Old Omaha Photos

Vintage photos from the Omaha World-Herald archive. See more photos (old and new) at Omaha.com/viewfinder.


Old Omaha Photos

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From the Archives: Young Omaha zoo gorilla comes down with chicken pox

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City employee Terry Cuevas spreads a mixture of solvent and gasoline on the infield at Rosenblatt Stadium in this photo that ran April 26, 1985, in an effort to dry out the field enough to cover it with a tarp. The tarp wasn’t laid on the field, which was then soaked from an overnight rainfall. The Omaha Royals were unable to play a game scheduled against the Iowa Cubs because of the rainy weather. THE WORLD-HERALD

From the Archives: Intentional fire on Rosenblatt Stadium's infield

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When Penelope, a hefty pink Yorkshire hog, takes a dip in the water tank on a hot summer day at the Henry Doorly Zoo, the other animals don’t stand a chance. In this photo, which ran Aug. 26, 1969, under the headline “How to Get a Goat’s Goat,” Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Paulsen of Omaha and their 1½-year-old daughter, Jenifer, watch as Rasputin the goat politely urges Penelope to hurry it up a bit. THE WORLD-HERALD

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In 1958, Helen Worley was awarded the Omaha Exchange Club’s third annual Golden Deed Award. The following February, she received an Omaha Good Neighbor Award. Among her works: She collected furniture and clothing for those in need; she helped an Omaha soldier overseas break through the red tape and return home to his dying mother; and while working as a matron in the city and county jails, she arranged medical aid and help for the women prisoners.

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Water Follies dancing star Lucille Wray reunites with her father, Omaha attorney Carl F. Benjamin on July 19, 1947. The two hadn’t seen each other in seven years. Wray was born in Omaha, attended Central High School and began her dancing career here. She appeared in several Broadway productions and was invited to join the ballet corps of the Metropolitan Opera. With the Water Follies, Wray performs a “butterfly dance” in which she wears two fabric wings, each with a span of 20 feet.

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In 1936, Council Bluffs commemorated the 100th anniversary of the arrival of white settlers in the city and southwest Iowa. The four-day Council Bluffs Centennial celebration included a historic pageant (in which 600 people acted out significant moments in the region’s history), a parade, a political rally and a golf tournament. In this photo, which ran Aug. 9, 1936, Marian Budatz, Martha Oliver, Beverly Mendelsen and Betty Flack appeared in “The Creation Ballet." THE WORLD-HERALD

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“That old wagon wheel hanging from the ceiling stirs kind of a challenge,” said Crump Redding. Then the 61-year-old Aurora, Nebraska, man kicked his right leg up and touched the rim of the wheel — 7 feet, 6 inches above the floor. This Feb. 13, 1983 photo shows the popular frontier sport of high kicking. Redding got his kick in at Ole’s Big Game Lounge in Paxton, Nebraska, where the crowd roared with approval after the feat. THE WORLD-HERALD

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Mrs. Bryce Miller purchases yellow oleo margarine in Hamburg, Iowa, in this World-Herald photo taken July 6, 1953. Newly passed legislation removed tax restrictions on oleo sold in Iowa and permitted stores to sell it with a yellow color. Before the law, grocers in Hamburg had to compete with Nebraska and Missouri stores, where customers could buy colored margarine. “I’ve always used oleo,” Miller said, “and now I think it’s wonderful that I can buy it — like I want it — right here in Hamburg.”

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Smoke from dozens of stacks clouds downtown Omaha in this photo that ran in the February 16, 1967, edition of The World-Herald. It was shot Feb. 2 about 8 a.m. from the fifteenth floor of the Northern Natural Gas building, looking southeast. A photo caption at the time indicated that local officials were studying air pollution from industry, dumps and automobiles. THE WORLD-HERALD

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The arrival of the Peaches record “superstore” in Omaha, shown in this Aug. 20, 1979, photo, might have spelled doom for smaller stores. Instead, its presence seemed to be a shot in the arm for the local industry. “You can have one gas station on a corner and it does well, but if you have gas stations on all four corners, all of them do better,” said Bob Swan, chain buyer for electronics and records for Richman Gordman stores. Peaches opened May 25 of that year near 75th & Pacific Streets.

From the Archives: Peaches record 'superstore' opens in 1979

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A story that ran in the April 11, 1982, edition of The World-Herald explored the trend of women taking apprenticeships in careers that were usually reserved for men. Equipment operator Sylvia Odvody was a mother of three who made quick work of learning how to operate bulldozers and payloaders. After all, the 39-year-old “was raised on a farm near Fremont and already knew how to drive a tractor.” THE WORLD-HERALD

From the Archives: Apprentice mom makes quick work of learning how to operate bulldozers, payloaders

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Folks loved their java jive in this Nov. 17, 1959, photo as a cold wave set a new low mark for the Omaha area. The mercury reached three above zero at 8:30 p.m. the night earlier, beating the previous record low for Nov. 16 of 5 above, set in 1955. The phrase “near zero” was used again and again as shoppers and others prepared to brave the cold. THE WORLD-HERALD

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Allen O’Donnell’s support of Sen. Ted Kennedy might have raised eyebrows in the months leading up to the 1980 presidential election. After all, the New York native who came to Nebraska about a decade earlier had previously encouraged residents to vote for incumbent Jimmy Carter. But the former national Democratic Party committeeman for Nebraska came to believe that Kennedy was the best fit for the White House. - Oct. 21, 1979. THE WORLD-HERALD

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Emmy Gifford and actresses Alison Teal, Ann Kennedy and Mary Campbell in costume for the Omaha Junior League’s production of “Grandmother’s Magic Clock” at the Joslyn Concert Hall. This photo of the performers ran April 18, 1954. Written by Omahan Val Teal, the play for youths delved into the city’s history through a family’s covered-wagon trip west. THE WORLD-HERALD

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Three local groups — the Omaha Women’s Club, and the North and South Side Women’s Clubs — bought this renovated bus to help take area youths from city parks to a day camp at Hummel Park. In this photo that ran May 22, 1951, shop foreman Ray Lee puts finishing touches on the exterior of the bus, which was designed to hold up to 50 children. THE WORLD-HERALD

From the Archives: Omaha women's clubs buy bus to get kids to day camp

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On April 17, 1961, the elder citizens (issei) of the Japanese-American community were honored by their children (nisei) at a banquet at the A-Ri-Rang Club. Here, honored guest Joe Okuda, 67, dines with 3-year-old Pamela and 4-year-old Terry, the children of Harry Watanabe, another of the honored guests. Said Robert Nakadoi, chairman of the Omaha chapter of the Japanese-American Citizens League: “We do not forget their effort or what they have done.” THE WORLD-HERALD

From the Archives: Japanese-American elders honored during 1961 banquet

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The Omaha Benson bench explodes on March 7, 1957, when a victory over Fremont in the North Omaha Class AA Regional Basketball Tournament was cemented. The Bunnies, who had won two of 16 games going into the matchup, won 53-40 over Fremont, which was No. 1 in the state. “Benson’s crafty coach” Scotty Orcutt is at right. THE WORLD-HERALD

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They were the Races of the Century! On June 25, 1954, kids between 3½ and 6 years old raced their pedal cars and tricycles down Douglas between 15th and 16th Streets. Officials started the races with green and checkered flags and judged the finishes, and a loud speaker played sounds from the Indianapolis Speedway. But the kids provided all the entertainment. THE WORLD-HERALD

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In June 1982, the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium donated most of its collection of mounted animal heads, horns and a few entire animal specimens to the University of Nebraska for display at the State Museum. The collection’s 102 pieces ranged in age from 30 to nearly 100 years old, and represented animals from all over the world. Said zoo Director Lee Simmons: “A zoo is not really the place for dead specimens.” Here, 4-year-old Karan Szatko of Ralston eyes the polar bear. THE WORLD-HERALD

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This road resurfacing crew found an oasis on Sept. 8, 1959, when three young girls began giving away coffee and soft drinks. Cynthia, 8, Kathleen Tollander, 7, and Linda Spain, 8, set up shop on the 6100 block of North 24th Street. Among their customers: Russ Fisher, left, laydown foreman, and Paul Craig, city inspector. “This type of thing doesn’t happen often,” Craig said, “but it certainly makes you feel good, and it’s appreciated.” THE WORLD-HERALD

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In this November 1989 photo, a workman, using hay bales as a ladder, cuts holes in the loft of the red barn at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. This was to allow the pigeons to come and go as they pleased during the winter months. THE WORLD-HERALD

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Barbara (Bobbi) Ohlhoff, a 24-year-old nurse from New York, gets a boost onto a horse from an 8-year-old cowboy, David. Bobbi and her sister, Anita, were venturing across the country to San Francisco in March 1963. While in Nebraska, they stopped at Y Lazy Y Ranch in Box Elder Canyon, where the pair saw their first cows, steers and calves. “This has just been perfect,” Bobbi said. “We just can’t get over how friendly and concerned everybody is in Nebraska to perfect strangers.” THE WORLD-HERALD

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Six-year-old Dee Dee Odorisio got a unique view of the March 7, 1970, partial solar eclipse by watching through a neighbor’s welding mask. The eclipse started around 11 a.m. and ended about 1:23 p.m., and its most noticeable meteorological effect was a dip in solar radiation. THE WORLD-HERALD

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Elsa Lundgren, a librarian at the Council Bluffs Public Library. An Oct. 19, 1954, story talks about the thousands of questions that pour into the library each year and the pace Lundgren must keep to find the books to answer them. Among the inquiries: How do you cook a raccoon? How do you cut down an upright piano? Where do holes in cheese come from? THE WORLD-HERALD

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Bill O’Hearn, a former Omaha swimming instructor, and several of his old students at a 10-year reunion of the Peony Park Swim Club, then known as the Fehrs Swim Club. About a dozen former star pupils on July 3, 1960, met O’Hearn, who had since moved to Houston, where he sold swimming pools and continued coaching swimming. Among those attending was Judy Macy Bendorf, who finished fifth in the 1957 world amateur standings for the 100-yard butterfly. THE WORLD-HERALD

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