Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Professor Harl A. Dalstromi

Second Advisor

Dr. Jerold Simmons

Third Advisor

Dr. JoAnn Carrigan

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kent Kirwani


By 1954, the year President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a national housing act, one hundred years had passed since a group of Iowa businessmen crossed the Missouri River and surveyed Omaha City. The townsite formed the only metropolis in Nebraska at the midpoint of the twentieth century. Suffering from age and neglect, sections in and around the downtown core of Omaha became the object of a controversial crusade by civic leaders. A variety of business, labor, professional and government interests accepted the Eisenhower legislation as a practical way to rebuild the deteriorated areas. The law contained a slum clearance scheme called "urban renewal" that provided federal funds to municipal governments, which could hire private contractors to redevelop an area in compliance with a federally approved plan. The urban renewal concept met stiff, angry opposition from the Omaha public. A majority of the voters. believing that it trespassed on individual property rights, rejected the program. The vocal opponents expounded the argument that the renewal method misused the power of eminent domain by reselling seized property to private developers. Proponents stressed that numerous state courts upheld the law as beneficial to the common good, but they failed to arouse a community spirit supportive of redevelopment. Urban renewal frightened many Omahans, who distrusted the complicated program so avidly pursued by business and labor organizations.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of History and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1981 Donald Louis Stevens, Jr.

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