • pakeha • Doha •hoo-ha • Omaha

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