Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska and is located along the Missouri River. Founded as a pioneer settlement in 1854, the city is now home to four Fortune 500 companies, including Berkshire Hathaway and the largest U.S. railroad operator, Union Pacific Corp.
Shops, nightlife, and restaurants can be found in Omaha's Blackstone District, and it's a trendy part of town currently attracting young professionals. The city of Omaha is in rapid change, with population growth driving development in the rural western parts of the county. What was once agricultural land is now being replaced by a mix of residential, commercial, and industrial development, as well as a variety of retail and office buildings.
When the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened this area to settlement, Kanesville had become the site where a group of entrepreneurs had founded the City of Omaha and the Nebraska Territory, which became the largest city in the state of Nebraska and the second largest in North America. The promoters wanted the capital of this newly created territory to be directly above the Missouri River, in part to influence at least the builders of a then planned transcontinental railway that would lay its tracks through the new city.
The construction of the line from 1865 to 1869 was secured, and more railroads were built through Omaha, which lost its capital city status to Lincoln after Nebraska joined the Union in 1867.
The construction of additional Trans-Missouri lines expanded Omaha's connections to the Plains and West, and expanded its commercial sector into a service area for the Union Pacific. This connection enabled Omaha to become a smelting center and contributed to the development of Omaha as a major industrial center in the United States. This capital was crucial to Omaha's early development and contributed to its growing status as a major city. Moreover, its proximity to the Platte Valley made it a natural landing site for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other military personnel.
In 1955, Omaha was one of the leading livestock markets in the U.S. and the world's leading meat packaging and processing center. Between 1967 and 1976, a combination of economic downturns in Omaha and an increase in meat imports from the U.S. led to a sharp decline in the local packaging industry. The city remained an innovator in food processing, but the main warehouses closed in 1999, and marketing changes contributed to the decline of Omaha's role as a major meat processing location. Steaks have survived as an Omaha icon, and meat packaging remains an important part of the local economy.
Westbound Mormons spent the winter of 1846-47 in a camp they called winter quarters, later called Florence, and later annexed by Omaha. A trading post for Indian authorities and missions in the early 1820s was not far south of Omaha, and because it was on Indian soil, the Mormons had to take their leave at that time.
The military presence at the base has helped the economy of the Omaha area and the economic development of Sarpy County southwest of Omaha.
With new energy in the city, there is currently an initiative to create mixed-use development and walkable neighborhoods that drew residents to previously neglected areas of the city. Some key venues in Omaha include the Henry Doorly Zoo, the Old Market historic district, the Joslyn Art Museum, and the modern Holland Performing Arts Center, among many others.