The Changing Image of the City: Planning for Downtown Omaha, 1945-1973

The Changing Image of the City: Planning for Downtown Omaha, 1945-1973

The Changing Image of the City: Planning for Downtown Omaha, 1945-1973

The Changing Image of the City: Planning for Downtown Omaha, 1945-1973

Synopsis

The Changing Image of the City describes urban planning and development from the end of World War II to 1973, when major elements of the design of Nebraska's largest city were in place. Janet Daly-Bednarek shows how the appraches to planning shifted during a period that saw Omaha change from a hub of food processing and transportation to a postindustrial center dominated by insurance and by educational, medical, and other services. Finally, she surveys recent developments such as the Central Park Mall and the Old Market area in light of earlier plans and their implementation.In considering the changes that have occurred in Omaha, this book reveals much about the growth of professional urban planning in America. In Omaha, as elsewhere, planners dealt with power brokers, coped with rampant suburbanism and sprawling shopping malls, searched for ways to reverse the inner-city decay, and concerned themselves with historic preservation, beautification, and quality of life.A native of Omaha, Janet R. Daly-Bednarek holds a Ph. D. degree in history from the University of Pittsburgh and is now employed in the U. S. Air Force's history program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio.

Excerpt

The post-World War II years were a time of dramatic change in cities throughout the United States. Central cities decayed, losing industry, population, and hope, while suburban fringes blossomed as young families sought the green-lawned havens of single-family dwellings in which they could live the American Dream. Even the Sunbelt Cities of the South and West, fabled for their dramatic expansion, experienced growing pains as demands for services escalated beyond the limits of municipal financing. Urban advocates and critics alike declared that the United States was the victim of an urban crisis. Some even confidently predicted the death of the American city.

Reflecting national trends, Omaha, Nebraska, went through a number of remarkable transformations. It grew in both physical size and population. The economic base shifted from a dominance of meat and grain processing, transportation, and wholesaling to a dominance of retailing, finance, government, and services. Omahans became more educated, more white collar. In Omaha as elsewhere, the downtown, once the city's shining glory, withered as expansive shopping malls thrived, fed by their natural ally the automobile.

Beyond the real and serious problems of Omaha and other urban areas, however, another transformation took place: a change in the image of the city. City planners in the immediate postwar years, at both the local and national levels, viewed the city primarily as a place to work, a place that functioned to hold industry and jobs. Consequently, city plans focused . . .

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