From the Archives: Rebuilding Omaha after the 1913 tornado

The March 23, 1913, tornado ripped through our area on an Easter Sunday, killing as many as 150 people, according to our newspaper accounts on March 14, 1913.

A year later, The World-Herald printed a book of photographs: “How Omaha Rebuilt the Tornado District in One Year.” See the whole book here (PDF).

I thought it might be interesting to see some of the sites after the tornado, a year later and today.

The captions under the photos are the captions printed in the 1914 book. All the 1913-1914 photos are from The World-Herald archives. Staff photographer Chris Machian took the current shots on March 12, 2013.

Ruins at 24th and Lake Streets, showing damage done after the tornado.

24th and Lake, as rebuilt today (1914).

24th Street looking south from Lake Street in March 2013.


Arthur Brandeis residence after the tornado.

Ed. Phelan residence, formerly home of Arthur Brandeis, 38th and Cass (1914).


37th and Cass Streets – fourteen houses in a block were destroyed.

37th and Cass Streets (1914).

Cass Street photographed from 37th Street in March 2013.


Geo. A. Joslyn’s million dollar castle badly wrecked by tornado.

Geo. A. Joslyn castle – 39th & Davenport Streets.

Joslyn Castle photographed on Thursday March 14, 2013.


Highland Terrace Apartments, 40th & Harney Streets.

Highland Terrace Apartments rebuilt (1914).

Red Cross building located at 40th and Harney Streets in March 2013.


Ruins at 42nd and Harney Streets.

42nd and Harney Streets as rebuilt today (1914).

Parking garage located on the southeast corner of 42nd and Harney Streets in March 2013.


North from 40th and Dodge Streets.

Looking north from 40th & Dodge Streets (1914).

40th Street looking north from Dodge in March 2013.


Southeast from 36th and California Streets after the tornado.

Looking southeast from 36th and California (1914).

Looking east down California Street toward 36th Street in March 2013.


Ruins of Trinity M. E. Church at 21st and Binney Streets.

Trinity M.E. Church – 21st and Binney Streets (1914).

Church of the Living God at 2029 Binney St. in March 2013.

More on the 1913 tornado.
More photos of the devastation.

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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