Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Welcome "Home" - Omaha, NE

Please excuse my lapse in posting. We have had a little change in plans. We have relocated from our beloved New York City to my childhood home of Omaha, NE. This change brings many wonderful things with it, but it also brings some challenges. The biggest begin that, Omaha just does not feel like "home" to me. I know that I grew up here, I know that my family lives here. But Omaha just does not "speak" to me. I look around, and I don't feel anything here. Least of all in the suburbs - they are absolutely distasteful to me. Making a "home" here is going to be a challenge. I don't mean the purchasing of a physical home, but I mean really feeling like I belong here - which I currently don't. This is the first time that I have lived in Omaha without any plans to leave again. Scary.
So having said that, I have set out to find Omaha, and help it speak to me. I relate very well to urban areas. They feel soulful to me - the energy of the people of a city, both past and present make it such a vibrant place.
One issue I have with Omaha is that it is constantly demolishing the old. The past. The history. How will we know where we came from if all there is here are shiny new buildings, perfectly manicured green spaces and factory created "public art"? How inspiring will this be to future generations? Are we even thinking about future generations?

I decided to try and find my place in Omaha. I am not sure how that is going to happen, or how long it will take. I have started by looking at what history is physically left here. Trying to connect somehow to this city that I now call home.

I started downtown this morning. I had no desire to visit the Old Market, Gene Lahey Mall, blah, blah blah. For some reason that all feels very commercial and contrived to me. I am looking for the real nitty-gritty. I went north of the interstate to an area where the history has not completely been wiped out (although Omaha's finest businessmen and political leaders are well on their way to destroying the history here as well) to 16th and California. Hey - by the way - when did Mike Fahey get a street? Oh I guess when he demolished acres of land for his new Baseball Stadium when there was a perfectly good one in the now not so desireable part of town - but I digress....

I neglected to take a picture of the edifice of the buildings here, I was looking for detail - sorry about that. The address is 611 N 16th St. Omaha, Ne - I tried to link the Google map - but alas, it would not work.

1. I looked this building up on the county assessor's website to see what the story was. This building was built in 1900. Making it a grand 110 years old. Not bad for Omaha. Sadly - it is now owned by Creighton University. Which more than likely means that its days are numbered. Creighton does not have a history of restoring the buildings that they purchase. So take a look now - because you never know when the wrecking ball is going to strike this one.
This is the top north-west corner of the building and it looks like, at some point, There was tin hammered to the brick - or maybe the brick was removed, and this is what is under it? I would love to see the room behind those windows!

2. Koory's Variety Store. No further information available online - but it sure would be interesting to know more about it. This was apparenty the last commercial tennant that occupied this building. How long has it been since people painted signs on windows? I don't know, Wal-Mart and Target gave up that practice years ago....

I shot most of these images with my nifty-fifty 50mm prime lens with the aperture wide open! Here is a little depth-of-field "variety". :-)

3. The building next door (which also appears to be abandonded) apparently used to be a hotel. The only remenants of that history that I could detect were the faded, painted letters on the brick beside the door. I am really not a huge fan of a lot of post processing of photos, but I did try this one out in Black and White - and it seemed to work well. I liked it better than the color version. I actually had to use a fill flash to capture the lettering, it was so faded.

Then I walked around to the side of the building. It appears to have been an alley way there, it was brick, but concrete has been poured over the brick - but there are some really cool pieces of Omaha history in that alley. I will get to those in a minute... There is a grassy lot to the north of it now, but I suspect there were buildings there at one time. Hmmm...I wonder who owns that lot??? (My money is on Creighton!)

4.There is a door on the side of the building that must have been the entrance to the apartments. There was a main door, now boarded shut and a screen door.

5. I wonder who tied that piece of fabric there? Were they trying to keep the door open? Or closed?

6.  The alley. The far building is the one that I originally began photographing. But when I reached the alley I say this amazing creeping vine. I have no idea what it is. I scoured the internet looking for a match - but found none. The closest thing I could find was some wild grapes. But the leaves are turning, and they look stunning against the red building behind the primary one. The red building is currently a warehouse for Sols Jewelry and Loan a local pawn shop. This is the back of the building.

7. YOU BUY. Omaha has always been very consumer driven. This is an old painted advertisement on the side of the building, just as you turn into the alley. I could not make out the rest.

8. Berries? Grapes? I don't know, but the vine was everywhere, and has started migrating onto Koory's Variety Shop.

9. The coal shute. Old School.

10. Just totally in love with is creeping vine. Love Autumn colors, and my 50MM prime!

11. I don't know how long it takes one of those vines to grow - but that's a pretty good security system. I doubt anyone is going through that door.

12. Again, the vine. Please forgive me - I am quite mad about the colors!

13. J. What is it? No clue. It was on what looks lilke an old electricity post. But I thought it looked cool.

14. This is one of the two utility hole covers that I found in the alley. This one is stamped OEL&PCo. Anyone? Anyone? OK, I looked it up. The OPPD website says that it absorbed the "Omaha Electrical Light and Power Company" in 1916, when it was formed. I am thinking, that's a really old cover. Kewl. I wonder how many of those are still around?

16. The second utility hole cover that I found reads "Wearne Bros Omaha NEB". I did a little internet digging on this company - and in fact the state of Nebraska has this company listed as a foundry in 1912. Kewl again. Ever seen one of these? I haven't before today!

I spent about an hour making these (and many more that I didn't post) images this morning. And I only walked about 1 1/2 blocks. I was excited to share these images, and my interest has be perked up to find out a little more about the city. Hopefully - I can call it home, and mean it.

Thanks for reading - if you made it this far!!! Please feel free to comment on any of the images, or what I have written. Love to hear from you!

Umm Nidal


  1. Just be sure you don't go there at night :)

  2. I found a reference to a drug seizure (two actually) in 1954, when Koory's was open. Owner listed as Allison or Abie Koory.

  3. Oh, and Abie Koory married Maxine Maucher 7/9/54, when both were 37.

  4. The first picture is of a "lag screw head" and they are used for "detachable pole steps" used by line workers. There are probably pole steps higher up the pole. Also, the Omaha Electric Light & Power Company was a forerunner to the Nebraska Power Company. The latter utility became OPPD just after World War II. Sources: The Lineman's Handbook by Kurtz, 2nd edition, 1942. The Only State by Don Schaufelberger and Bill Beck, Chapter 11.

  5. I love old buildings­čśŹ so much im so bothered when theu demolish them.

  6. I love old buildings­čśŹ so much im so bothered when theu demolish them.