"Hast ever been in Omaha, where rolls the dark Missouri down;
And four strong horses scarce can draw an empty wagon through town?
Where sand is blown from ever mound to fill the eyes and ears and throat;
Where all the steamers are aground and all the shanties are afloat?
Where whiskey shops the livelong night are vending out their poison juice;
Where men are often very tight, and women deemed a trifle loose?
Where taverns have an anxious guest for every corner, shelf and crack;
With half the people going west, and all the others going back?
Where theaters are all the run, and bloody scalpers come to trade;
Where everything is overdone and everybody underpaid?
If not, take heed to what I say: You'll find it just as I have found it;
And if it lies upon your way, for God's sake, reader, go around it!"
Poem from 1869 Harper's Magazine
This is a review of "A Dirty Wicked Town", a great book about Omaha in the 1800s. Omaha was far from a top ten city as recently named and described in a few post below by Richard Weston.
Another book on early Omaha that I would recommend is, "Historic Photos of Omaha" containing excellent photos of Omaha from the 1850s through the 1960s.