Omaha Street Names




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Taylor Street may have been named for E. B. Taylor, who purchased the Omaha Republican newspaper in 1861.  Some claim it was named for President Zachary Taylor.

W.G. Templeton helped found the Citizens Bank in 1886 and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Midlands State Bank.

Turkey Lane was a short street in South Omaha running from 21st to 22nd Street. The name is derived from “the belief that the people living on this street were lovers of turkeys, and that these proud birds in the Thanksgiving season strutted up and down the street without molestation.” There is now a Turkey Road in West Omaha.
W. A. Underwood was President of the Omaha Waterworks Company when it opened a modern pumping station in Florence. He was one of several prominent Omahans involved with the Nebraska Central Railroad Company and the building of a railroad bridge across the Missouri River.

The naming of this street continues to baffle historians. The winding street was apparently an Indian trail at one time. Vinton Street first appeared in the Omaha City Directory in 1878 and was laid out as it is today.

Eleazer Wakely was an associate territorial justice of the Nebraska Territory and later a district judge. In an 1884 case, he ruled that the mayor had been illegally ousted by the city council. He served in a Nebraska constitutional convention, dealt with tax and corporate law, and worked as an attorney for the Union Pacific Railroad. Humor and repartee were characteristic of his courtroom and writings.

John Lee Webster, an eminent attorney and public figure, arrived in Omaha in 1869 to practice his profession and soon engaged in politics. He served as a state legislator, chaired the 1875 constitutional convention, was city attorney in 1877 and led the Nebraska Republican Party delegation to two presidential conventions. His most memorable case, with Andrew Poppleton at his side, earned a prominent place in American constitutional law.  Justice Dundy ruled in favor of Webster’s and Poppleton’s client, the incarcerated Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe, in deciding that the “Indian is a person within the meaning of the laws of the United States,” and has the right to sue for a writ of habeas corpus in a federal court.  However, he lost in later case seeking voting rights for Indians. 

William Street, in the southeastern part of the city, was named by pioneer S. E. Rogers for his father, William R. Rogers, who came to Omaha in 1854 and died soon after his arrival.
James Woolworth arrived in Omaha in 1856 to enter a career that marked him as a major contributor to Nebraska jurisprudence. He was the first city of Omaha attorney and rose to prominence in the city’s religious, political, business, and legal worlds. He was a member of the claims club, the territorial legislature, the 1871 constitutional convention, the Board of Trustees of Brownell Hall. He helped develop South Omaha‘s stockyards. Frequently he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, usually on cases involving railroads. An author, he wrote The History of Omaha, published in 1857, and owned rare editions in his private library. His large art collection included small paintings by Corot, Rousseau, and Renoir.
A section of North 34th Avenue was named for slain civil rights figure Malcolm X in 2003. The street between Bedford and Evans is adjacent to the birthsite of Malcolm Little, who was born there in 1925. Threats from night riders forced his family to move out of state. Little, who fell into a life of drugs and prison, educated himself and became a leader of the Black Muslims. Though he once felt whites were inherently racist, he later softened his views. He was assassinated in New York City in 1965.

Henry W. Yates came to Omaha as a wholesale grocer.  Two years later he joined the Kountze brothers to begin his banking career, rising to president of the First National Bank. A variety of business interests occupied him: real estate, railroad, bridge, stockyards development, and white lead smelting.   He joined the Omaha Library Association to establish a circulating library in Omaha, and participated in the founding of Brownell Hall, an Episcopal School for young women in 1863.

Several streets, highways and expressways are named after U.S. presidents, including: Adams, Cleveland, Ford, Garfield, Grant, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kennedy, Lincoln, Madison, Monroe, Pierce, Polk, Taylor, and Washington.

Others are named for trees (Pine, Oak, Walnut, Maple, etc), some for locations or neighborhoods (Deer Park, River View, Country Club, etc.). Still others are named for states of the union (Kansas Avenue, Nebraska Avenue, Iowa Street, Ohio Street, Wyoming Street); Indian tribes (Otoe Street, Omaha Trace, Ponca Road and the generic Indian Street); oceans (Pacific); and non-specific waterways (Bay Meadows Road, Bay Wood Drive, Dock Street, Lake Forest Drive, Lakeshore Drive, Lakeside Drive, Lakeview Street, River Drive, Riverfront Drive). State Street borrowed its name from the famous Chicago thoroughfare.



Bauman, Louise, and Charles Martin and S. Jane Simpson. Omaha’s Historical Prospect Hill Cemetery. Omaha: Prospect Hill Cemetery Historical Development Foundation, 1990.
Brick, H. Ben. The Streets of Omaha: Their Origins and Changes. Omaha: Omaha Public Library, 1997.
Savage James W., and John T. Bell. History of the City of Omaha. New York and Chicago: Munsell & Company, 1894.
Sorenson, Alfred. The Story of Omaha from the Earliest days to the Present. 3rd ed. Omaha: National Printing Company, 1923.
Wakeley, Arthur C., Omaha: The Gate City, and Douglas County Nebraska. Chicago: The J. S. Clark Publishing Co., 1917.

Newspaper clipping files of the Douglas County Historical Society, Library Archives Center.



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