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

By Janet R. Daly-Bednarek | Go to book overview

ONE
New Ideas and Changing Images

T he 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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The Changing Image of the City: Planning for Downtown Omaha, 1945-1973
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • One - New Ideas and Changing Images 1
  • Two - The Changing City: Omaha, 1945-1973 41
  • Three - Setting the Agenda: Planning, 1933-1945 77
  • Conclusion 104
  • Four - Traditional Planning for a Traditional City, 1945-1958 107
  • Conclusion 147
  • Five - A City in Transition, 1958-1966 149
  • Six - A "New City," a New Image: Planning, 1966-1973 187
  • Conclusion 224
  • Epilogue 227
  • Notes 237
  • Bibliography 267
  • Index 277
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