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South Omaha People

People journeyed from many distant lands to this prairie village that grew so rapidly it
was called The Magic City. South Omaha's stockyards and meat-packing plants were
their destination for hope and opportunity. Union Stockyards, founded in 1883,
became a major livestock market due to its location adjacent to river and rail

By 1892 South Omaha had become the nation's third largest meat-packing center.
From 1934 to 1967 it was home to the Big Four packers (Armour, Swift, Cudahy,
Wilson) processing cattle, hogs, and sheep with a system Henry Ford copied for his
car assembly lines. With good paying, unionized jobs, South Omaha's immigrant
communities raised children, developed churches and social clubs. The interracial
labor union played an important role in supporting the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

From 1955 to 1971 the Omaha Stockyards was the world's largest. As marketing and
meat-packing decentralized, the last Big Four packing plant closed in 1976. The
stockyards closed in 1999, leaving only the 1926 Livestock Exchange Building.
However, the people's journey continues.

South Omaha Historical Grants Committee
Metropolitan Community College
Q Merchants Association
South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance
Nebraska State Historical Society, 2012

MCC South Omaha Campus, South 27th & Q streets, Omaha
Douglas County
Marker 495


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Last updated 3 December 2012

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