publications

A Plea for Parks

In the mellow days of “Indian summer,” many Nebraskans head to the park for a last dose of

outdoor recreation before the chill of winter. Most of us don’t think much about our parks, or

the foresight of community builders who set aside lands for the enjoyment of future

generations.



A hundred years ago, the dedication of real estate for park use was a hotly debated issue. The

Board of Park Commissioners of Omaha sought advice from a professional–H. W. S.

Cleveland, designer of Minneapolis’s park and boulevard system. Cleveland wrote a lengthy

report, which was published in an 1899 issue of the Omaha Bee. He counseled, “With free

access to open fields and woods within a mile or two, we think of parks only as luxuries, but

when the distance is so increased that a day must be devoted to the journey in order to secure

the boon of green fields and fresh air, the sense of confinement becomes stifling and we

mourn the folly which prevented us from foreseeing and providing for the certain want.”



“Omaha already contains more than 100,000 and at present is in no pressing need of a 400-

acre park. It would be a luxury now, the want of which is not seriously felt because the

woods and fields lie all around within easy access. But it will be an urgent necessity when

the population has come to be half a million, and unless that necessity is provided for today,

its relief will then be impossible except at such a distance as will in great measure defeat the

object.



“Your city is yet in its infancy. Its situation is such that is must of necessity become a central

point of distribution and supply for the vast regions whose resources of wealth are almost

beyond conception, and the development of which has hardly begun. In view of these

resources, and watching as you do the steady tramp of armies which year after year are

marching through your streets to their conquest, do you still lack faith in the future of your

city? Or do you shrink from proving your faith by your works? You have seen by the data I

have cited how other cities have suffered from delay. Can you hope to escape the same

penalties if you fail to take warning from their experience?”



Fortunately for all of us, Cleveland’s advice (and designs) were eventually taken, resulting in

the largest city park and boulevard system in Nebraska.

Note: Indian was used instead of Native American as was the norm at the time.

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast.

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.