Omaha has grown since its 1854 beginnings to become the biggest city in Nebraska, with a population of more than 400,000. Omaha is located in the eastern part of the state near the Iowa border, 126 miles from Des Moines. Omaha gets as much snow as rain annually (about 30 inches of each), and averages a nippy 21 degrees in January, but a pleasant 77 in July. Omaha is a famously good place to live, cited by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 15 regions in the nation and by Parenting Magazine as among the top 10 cities for raising a family.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Several heartland enterprises have made Omaha well known in America and around the world. Just some of the companies that keep Omaha on the economic map:
- ConAgra Foods, Inc., headquartered in Omaha, is one of the nation's major food companies with such commonly known brands as Orville Redenbacher's, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice, and Chef Boyardee.
- Berkshire Hathaway is a diversified company with interests in insurance, jewelry, clothing, and more. The company is run by financial guru Warren E. Buffett, popularly known as the Oracle of Omaha.
- Mutual of Omaha is the most famous of 20 insurance companies headquartered in Omaha. Mutual is known around the world for sponsoring the long-running (and ground-breaking) television series Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.
- Kiewit Corporation has grown from an Omaha masonry company in 1884 to one of the largest construction and mining concerns in North America.
- Union Pacific Railroad, a division of Union Pacific Corporation, is the largest railroad in the nation and operator of Omaha's Harriman Dispatch Center, which serves as a sophisticated, high-tech command center.
Tech businesses headquartered in Omaha include:
- First Data Corporation, a leading third-party contract processor of bank card transactions, with more than 7,000 employees.
- ACI Worldwide, developers of software applications for financial institutions and retailers, serves more than 520 customers in 71 countries.
- Data Transmission Network (DTN) dominates agricultural market information, news, and commodity quotes.
- Ameritrade Holding Corporation is a popular provider of discount brokerage services.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Omaha has several neighborhoods with homes in all price points and sizes. New-home developments are springing up in the West, with homes ranging from the low and mid $100,000s to multi-million-dollar mansions in neighborhoods such as Bellevue, Millard, Gretna and Papillion. More rural neighborhoods, such as Sarpy, Washington and western Douglas counties let home-owners enjoy vast woody acreages with stables, streams, and ponds. Those who prefer to be closer to the city will find everything from vintage Victorian homes south of Broadway Avenue to new homes in Council Bluffs and Loess Hills. Historic neighborhoods include Field Club, Bemis Park, Blackstone, Gold Coast, Cathedral, Happy Hollow, Fairacres, Country Club, Florence, Hanscom Park, Kountze Park, Benson and Dundee, where billionaire Warren Buffett lives in a relatively modest home. Midtown, north downtown and South Omaha are all undergoing renewal and redevelopment projects.
The Henry Doorly Zoo is a massive zoo with one of the top attractions in the state:
- Scott Aquarium, a 71,000-square-foot aquarium
- Lied Jungle, an indoor rainforest and the largest of its kind
- Kingdoms of the Night, a large nocturnal habitat
- Garden of the Senses, which boasts more than 250 species of plants
- Berniece Grewcock Butterfly and Insect Pavilion
- Lozier IMAX Theater
Fortunately, a transportation system (including a railroad and trams) can help you take in all the excitement.
Omaha offers many different shopping opportunities. In addition to large shopping centers, Omaha has a number of specialty stores, galleries, and antique shops.
- Borsheim's, owned by Warren E. Buffett, is the nation's largest independent jewelry store. The store spans some 37,000 square feet.
- Nebraska Furniture Mart, also owned by Warren E. Buffett, is the nation's largest home furnishings store.
- Old Market is Omaha's restored warehouse district in downtown Omaha. The historic neighborhood is filled with unusual shops and restaurants.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The key word in describing Omaha's two most famous art establishments is "largest."
- Artists from around the world compete for residencies at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. It is the nation's largest urban artist colony.
- The Omaha Community Playhouse is the largest community theater in the nation, in terms of both square footage and subscriptions.
Also important to Omaha's vibrant cultural life are:
- The Omaha Symphony Orchestra and its home, the Holland Performing Arts Center
- The Blue Barn Theatre and the Rose Theater, two other centerpieces of Omaha's performing arts community
- The Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha Children's Museum, and the Durham Western Heritage Museum
- The Omaha Blues, Jazz, & Gospel Festival, an annual celebration of local music
DID YOU KNOW?
- Omaha is the hometown of famous actors Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando and Nick Nolte.
- Marlon Brando's mother gave Henry Fonda acting lessons at the Omaha Community Playhouse.
- In 1917, Father Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town in Omaha.
- Since 1950, Omaha has been the home of the College World Series.
- First National Tower, in the heart of downtown Omaha, is the tallest building between Chicago and Denver.
- Omaha's St. Cecilia's Cathedral is one of the 10 largest cathedrals in the nation.
- In 1863, Omaha was designated by President Abraham Lincoln as the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad, now the largest railroad in North America.
- Union Pacific Railroad operates Omaha's Harriman Dispatch Center, which serves as a high-tech command center for rail.
- Almost 100 Omaha buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Bank of Florence, Holy Family Church, Christian Specht Building and Joslyn Castle.
- ConAgra Foods, headquartered in Omaha, is one of the nation's major food companies with such brands as Orville Redenbacher's, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice and Chef Boyardee.
- Berkshire Hathaway is a diversified company with interests in insurance, jewelry and more. The company is run by financial guru Warren E. Buffett, popularly known as the Oracle of Omaha.
- Mutual of Omaha is the most famous of 20 insurance companies headquartered in Omaha. Mutual is known for sponsoring the long-running television series "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom."