When you think about Omaha, you might think about its famous zoo, a certain billionaire, or maybe a juicy, mouth-watering steak. The city is known for these things — and many more unique inventions, landmarks and fun facts!
Here are just a handful of the many things Omaha is known for, including one fascinating tidbit involving yours truly! Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something new about our beloved Omaha.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is included on every “things to do in Omaha” list — and for good reason! It has consistently ranked among the best zoos in the world for its exceptional exhibits and programs. The zoo is home to thousands of animals from around the globe, as well as 160 acres of exhibits and gardens (including 7 acres of indoor exhibits). One of the more noteworthy exhibits is the 1.5-acre Lied Jungle, which is the largest indoor rainforest in the country and among the largest in the world. Here, you can mingle with gibbons, otters, scarlet macaws, ring-tailed lemurs, blue monkeys, and much more — about 90 species total! And the Desert Dome is a spectacular indoor desert spanning 84,000 square feet, featuring plants and animal life from the Namib Desert of southern Africa, the Red Center of Australia and the Sonoran Desert of the southwestern United States.
There is so much to see at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium — and it’s always changing. Becoming a member is the best way to ensure you can experience it all throughout your return visits. Reduce your wait at the gate and purchase your tickets ahead of time online.
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (more fondly known as “Bob the Bridge”) is one of Omaha’s most cherished landmarks. The 3,000-foot steel structure spans the Missouri River, connecting Omaha to Council Bluffs via a pedestrian pathway. The bridge also crosses the state line that separates Nebraska from Iowa, so you can actually straddle the state line to be in two places at once! Bonus: The views of the Omaha skyline from this vantage point can’t be beat.
Although there are several claims to the invention of the Reuben sandwich, many believe that it was originally crafted by Omaha’s own Reuben Kulakofsky in the heart of the Blackstone Hotel. It appeared on the menu in 1925 (for a whopping 40 cents), and was further developed by the Blackstone’s Charles Schimmel, who insisted on soaking the kraut in Russian dressing at least 24 hours in advance. The Reuben is now a popular option at delis across the country. One of our favorites (and most authentic) here in Omaha is served by Crescent Moon, conveniently located just across from the historic hotel.
We sure love our sports here in Omaha — and we’ve actually become a destination for baseball fans each summer, who flock to TD Ameritrade Park for the College World Series each June. Sixty-four teams face off to decide the final eight teams to play in Omaha, with one team winning it all! The tournament has been held in Omaha since 1950, originally taking place at Rosenblatt Stadium, before moving to TD Ameritrade Park in 2011. In 2019, the NCAA announced a contract extension committing to keep the series in Omaha until at least 2035 — so we have many more baseball games to look forward to!
While there are many noteworthy famous figures originating from Omaha, billionaire Warren Buffett is by far the most well-known. Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Buffett is one of the wealthiest people in the world, and he got his start right here in Omaha — and continues to call the city his home. Buffett is an investment guru and the CEO, chairman and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway. He was born in 1930 in Omaha, and still lives in the humble home he and his first wife bought for just $31,500 in 1958.
The “Top 40” radio format feels so integrated into our world that it’s easy to forget the concept must have originated somewhere — and that “somewhere” is right here in Omaha! Robert Todd Storz was the owner of Omaha radio station, KOWH, and is credited with coming up with this popular format in the early 1950s. The story goes that Storz was sitting at a diner near the station with an employee and noticed that the waitresses were playing the same popular songs over and over on the jukebox when they got a tip. This inspired an idea: his radio station could attract listeners by simply playing the hits over and over. Storz then began implementing this strategy — and the rest is history!
Home to Four Fortune 500 Companies
While larger cities like New York and Dallas are the first that come to mind when it comes to large corporations, it’s easy to forget that Omaha has several of its own. In fact, the Omaha area is home to seven companies among the Fortune 500 and 1,000. The four Fortune 500 companies in Omaha include Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific Railroad, Mutual of Omaha Insurance, and Kiewit Corporation. This makes our city a promising place to do business!
Invention of the Ski Chairlift
With no ski slopes in sight, you may be a bit surprised to learn that the ski chairlift was actually invented in Omaha! That’s right — the chairlift was first developed by James Curran, an engineer for Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, during the summer of 1936. Curran had previously worked as an engineer for banana conveyor systems that would transport bananas to cargo ships in the tropics. He used some of the same concepts used for banana transportation to create a design for transporting skiers to the top of slopes — and the same chairlift design is still used to this day! The first chairlifts in the world were created for the ski resort in Sun Valley, Idaho in 1936 and 1937 — and one still remains on Rudd Mountain! Read the full story about this invention here.
The Country’s Oldest Real Estate Company
NP Dodge Real Estate (that’s us!) is the oldest real estate company in the country. Our company was founded by brothers Grenville and Nathan Phillips Dodge after moving to Douglas County in 1853 and 1854, and we officially opened our doors in 1855 — yes, eighteen fifty-five! While Grenville went on to serve as a general in the Civil War and helped found the Union Pacific Railroad, N.P. stayed in the land-sale business, building the foundation for what is now America’s longest-running, family-owned real estate firm. Learn more about our company’s history here!
We’ve been around a long time, so if anyone is equipped to help you navigate this ever-changing real estate climate — it’s us. If you’re interested in buying or selling a home, we can help. Feel free to contact us with all of your real estate needs!
What else is Omaha known for? Tell us your favorite local tidbit in the comments below!
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