Automobiles News

Omaha’s auto-biography on automobile history on display


OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Omaha’s rich history of the automobile is on full display in an exhibit at the Douglas City Historical Society. The exhibit examines the city’s love affair with motor vehicles.

The story of the automobile in Omaha dates back to the Model T. Officials at the Douglas County Historical Society believe it is an important story to tell.

“It’s influenced a lot of how the community operates right from the beginning when we needed to lower streets‚ it’s just influenced a lot of how Omahans have lived,” said Kathy Aultz, executive director of Douglas County Historical Society.

The exhibit also examines how the city expanded to the west and how that has played a role in where car dealers set up shop.

“The core of the city was downtown and that made sense for auto row to be downtown, then it moved further west and then we had for a long time it was on l street and it’s just gradually moved further and further west as the community has expanded and grown,” said Aultz.

Some of the exhibits here will drive people right now memory lane.

The drive-thru exhibit shows how the automobile gave us lunch and dinner on the go and a place to show off our vehicles.

“A lot of people who come in remember the one drive-in that all their high school and classmates hung out at and had a lot of memories associated with that, the car that they took to the drive-in, the food all that stuff.”

There’s also a collection of license plates on display that show examples of decades of Nebraska car tags.

“Before license plates were regulated to be metal in 1915 they were leather so we have a 1914 leather plate upon the wall.”

It’s not the intention of the historical society but it’s kind of ironic that the exhibit about automobiles in Omaha comes at a time when the city is poised to bring streetcars back.

“We wanted to just look back at kind of that growth of the automobile and how that has influenced us and I think that telling the story of the automobile and the increased number of cars on the roads and the dependence of the automobile does in fact reflect on needing mass transportation because you can only get so many cars on the road,” said Aultz.

Omaha’s auto-biography will be on display through May of next year.

There is a free event scheduled next Sunday, August 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be vintage automobiles on display and free admission to the museum.

For more information go to the Douglas City Historical Society or call 402-455-9990.

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