Omaha is an Indian word meaning "above all others upon a stream," which is fitting since the Missouri River played an important part in the city's growth. Built on land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, Omaha was originally laid out by a ferry company operating between Iowa and the new Nebraska territory. Lewis and Clark journeyed through the area in the early 19th century and soon after, Mormons established the area's first non-Native American settlement. Omaha was incorporated in 1855 and continued to grow. The city soon became a thriving commercial and cultural center, especially after President Lincoln chose the area as the location of the eastern terminus of the first transcontinental railroad. The Union Pacific Railroad's headquarters are still located in Omaha.
Agriculture and livestock are an integral part of Omaha's heritage. Today, the Omaha economy has been diversified to include the manufacturing and service industries as well. Food processing is an important industry and Omaha enjoys the corporate presence of the Kellogg and Vlasic companies. Mutual of Omaha, Guarantee Mutual, Woodmen of the World and Physicians Mutual are four of the more than 20 insurance companies with home offices in Omaha. In addition to Union Pacific and Mutual of Omaha, several other Fortune 500 companies including Berkshire Hathaway, ConAgra Foods and Peter Kiewit Sons call Omaha home. Millard, a suburban area in southwest Omaha, is enjoying rapid population growth thanks to an influx of businesses to the area and the expansion of the interstate highway that connects it with the heart of Omaha. Omaha is also home to Offutt Air Force Base and many government related contractors, bringing a diversified group of people from all parts of the world.
Parks & Recreation
The city of Omaha has several thousand acres of parkland and naturally, recreational opportunities in West Omaha are unlimited. Lake Zorinksy and Lake Wehrspann provide areas for boating, fishing, jogging and bicycling. Fontenelle Forest borders Bellevue and boasts miles of trails for hiking and nature studies. Tranquility Park in northwestern Omaha is popular for its ice rink and soccer fields, while Standing BEAR and Cunningham lakes provide sailing and fishing opportunities. Omaha is also the home of the world-renowned Henry Doorly Zoo. The zoo's world-class aquarium, the Lied Jungle exhibit, an enclosed rain forest and the new Wildlife Safari Park make it one of the most highly regarded zoos in the country. Of course, everyone knows Omaha is the home of the College World Series too, bringing fun, excitement and thousands of visitors every year to enjoy America's #1 sport and great city.
Education is a high priority in West Omaha. SAT and ACT scores are consistently above the state and national averages. There are also plenty of post-secondary schools in the Omaha metropolitan area. Award-winning, nationally recognized Westside Community School District 66 has an overall elementary student-teacher ratio of 20:1 and class sizes fewer than 25 students. Millard Public Schools is the third-largest public school system in Nebraska and serves more than 18,000 West Omaha students.
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