History of Lincoln
Before the arrival of the Europeans, the area of present-day Lincoln was inhabited by the Pawnee Native Americans, who mostly engaged in buffalo hunting. The first Europeans to pass through the area were the members of the Francisco Vasquez de Coronado expedition, in 1541. The French fur traders came in the early 18th century but the area experienced true growth only after it was included in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the area in 1804. The Nebraska Territory was established in 1854 and its capital was Omaha. Lincoln was founded in 1856 as a village named Lancaster.
Even though Omaha was the territorial capital, most of the population lived south of the Platte River, in a region that seriously considered annexation to Kansas. In order to prevent that, the legislature decided to move the capital to some other place, located in the southern region. Lancaster seemed appropriate, mostly because its area had a lot of salt flats and marshes. Logically, Omaha was not pleased and tried to sabotage Lancaster by renaming it after President Lincoln. Most of the population south of the Platte River was loyal to Confederates, and it was believed that the legislature would never move the capital to a place named after the most prominent Union leader. This ploy did not work and Lancaster, now called Lincoln, became the capital as soon as Nebraska was admitted to the Union, which was on March 1, 1867. The city grew rapidly after it became the state capital. It no longer relied solely on ranching and trade, but also on state and local government.
Geography and Climate
Unlike most large cities in Nebraska, Lincoln is not located on either the Missouri River or the Platte River, the two largest rivers in the state. It was originally founded in the vicinity of Salt Creek, which flows towards the Platte River to the northeast, and in an area of saline wetlands, however over the years it outgrew its original location and today its area also includes gently rolling prairie. Lincoln is located at 1,167 feet. The city has a humid continental climate, like the rest of the eastern Nebraska (the western portion has a semi-arid climate).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 Lincoln had a population of 258,379. The racial makeup in Lincoln in 2010 was 86% White, 6.3% Hispanic or Latino, 3.8% Black or African American, 3.8% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3% two or more races and 2.5% of some other race. The median age was 31.8.
In 2000, the median household income was $40,605 and the per capita income was $20,984.
Because it was designated as a refugee-friendly city, Lincoln welcomed a large number of refugees, especially from Vietnam, but from other countries as well. Today it is home to a number of well-integrated ethnic communities.
Economy and Business
In 2005, Lincoln was chosen by Forbes as the seventh Best Small Metro for business and careers. Since its area has always depended economically on livestock and grain production, Lincoln was developed as a distribution and wholesaling hub, which it still is today. Some of the major industries in and around the city are manufacture of locomotives, grain storage, flour milling and various manufacturing activities. State government and the University of Nebraska employ a quarter of the city’s working residents. Other sectors include banking, insurance, call centers, information technology, as well as truck and rail transport.
Some of the large national businesses that originated from Lincoln include Fort Western Stores, Nelnet, HobbyTown USA, as well as restaurant chains Valentino’s and Runza Restaurants.
Lincoln is a city with fairly low taxes and high quality services.
The city has only one school district with six traditional high schools and several special interest high schools.
The largest institution of higher education is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the flagship campus of the University of Nebraska. The university is a member of the Big Ten Conference and is probably best known for its football team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In total, it has 21 teams in 14 NCAA Division I sports.
Other institutions include Nebraska Wesleyan University, Union College, Southeast Community College and BryanLGH College of Health Sciences.
Culture and Attractions
Some of the attractions in Lincoln include the Nebraska State Capitol Building, Folsom Children’s Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Antelope Park, the Kennard House and the Governor’s Mansion.
Lincoln has a thriving cultural life, with institutions such as the Lincoln Symphony, Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company, the Nebraska Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, the Museum of Nebraska History, Mueller Planetarium, Great Plains Art Collection and the University of Nebraska’s State Museum’s Elephant Hall with the world’s largest fossil elephant.
Lincoln is home to several major names in popular music, such as Zager and Evans, Matthew Sweet, Remedy Drive, Bathtub Dogs, For Against and Lullaby for the Working Class.
As for the transportation, the Lincoln Airport provides daily service to Chicago, Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak, on the California Zephyr line from Chicago to Emeryville in California, while bus transportation is offered by Greyhound.
Major highways in and around the city include I-80, U.S. 6, U.S. 34, U.S. 77 and Nebraska Highway 2.