Case Study: South Omaha

Omaha has long been a diverse, yet highly segregated, cultural landscape. It has been referred to as “immigrant city” and, in fact, arose as two cities- Omaha and South Omaha. Early immigrants came from Italy, Poland, Bohemia, Russia, and later Germany. In the 1800s, The City of South Omaha was called “Magic City” given its rapid growth that centered around the meatpacking industry. Beginning in the 1990s, the meatpacking industry was transformed by an influx of Mexican workers and their families. Census tracts in South Omaha are now occupied by a predominantly Latino population.

Front yard enclosure (chain link), yard art and religious shrine

Front yard enclosure (chain link), yard art and religious shrine

Geographers have described the “Idealized” Mexican American housescapes of the American Southwest- particularly in Tucson, Tempe, and Phoenix in Arizona as well as in Santa Fe, New Mexico ; San Antonio, Texas; and East Los Angeles (Arreola 1988; Manager 2000).
“ … The use of front yard enclosures, vivid exterior colors, and the occasional use of religious shrines together form an ‘idealized’ residential landscape that is diagnostic of Mexican American neighborhoods.” (Manager 200:1).

Front yard enclosure, bright house colors, horse figurines, and hand-painted artwork

Front yard enclosure, bright house colors, horse figurines,
and hand-painted artwork

Front yard art and religious shrine

Front yard art and religious shrine