January 27, 2012

Early History of Omaha

"It requires but little, if any, stretch of the imagination to regard Omaha as a cesspool of iniquity, for it is given up to lawlessness and is overrun with a horde of fugitives from justice and dangerous men of all kinds who carry things with a high hand and a loose rein. If you want to find a rogue's rookery, go to Omaha."  Taken from a Kansas City newspaper
"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.

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