From the Archives: Where in Omaha is this?

Our library, a room filled from floor to ceiling with shelves full of old photos, has hundreds of pictures of Omaha through the years. So I thought it might be fun to occasionally run a few photos of old-time Omaha and let you guess the location. Have fun!

This undated photo was taken on Douglas Street, looking east from 16th Street. I wonder if parking was more difficult then?


Here are two photos of the same place, 50 years apart. The first was taken in 1909.

Here is the same scene in 1959.

Guessed it? Both photos are taken at 31st and Harney streets, looking southwest. The first photo was on a postcard received by Mrs. John Ring  of Hooper, Neb., on Feb. 1, 1909. The second was shot as a “passage of time” photo. It shows the Dewey Park tennis courts.


This is a hard one from 1940! First, I’ll tell you the interesting story behind it, then give you the location. A dugout in the Gibson Hills occupied by Charles “Blacky” Dixon, 70-year old recluse, whose death Friday was attributed by officials yesterday to exposure. When found by neighbors who grew suspicious when they noted no smoke coming from the chimney, he had 13 cents in his pockets and his head was pillowed on a copy of Fortune Magazine. Dixon had lived in the dugout for 12 years. The dugout was located at First and Hascall streets, which is between Laurizten Gardens and the Henry Doorly Zoo.


Another hard one. The caption read: “Dodge Detour Permits Work on Shopping Center Access.” It’s the detour on West Dodge Road at 102nd Street in 1965.


Now my favorite photo. I’ll give you a hint: I am sitting at the same location while I type this!

It’s a building (and former flophouse) at 13th and Douglas being torn down in 1955!

Hope you enjoyed the tour of Omaha long ago!

Jolene McHugh

About Jolene McHugh

I was a graphic artist prior to coming to the Omaha World-Herald in 2007, and now I’m a photo imaging specialist, which means I prepare photos to print properly in the newspaper. I also have the incredibly fun task of restoring old photographs from our massive library. My favorite part of my job is getting lost in the history and stories behind the photographs. Many of the archive photos have little or no information attached, so I need to properly date and identify the people and places in them. Researching the stories is a bit like being on a historical scavenger hunt. The largest challenge I face is restoring photos we run in our books. Our newest book, “At War, At Home: The Cold War” is filled with hundreds of old photographs, and most of them small and in poor condition. I live in Omaha with my husband, one of my daughters and three very furry Maine Coon cats.
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  1. Angie Dunham says:

    Hey, Jolene -
    I LOVE old photos of Omaha and the surrounding areas, so I totally envy you your job – what fun!!! :)
    Looking forward to seeing more,

  2. Hey very nice website!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your site and take the feeds also…I’m happy to find so many useful info here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  3. [...] with all the feedback I received through email, Facebook and Viewfinder that I thought a sequel to “Where in Omaha is this?” would be fun. I once scanned in a huge folder of Omaha scenes from our morgue (aka photo library) [...]

  4. Torsten Adair says:

    What happened to that water tower… it looks like it’s at 120th and Pacific… Boy’s Town?

    The turn of the century photo shows a streetcar line and no (?) automobiles.

    Not much electricity, and that looks like a gas lamp on the left. Most likely the 1890s.

    “Two Orphans” is a play, which premiered in New York City in 1874, and which was quite popular at the time. There should be advertising in local papers giving a general run of the play in Omaha.

    Also, the various businesses (S.I. Andrews) can be found in phone books and city directories.

    Omaha daily bee., July 03, 1898, Part I, Page 4 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

    Bliss Millinery
    1512 Douglas Street

    The streetcar tracks run along Sixteenth, where the camera is positioned, and the view is to the east.

    Right around the corner, to the north, is your “Part II” photo, with the Cartwright building!

    By the way… the formatting of this blog cuts off the right side of the images. Only when I open each image in a new tab do I see the complete picture. (Your websters should also allow the pictures to be enlarged with mouse clicks.)