Thursday, August 25, 2011

Omaha Overview

There may be one more Omaha-themed post still to come, but this is the round-up of the miscellaneous images and impressions I can't fit in elsewhere.

Bohemian Cafe sign in black letter, with hand-painted tiles around
Omaha (and Nebraska in general) is home to a large population of Czech-descended people. South Omaha, particularly, was a Bohemian center. The Bohemian Cafe is one of the few obviously Czech businesses remaining in the area. Its sign and beautiful facade were created in 1959 and maintained by the same family ever since.

Brick warehouse with faded letters of a 19th century sign running between the windows of all the floors
This is one of the gorgeous buildings in the Old Market area.

Mutual of Omaha headquarters and sign
If you're an American baby-boomer, you probably remember the television show Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. I found myself explaining to a young Omahan that everyone over a certain age knows about Mutual of Omaha because of that show -- though she had never heard of it.

Statue of a hip hop kid with neon red O on his chest, leaning on a sign
This kind of clueless sculpture is on the edge of the Old Market area. It faces away from the street corner, toward a parking garage. It's sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and there are a few tables and chairs on the plaza. I'm not sure what it means.

Shadows of tree branches on a sidewalk
Cool shadow photo number one.

Shadows of fire escapes on a brick building
And cool shadow photo number two.

Cartoonish lumpy figure with two mouths and four eyes
A compelling bit of graffiti art.

Cadillac art car with giant fins and a big paper mache hand on the side
An art car near the Old Market.

Then there was suburban Omaha, which seemed about 10 percent more soulless than Twin Cities suburbia. Although I'm sure that's just biased.

But did you know there isn't a retail shopping area in downtown Omaha? There's the Old Market, which has a scattering of boutique retailers among a bunch of restaurants, but the street that used to house the city's key retailers is empty of stores. You can't buy men's clothes in downtown, for instance. There's not a department store of any size. Everything is in the malls, and the malls themselves are really far to the west of downtown.

CrossRoadS Mall sign
This mall with the unfortunately capitalized name is within the city limits, I think, but it's not actually a mall as I think of them. It's a bunch of big box stores that are near each other.

Black and white harlequin checked building with sign above saying just FUN with an arrow pointing downward
Who could resist a photo of this place? Not me.

Front page of the Omaha World-Herald
Finally, one thing I enjoyed while in Omaha was reading the daily paper, the World-Herald. For some reason, I don't remember hearing of it before this visit.

I found it to be a newspaper of good proportions (its pages, both in scale and number don't appear to have shrunk as much as the papers around the Twin Cities) and high quality. Looking into it a little further, I think I may have found the reason: The paper is employee-owned, and so hasn't been raided by venture capitalists. It's the largest employee-owned daily paper in the U.S.


Michael Leddy said...

Do you remember the wild-kingdom analogies that kicked off the Mutual of Omaha commercials? "just as a mother lion cares for her young," and so on.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

An employee-owned newspaper...a rare treasure, I think.

Daughter Number Three said...

Michael -- I wouldn't have remembered that on my own, but now that you mention it, it sounds familiar.

BlOG -- I know. Wish there were more of them!