Omaha Park and Boulevard System
City Planning and the Industrialization of America

Late nineteenth century America experienced a degree of industrialization that added new challenges to the lives of city dwellers. Omaha, Nebraska, was no exception to this changing face of the nation.

The map at the left pictures the Omaha of 1889. At the time, Omaha was an expanding frontier town that was comprised of residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, roads, horse paths, electric and cable railways and approximatley 100,000 people who were embracing the advances of an increasingly industrialized nation.

Though elements of Omaha's city planning effort predate the American "City Beautiful" movement, our pioneer desire for open space saw comparisons in other cities, such as New York's Central Park.

In 1882, the Omaha Board of Public Works was created with James Creighton as its first chairman. As a result of state legislation seeking to enhance city planning efforts and the nature of city life, Omaha formed a park commission. These efforts were among the earliest zoning efforts in the young city.

Though little remains of the original design, Horace W. Cleveland was called upon in 1889 by the park commission to design a system of green space and recreational areas for Omaha. It was later decided that this system of parks should be joined by a system of attractively designed boulevards. The boulevards would be a showcase for the city of Omaha that would, while accommodating two or four lanes of traffic, be lined with trees and other attractive landscaping features.

At the time of its early development, the boulevard system connected parks that were distributed somewhat evenly throughout the inhabited edges of the city.

While the Omaha park and boulevard system was never completely realized, the modern remains of the plan can proudly take their place among Omaha's historic districts.

Below are links to pictures of Omaha's park and boulevard system as it appeared one Saturday afternoon in November 2001, 112 years after its original conception.

Florence Boulevard Miller Park lagoon
Miller Park
Kountze Park
Carter Boulevard
Carter Lake
Levi Carter Park bridge
Levi Carter Park
Fontenelle Boulevard
Paxton Boulevard
Fontenelle Park lagoon
Fontenelle Park lagoon, modern development
Happy Hollow Boulevard #1
Happy Hollow Boulevard #2
Elmwood Park modern entrance sign
Elmwood Park
J. A. Creighton Boulevard Adams Park
Lincoln Boulevard Bemis Park
Riverview Boulevard Hanscom Park lagoon
Hanscom Park
Riverview Park
Spring Lake Park

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