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Aerial Omaha: 1938

Aerial Omaha: 1938

        UPDATE: Our vantage point for this view north along 14th Street is the Woodmen of the World tower at 1323 Farnam.

November 1938. "Omaha, Nebraska." Gateway to the West. Medium format negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Win some, lose some

Between the Oaks Bar and the Nebraska theater is a campaign office with banners for 19938 candidacies of (James T.) English for (Douglas) County Attorney, and (Frank) McGrath for (Douglas County) Clerk of Court. English won, and later became a state-court judge. McGrath, an incumbent mired in scandals, lost.

Location, Location, Location?

I believe this photo was taken from a building on the southeast corner of 14th and Farnam. In an aerial photo from the early 1950s I can see a tall building located at that corner.

Furthermore, in that aerial photo I can clearly see the Hotel Fontenelle a few blocks to the west at 1806 Douglas and I can positively identify the fronts of the buildings in the 1300 block of Douglas where Palace Billiards and the Oaks Bar were.

[You are correct about the location (my first guess, the Hotel Fontenelle, is on the wrong block). Which means our vantage point is the 19-story Woodmen of the World headquarters, at the time of its completion in 1912 the tallest building between Chicago and the West Coast. - Dave]

No Apartments Available

The three story brick building being demolished was an apartment building offered for sale in January 1937. Directly across the street from it was the “Hummel Auto Shed” and the Omaha World Herald delivery truck garage and parking lot and the vacant space diagonally across the street was the site of the Jefferson Hotel, demolished in 1935.


Anyone aware of what the contraption is on top of the building on the left. I see fan units. Was this an air conditioning system? If so it is very narrow.

Gateway to the West

Just a minute, that nickname belongs to my native city, Winnipeg, Manitoba. But wait, Wikipedia points out that it also refers to no fewer than 6 cities in the US (Fargo, Fort Wayne, Omaha, St. Louis and the Gateway Arch, Kansas City, Pittsburgh) and one whole state (Oklahoma, although particularly Tulsa).

Pay no attention

I'm assuming that this picture was taken from an airplane, so it's interesting that none of the many people on the street are looking up at the photographer. It seems like an airplane flying low over the downtown area would attract a lot of attention!

[The photo was taken from the Woodmen of the World building at 1323 Farnam Street. - Dave]

Scorch marks

So what was the commercial establishment that burned at the corner of 14th and Capitol? Whatever it might have been, the fire appears to have thoroughly gutted the place.

Brand new Ford Tudor

The car almost directly in front of the "Nebraska" is a new 1938 Standard Ford V8. I've had one of these since the late 1970's. Once considered the ugly duckling of the 30's by almost everyone is now kinda good looking. Kinda.

What Depression?

For a small city during the worst of the later Depression years, this photo portrays an impressive proportion of late model vehicles. As opposed to the trucks, the great majority of the cars seen here are within 3 or 4 years of age if not newer -- a mix probably not excelled in most U.S. localities today.

Three Corner Taverns

Interesting to note the small corner taverns in the Omaha photographs: in the “Omaha Suds” image, in the Theodore's Place image, and the Oaks Tavern in this image. Three corner taverns, each about the same size and height, although some more decorated than the other. I wonder how many others existed?

Across the street is the Paris Bar and Billiards. Oaks and Paris advertised together.

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