Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Omaha

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OMAHA, a city of Nebraska, the largest in the State, and the county-seat of Douglas co. It is on the Missouri river, about 500 miles W. of Chicago. Omaha is located on 9 trunk lines of railroads and 22 branches. These include the Burlington route, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, the Wabash, the Northwestern, the Illinois Central, the Union Pacific, and the Missouri Pacific. The city is also on the Missouri river, which is spanned by many great bridges connecting it with Council Bluffs, Iowa. A belt line of railroads encircles the city, giving railway inter-communication. The area of the city is 37.78 square miles. There are 800 miles of streets. and a water system costing $10,000,000. Omaha is the center of an important agricultural area and is the first city in the United States in the production of butter, the second corn and live stock market, the third agricultural implement center, and the fourth railroad center. The city is attractively situated on a plateau rising into bluffs which are used largely for residence sites. The business district lies adjacent to the river.

From its position with reference to the West, Omaha is called the Gate City. It has a park system of over 1,000 acres in extent, and includes municipal bathing beaches, swimming pools, playgrounds, golf courses, etc.

The large parks are connected by a boulevard system of over 35 miles in length.

There is a public school enrollment of about 35,000 and the cost of the school system is over $2,000,000 annually. The institutions for higher education include Creighton University, the University of Omaha, Omaha Medical College, Brownell Hall, and several private schools. There are in all over 80 public and private schools. The public library contains over 150,000 volumes. The notable buildings include the city hall, county court house, United States Government building, bank buildings, an auditorium, and the Protestant Episcopal and Roman Catholic cathedrals. The city contains the Nebraska Institution for the Deaf, and several large hospitals. It is the seat of the military headquarters of the Department of Missouri.

Fort Omaha lies within the city limits and Fort Crook adjoins it on the south. Omaha is an important wholesale center with an annual business of over $350,000,000. The leading lines are automobiles, groceries, oil, commission products, boilers and accessories, agricultural implements, drygoods, lumber, coal, plumbing and heating supplies. The total value of the manufactures is over $460,000,000 annually. Meat packing is the chief industry. The annual output is valued at over $300,000,000. Omaha is first in pig lead production. Other important manufactures are flour, butter, food products of all kinds, clothing, boots and shoes, rubber goods, steam engines, boilers, etc. The bank clearings exceed $3,000,000,000 annually. It has branches of the Federal Land Bank and of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Omaha is an Indian name of disputed meaning. The town was laid out in 1854 on a scale which anticipated its future growth. Its commercial importance was assured when it was selected as the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific railroad. Stock yards were established in 1884. In 1898 the trans-Mississippi Exposition was held here. The Grain Exchange was opened in 1904. In 1920 Omaha was selected as the half-way station of the Trans-continental Aerial Mail. Pop. (1910) 124,096; (1920) 191,601.