Naming of Streets in Omaha, Nebraska
From: Omaha: The Gate City
and Douglas County, Nebraska
Arthur C. Wakeley, Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago 1917
HOW THE STREETS WERE NAMED
- Although a number of the first streets were named before the city was incorporated, in 1857 it may be of interest to note in this connection how their names were derived. But after the lapse of more than three score years since the first streets were marked and named, and in the absence of records relating to the subject, it is impossible to give accurate information regarding the origin of the names of some of the city's thoroughfares.
- No explanation is needed concerning the numbered streets, from First to Fifty third. These streets run north and south, beginning with First Street at the Missouri River and numbering consecutively westward to the city limits. The same is true of several streets which bear the names of states, such as Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, etc. Names of trees were given to quite a number of the streets, and in South Omaha twenty six streets running east and west are named for the letters of the alphabet from A to Z inclusive. [Would like to know more about why a decision was made to break from using actual names for streets to letters for just that section.]
- Ames Avenue was named for Oakes Ames, a friend of George Francis Train, one of the promoters of the Union Pacific Railroad and one of the largest stockholders in the Credit Mobilier.
- Bancroft Street was doubtless named for the historian, George Bancroft, whose history of the United States is regarded as the most authentic ever published.
- Bauman Street was named for Otto Bauman, a large property owner and hotel proprietor of early days, who died some years ago at Wiest Point, Neb.
- Blain Street was named for James G. Blaine, of Maine, who was for many years in Congress and served as secretary of state in the cabinet of President Benjamin Harrison.
- Boyd Street was named for James E. Boyd, one of the early settlers of Omaha, mayor of the city in 1886, and in 1890 was elected governor of Nebraska.
- Burdette Street bears the name of Robert Burdette, humorist and lecturer, for many years editor of the Burlington (Iowa) Hawkeye.
- Burt Street was named in honor of Francis Burt, the first territorial governor of Nebraska, who died at Bellevue on October 18, 1854, a few days after his arrival in the territory.
- Caldwell Street was named for Smith S. Caldwell, who came to Omaha in 1859, was one of the early bankers and was elected mayor of the city in 1871.
- California Street is said to have been so named because the gold seekers of the early '50s, on their way to California, landed near the foot of this street upon crossing the Missouri River.
- Capitol Avenue derived its 'name from the fact that it formed the main approach to the old territorial capitol building, which stood on the elevation where the high school is now located.
- Carter Street was named for O. M. Carter, president of the American Savings Bank, one of the early financial institutions, and vice president of the Nebraska Central Railroad Company.
- Cass Street was named for Gem Lewis Cass, of Michigan, a prominent leader in the democratic party and secretary of state in the cabinet of President Buchanan.
- Castellar Street bears the name of Emilio Castelar, a Spanish statesman and journalist, who was born in 1832. In 1865 he made an attack on the Queen in a radical journal, for which he was sentenced to death, but escaped to Switzerland and later to Paris. In 1868 he returned to Spain and five years later was made minister of foreign affairs. Just why his name should have been selected for an Omaha street is not certain. There is also a public school called the Castelar school, in which the name is spelled correctly, with only one "I."
- Clark Street, according to some authorities, was named for S. H. Clark, one of the early superintendents of the Union Pacific Railroad. Others say it was named for William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition which went up the Missouri in 1804.
- Clarkson Street was no doubt named for the Rt. Rev. Robert H. Clarkson, the first bishop of the Nebraska diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church and founder of the Clarkson Memorial Hospital.
- Davenport Street was named by a firm of bankers who came from Davenport, Iowa, and established a bank at Florence. The street was named in honor of their home town and also a leading family of that city.
- Decatur Street was named for Stephen Decatur, an eccentric character of pioneer days, an account of whom may be found in another chapter of this history.
- Dewey Street was named for Charles H. Dewey, who came to Omaha about the close of the Civil war and was for years one of the leading furniture dealers.
- Dodge Street bears the name of a prominent Iowa family, but more particularly the name of Augustus C. Dodge, who introduced the bill in the United States Senate that resulted in the organization of Nebraska Territory in 1854.
- Dorcas Street was named by Samuel E. Rogers for his mother, whose maiden name was Dorcas Kent.
- Douglas Street was named for Stephen A. Douglas, United States Senator from Illinois, who championed the Kansas-Nebraska Bill that resulted in Nebraska becoming an organized territory, and who was the democratic candidate for president in 1860.
- Drexel Street was named for Frederick Drexel, one of Omaha's early settlers, who was elected to the Legislature in 1866 and was at one time county commissioner.
- Dupont Street is so named because the Dupont Powder Company once had a powder house in the grove near Gibson Station. This powder house was blown up - accidently it is supposed - by four young men while out hunting, all of whom were killed by the explosion.
- Ed Creighton Avenue was named for Edward Creighton, founder of Creighton University. John Creighton Boulevard is named for another member of the family.
- Emmet Street was probably named for Robert Emmet, the Irish orator and patriot. as a compliment to some of the Irish pioneers of Omaha.
- Farnham Street was named for Henry Farnam, a banker of Hartford, Conn., who was one of the principal promoters of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad.
- Florence Boulevard was so named because it is the thoroughfare that leads to Florence, a suburban town in the northeastern part of Douglas County.
- Fontenelle Boulevard needs but little explanation to those at all familiar with Omaha history. It bears the name of Logan Fontenélle, the last chief of the Omaha Indians.
- Funston Avenue was named for Gen. Frederick Funston, of Kansas, who won distinction in the Philippine war by the capture of Emilio Agninaldo, the insurgent leader.
- Goodwill Street (now Grand Avenue) was originally named for Taylor G. Goodwill, a member of the upper branch of the first Territorial Legislature and the first treasurer of Douglas County.
- Grover Street bears the first name of Grover Cleveland, the twenty second President of the United States.
- Hamilton Street was named for Charles W. Hamilton, one of the early settlers, who was at one time president of the United States National Bank, and was a member of the first board of education under the present school system.
- Hanscom Boulevard, which connects Hanscom and Deer parks, was named for Andrew J. Hanscom, a member of the first Territorial Legislature, and was for many years prominently identified with Omaha affairs.
- Harney Street bears the name of Gen. William S. Harney, a noted Indian fighter in the days before Nebraska Territory was organized.
- Hascall Street was named for Isaac S. Hascall, county judge of Douglas County in 1865; state senator in 1867 and again in 1871, and who was elected a member of the city council in 1883. and 1887.
- Himebaugh Street was named for Pierce C. Himebaugh, one of the active promoters of the Omaha Young Men's Christian Association, of which he was president for seven years. He was also president of the Dime Savings Bank and vice president of the Omaha Union Grain Company.
- Howard Street, some claim, was named for the father in law of Henry Farnam. Other authorities say it was named for Thomas P. Howard, who was a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 18o4.
- Jones Street's name has been attributed to two individuals of that name Alfred D Jones, who made the first survey of the town of Omaha, and George W. Jones, a prominent figure in Iowa politics in early days. The former is more likely correct, as he was actively identified with Omaha's early history.
- Lafayette Street bears the name of the Marquis de La Fayette, who came from his native France with a large body of soldiers and fought on the side of the American colonists in the War for Independence.
- Lake Street has been considered by some as being inappropriately named, for the reason that there is no lake in the vicinity. It was named for George B. Lake, an early member of the Omaha bar and one of the first justices of the Nebraska Supreme Court when the state was admitted in 1867.
- Leavenworth Street was named for Gen. Henry Leavenworth, a noted military figure in the West in early days, and founder of Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
- Sanderson Street was named for Charles Manderson, a delegate to the constitutional conventions of 1871 and 1875, city attorney of Omaha in 1877, after which he served two terms in the United States Senate.
- Marcy Street was named for William L. Marcy, secretary of war in the cabinet of President Pierce at the time Nebraska Territory was organized.
- Martha Street was named by S. E. Rogers for his wife, whose maiden name was Martha Brown, whom he married in Indiana in 1848.
- Mason Street is said to have been named for Judge Charles Mason, an eminent lawyer and jurist of Iowa in early days.
- Mercer Street, or Boulevard. was named for one of the early families of Omaha, of which Dr. Samuel D. Mercer and David H. Mercer were the best known representatives. The latter was elected to Congress from the Omaha District in 1892.
- Meredith Avenue was in all probability named for John R. Meredith, a native of Pennsylvania, for years one of the leading attorneys of Omaha, a member of the city council in 1868 and one of the incorporators of the Omaha Horse Railway Company.
- Military Avenue derives its name from the fact that it leads to the old military road.
- Miller Street was named for Dr. George L. Miller, the first practicing physician in Omaha and one of the builders of the Herndon House, the first pretentious hotel in the city.
- Orchard Avenue, in South Omaha, is named for Andrew R. and Samuel A. Orchard, who were among the purchasers of the land by patents from the general government on which South Omaha is now situated.
- Oregon Trail is so named because it forms a part of the once famous thoroughfare over which emigrants from the eastern states were accustomed to pass on their way westward.
- Park Wild Avenue (now written Parkwild) derives its names from the claim staked off by Alfred D. Jones before Omaha was surveyed, which he named "Park Wilde."
- Paxton Boulevard and Paxton Avenue are named for William A. Paxton, who was for many years one of Omaha's leading business men.
- Poppleton Avenue was named for Andrew J. Poppleton, the first attorney to locate in Omaha, member of the first Territorial Legislature, and in other ways intimately associated with the city's development.
- Pratt Street is said to have been named after Augustus Pratt, a member of the first board of park commissioners, and at one time a member of the board of education.
- Redick Avenue was named for John I. Redick, one of the pioneer lawyers of Omaha, a member of the Legislature of 1860, and who was appointed one of the territorial judges of New Mexico by President Grant.
- Redman Avenue was named for Joseph Redman, a member of the first board of education, and who was elected to the city council in 1878.
- Riverview Boulevard, a short thoroughfare leading northward from Riverview Park, derives its name from the park and from the fine view of the Missouri River that may be obtained.
- Ruggles Street was named for Gen. George D. Ruggles, who graduated at the West Point Military Academy in '855 and was in command of the garrison at Fort Kearney at the breaking out of the Civil war.
- St. Mary's Avenue takes its name from an institution there in early days known as St. Mary's Convent. The convent is gone but the name still remains.
- Sahler Street, in the northern part of the city; was named for John H. Mahler, who went with 0. D. Richardson to Washington in 1859 "to urge legislation in behalf of the city," and who was the first police judge of Omaha when that office was created in 1868.
- Saratoga Street takes its name from the old Saratoga Precinct on the north side.
- Seward Street is one about whose name there is a difference of opinion. Some are inclined to favor the theory that it was named for William H. Seward, secretary of state in the cabinet of President Lincoln, and others say it was named for H. L. Seward, who was city marshal for a short time in 1871.
- Stone Avenue was named for E. L. Stone, for many years associated with Charles H. Dewey in the furniture business in Omaha
- Templeton Street was named for W. G. Templeton, one of the founders of the Citizens Bank and its first cashier when it was incorporated in 1888.
- Underwood Avenue, in Dundee, was named for W. A. Underwood, president of the American Waterworks Company, which acquired the Omaha Waterworks in 1891. Mr. Underwood was also one of the active promoters of the Nebraska Central Railroad.
- Wakeley Street was named in honor of Eleazer Walceley, who was appointed one of the territorial judges in January, 1857, by President Pierce, and who was for many years a leading member of the Omaha bar.
- William Street, in the southeastern part of the city, was named by S. E. Rogers for his father, William R. Rogers, who came to Omaha in 1854 and died soon after his arrival.
- Woolworth Avenue bears the name of James M. Woolworth, one of Omaha's early and best known lawyers, who was elected city attorney in 1857, a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1871, and was honored by the lawyers of the nation by being chosen president of the American Bar Association.
- There are a number of streets that have been named for eminent American citizens who distinguished themselves in statesmanship or military affairs, to-wit: Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Monroe, Pierce, Polk, Sherman, Taylor, Washington and Webster. No explanation is necessary as to the origin of those names. In like manner, Cuming and Izard streets bear the names of the first territorial secretary and one of the territorial governors.
- In the southern part of the city there is a short street, one block in length, running from Twenty first to Twenty second Street, which was once known as "Turkey Lane." The adoption of this name has been thus explained: "The belief is that in the early days the people living on this street were lovers of turkeys, and that these proud birds of the Thanksgiving season strutted up and down the street without molestation."
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