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The Omaha Reader

Bi-weekly conversations about the biggest issues in Omaha and the diverse and creative people trying to change them from Omaha‘s alternative newspaper for 27 years running, The Omaha Reader. read less

The Cities We Build and What it Takes to Get There
Jun 6 2022
The Cities We Build and What it Takes to Get There
Sometimes it's hard to forget that cities don't just appear. Omaha's office buildings and suburbs, highways and cobblestone sidewalks, are pinpoints in a constellation of decisions made year after year, decade after decade, that define a place, and more importantly the lives of the people who live there. "You know, these houses don't really belong to us," said Ryan Reed, who runs East of 72nd, an Instagram account that tells the stories of Omaha's buildings. "You go down to the courthouse and go to the assessor's office and your name is on the deed, but they belong to the people before us and they belong to the people after us. So it's kind of like, part of our community and telling the story of our community." But when development hits the crossroads of new vs. old, how do we decide what's worth keeping and what's worth taking away? Omaha has had to grapple with that question recently with the decision to raze its central public library to make way for a new Mutual of Omaha skyscraper which many in the public fought, unsuccessfully, to stop. It's a similar fight that's taken place in other areas of the city like Jobbers Canyon on the city's riverfront, the largest destruction of historic architecture in the country. The advantages seem obvious, but what stories, history and opportunities do you lose? Reporter Chris Bowling drove around with Reed to hear about what he's learned about that by researching the past of Omaha's buildings — from historic homes to downtown success stories to a former church with a disturbing past.   Produced by Chris Bowling Music by Jon Rix (p0h_k