Omaha: "The Gate City of the West"
LARGEST CITY IN NEBRASKA—GATE TO THE WEST—GROWTH OF INDUSTRIES—SPLENDID INSTITUTIONS—A PROSPEROUS CITY—REMARKABLE ACTIVITY.
Omaha, "the Gate City," largest in Nebraska, is a typical plains town, proud of its industry and its climb on the census list. It stands eighty feet above the Missouri on the west bank of that river opposite Council Bluffs, Iowa. For twenty-four square miles stretch its many churches, educational institutions and large manufacturing plants, with the pleasant residential section lying above.
On the site of the present city Lewis and Clark in 1804 held council with the Indians. There were a trading station and stockade at the place in 1825 presided over by pioneer J. B. Royce. The first permanent settlement was made there in 1854. A tribe of Dakota Indians that lived in the region gave the city its name.
When the Union Pacific Railroad was stretching steel hands westward in 1864 Omaha was the most northerly outfitting point for overland wagon trains to the far West. At that time it took its name of "Gate City" and then its sudden growth began. In 1910 the population was 124,000.
GROWTH OF INDUSTRIES
Because of its location it soon began to draw industries. Packing is one of its leading industries today. So extensive is this business that Omaha ranks third among cities of the United States in packing. Silver smelting, distilling and brewing are some of the other pursuits that keep its citizens busy.
Among the more important buildings are the Federal Building, Court House, a city hall, two high schools, one of which is among the finest in the country, a convention hall, the Auditorium and the Public Library. Omaha is the see of Roman Catholic and Protestant Episcopal bishoprics. Among the educational institutions are a state school for the deaf; the medical department and orthopedic branch of the University of Nebraska; a Presbyterian Theological Seminary; and Creighton University under Jesuit control. The principal newspapers are the Omaha Bee, World-Herald and the News. The Omaha Bee was established in 1871 by Edward Rosewater, who made it one of the most influential Republican journals in the West. The World-Herald, founded in 1865 by George L. Miller, was edited by William Jennings Bryan from 1894 to 1896.
Omaha is the headquarters of the United States military department of the Missouri, and there are military posts at Fort Omaha, immediately north, and Fort Crook, ten miles south of the city.
Prairie freighting and Missouri river navigation, were of importance before the construction of the Union Pacific railway, and the activity of the city in securing the freighting interest gave her an initial start over the other cities of the state. Council Bluffs was the legal, but Omaha the practical, eastern terminus of that great undertaking, work on which began at Omaha in December, 1863. The city was already connected as early as 1863 by telegraph with Chicago, St. Louis, and since 1861 with San Francisco. Lines of the present great Rock Island, Burlington and Northwestern railway systems all entered the city in the years 1867-1868. Meat-packing began as early as 1871, but its first great advance followed the removal of the Union stock-yards south of the city in 1884. South Omaha was rapidly built up around them. A Trans-Mississippi Exposition illustrating the progress and resources of the states west of the Mississippi was held at Omaha in 1898. It represented an investment of $2,000,000, and in spite of financial depression and wartime, ninety per cent of their subscriptions were returned in dividends to the stockholders.
The original town site occupied an elongated and elevated river terrace, now given over wholly to business; behind this are hills and bluffs over which the residential districts have extended.
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