Period of Significance: 1886-1953
Architect: Various, including Louis Mendelssohn, George Fisher, Henry Lawrie, and Thomas Kimball
Style: Late 19th and early 20th Century American Movements
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places: 07/19/1996
The Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District represents a time, between the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, when rail dominated the nation. After the Union Pacific Railroad, the nation’s first transcontinental railroad, laid the tracks for its main line through downtown, a flurry of construction erupted in the area that became the Omaha Rail and Commerce District. Early buildings included substantial warehouses used for jobbing and manufacturing activities along with smaller service buildings to supply area workers with housing, food, and other goods. All of these businesses benefited from the close proximity of the railroad, which helped to move raw materials and finished products in and out. As a major supplier of products both locally and nationally, the area played a key role in Omaha’s economic development from the 1880s through the first half of the 20th century. Although the changing nature of the city’s economy in the post-World War II period led to a decline of commercial and industrial districts like this one, the area has received new life in recent years following a refocus upon the downtown core as a vital place for residential, retail, and commercial enterprises.