SKIP navigation
news & events.

Relevant links:

Oliver Pollak
photo by Eliška Mörsel Greenspoon

Pacific Street Memories

by Oliver B. Pollak

Paris has the Champs Elysees; New York, Broadway and Madison Avenue; Chicago boasts Michigan Avenue; and Los Angeles has the Sunset Strip. Streets in Lincoln and Council Bluffs are featured in two recent books, A Street Named 'O' by Mary Jane Nielsen and Council Bluffs: Broadway by Richard Warner and Ryan Roenfeld. Omaha has Dodge Street with its expressway, but my flight path is Pacific Street.

I have taken Pacific Street from Southwest Omaha to the UNO campus for over thirty years, accounting for about 5,000 round trips, 100,000 miles, and 150 days in the car. In the mid-1970s I hitched rides until two whacked out painters picked me up. I was so relieved to exit the vehicle. That experience resulted in purchasing a second vehicle and indirectly inspired my study of daylight savings time.

In the mid-1970s Omaha barely reached 144th Street. Midtowners joked about crossing 72nd Street, they might need a passport. Today the ribbon development of malls, hospitals, car dealerships and the residential roof line stretches beyond Elkhorn.

Transport to UNO included a 1969 VW Karman Ghia with the smell of gasoline in the cabin and a 1970 VW van with an inefficient heater, and 1974, 1980, 1986 (ran it to 209,000 miles), 1989, 1999, and 2004 (38 mile to the gallon) Toyotas. Gas went from 30 cents to $3 plus per gallon.

The sun was in my eyes in the morning heading east and in the evening heading west. I make all the lights about twice a year. There have been no tickets despite the occasional speed trap, no flat tires, or collisions, though some narrow escapes, including sheering of my right rear view mirror after jousting with an orange traffic cone. I purchased gas at 72nd and Pacific on May 6, 1975, shortly before the F4 tornado touched down.

For years much of Pacific was one lane in each direction with stop signs at 132nd, and further west. Cubic yards of concrete contributed to widening, retaining walls, and sidewalks.

Pacific has many houses of worship. St. Wenceslaus, removed from South Omaha, rose in former corn fields. The Montessori complex temporarily included the Jewish Day School on the site now occupied by Beth Israel Synagogue. A church at 120th and Pacific made way for a business park.

I have gone to St. Robert Bellarmine for a wedding, Beth Israel and St. Andrews Episcopal Church for funerals, Pacific Hills Lutheran Church for a Trans-Mississippi Exposition Society meeting, and the Countryside Community Church with its Marge Durham Bell Tower for a Nebraska Humanities Council sponsored presentation on the Villisca Ax Murders. The only church I have not entered is Sunset Hills Baptist Church.

There are very few pedestrians on Pacific except near schools. The sidewalks are narrow and cars are noisy. Schools include Millard North and Montessori (where both my children went) Westside High and Loveland Elementary school. Freshly painted crossing zones announce the beginning of the school year.

Refurbishment and beautification, like home improvement, is never ending, witness makeovers at Westside High, Regency Lodge and Countryside Village. Broadmoor Market has been constant though its interior changed dramatically.

One Pacific Place, an upscale disguised strip mall, adjoined the Enron scandal and the Witherspoon Mansion.

Merchants rise and fall. 7-11 went bankrupt and became Kum and Go. A wood-fired pizza restaurant became a funeral home. A Mediterranean restaurant became a shoe store. Fish and spaghetti turned into California Pizza Kitchen. McFarlands became N.P. Dodge real estate. A German deli went from a fireplace store to hair stylist. A Chinese restaurant now houses a chiropractor. A gas station became Gandolfos. Gallaghers is Naughty's. Garden Café went through bankruptcy and is Wheat Fields. B Pigs, became Carnavale then Fernandos. Baskin Robins is now Edward Jones. Dunkin Doughnuts became Pizza Hut. McKenna's Blues Booze and BBQ survived bankruptcy. Arthur Treacher fried fish became an ATM. El Bashas, in the face of Methodist Hospital's expansion on Dodge moved to Pacific.

The aroma of Big Fred's is still omnipresent. Market Basket survives with Suzie Thorne on Fridays. Caniglia's Venice Inn still stands.

Independent drugstores became Starbucks and Pepper Jax.

First Federal Lincoln made way for the Bookworm, moving from Regency to replace the Village Bookstore.

There are no supermarkets, hardware stores, McDonald's, Burger King, or Taco Bell; there is one Pizza Hut delivery, and a Godfather's. Bars are limited to the Interlude Lounge and Michael's Rusty Nail. Spirit World, following the 1975 tornado moved from the north to south side of the street, and in 2006 reduced its liquor square footage to accommodate a day spa.

Environmental improvements include the Keystone and Papio bicycle paths passing under Pacific and the H&R Block Cancer Survivors Park.

Crabapple and magnolia leaf in spring. A mile of Pacific is Boys Town, renamed Boys and Girls Town. Deer and wild turkeys appear magically distracting speeding passers by. Boys Town hospital opened in 2007. The loss of leaves marks the season.

Aksarben's pungent stables now house UNO's south campus and the Shoppes at Aksarben. The brutal rape and murder at the southwest corner of Elmwood Park, and the villain's execution are not forgotten.

Morning drive time radio comprises KIOS National Public Radio. Bob Adams, Susan Stamberg, Ketzel Levine, Cokie Roberts, Linda Wertheimer, and Terri Gross have been my traveling companions, frequently providing material to start my class, for which I give attribution. Going home at night I listen to Bible thumping preachers, gospel, country and western.

This is anecdotal not definitive. Others will experience Pacific differently. We all see change. How much energy, global warming and carbon footprint would have been saved by car pooling or taking a bus.

Dr. Pollak holds the Martin Chair in History and has taught at UNO since 1974.  He and UNO archivist Les Valentine co-authored the recently published photo book University of Nebraska at Omaha.


October 2012 > A Closer Look at IS&T's NUCIA

October 2012 > UNO Engages Students, Community for 2012 Elections

October 2012 > National Cyber Security Month Highlights UNO Programs, Research

May 2012 > Dan McDermott Named Employee of the Year at UNO

December 2011 > Conference Tags

September 2011 > Roskens Hall: An Educator's Dream

July 2011 > Arts and Sciences Hall: UNO's Cornerstone

June 2011 > The ABCs of the Alumni House: From Adolf Storz and Mary Shirley to William H. Thompson

June 2011 > The Strauss Performing Arts Center: Making Music for Decades

May 2011 > The Durham Science Center: Theory Put Into Practice

May 2011 > The Gene Eppley Administration Building: Philanthropy at Work

April 2011 > Milo Bail Student Center: From Snack Shack to Student Center

April 2011 > UNOCCC: Twenty-Five Years of Caring

March 2011 > UNO's Libraries: A History

March 2011 > The Henningson Memorial Campanile

February 2011 > Mammel Hall

February 2011 > The Sapp Fieldhouse

January 2011 > Heydays of the Hayden House

December 2010 > UNO Faculty/Staff Earn WELCOM Light of Wellness Team Award

October 2010 > New children's financial literacy book supported by UNO alumni

August 2010 > Anna S. Forman Commencement Remarks

May 2010 > John Treinen Commencement Remarks

March 2010 > My Ties and Cliff Hillegass

January 2010 > Megan Schuster Commencement Remarks

December 2009 > Man Killed by Pheasant

November 2009 > New Molecular Modeling Lab Key to Chemistry Research Work

September 2009 > Midlands Voices: Goals of liberal arts college remain vastly important

September 2009 > Technology and Term Papers – A Photo Essay

May 2009 > USSTRATCOM Commander Hears UNO Intern Ideas on Cyber Security, Global Stability

March 2009 > Early Usage of the Kerrey Bridge: Some Empirical Findings and Thoughts on the Future

March 2009 > The End of an Era - UNO's Public Intellectuals and the Omaha World-Herald, 1997-2006

January 2009 > Going Green on Campus: Kathy Hartle Evokes Her Recycling Charge at Work

October 2008 > Zero to 65 in 80 Semesters

October 2008 > Embracing tests UNO should be praised for bucking establishment, scoring well

September 2008 > H.RES.1372: Celebrating the 100th

September 2008 > UNO Researcher Spotlighted

March 2008 > Culture on Campus

February 2008 > In Her Own Words: Technology is crucial to spurring growth

December 2007 > Pacific Street Memories

November 2007 > WISE Women

October 2007 > Vincent Empowers Teachers, Students With Technology

September 2007 > A Model of Success: UNO-Western Hills Partnership Thrives at Six Years

August 2007 > Orientation Leader Represents UNO with Exuberance

August 2007 > In His Own Words: On Summer School

July 2007 > Changing Faces

June 2007 > MVHC @ 50

May 2007 > In His Own Words: My Fulbright Year in Leipzig

February 2007 > At Your Service

December 2006 > A Job Well Done

September 2006 > Australian Finches Aid UNO Professor's Research

July 2006 > Finding His Way

May 2006 > Calming the Anxious

April 2006 > The Kid's Doing All Right

March 2006 > Shot of a Lifetime

March 2006 > Going for Four

February 2006 > Standing Tall with Sierra

January 2006 > In-Your-Face Geology

January 2006 > Religion Meets Film

January 2006 > Finding a Home Port

December 2005 > Man of the Cloth

November 2005 > Volunteer Field Work

November 2005 > Charting the Unknown

October 2005 > Developing Business Overseas

October 2005 > After The Storm

September 2005 > Building Better Officers

September 2005 > Saving the Planet

August 2005 > Making the Abstract Tangible

August 2005 > Helping Neighborhoods Help Themselves

July 2005 > Improving Health through Technology

July 2005 > Reading the Signs

June 2005 > Small Steps to a Better Life

April 2005 > Women's Walk Brings the Benefits to UNO Student-Athletes

April 2005 > Honest Art

March 2005 > Sharing The Wealth

March 2005 > Engineering His Own Masterpiece

February 2005 > Native Daughter, Native Dreams

February 2005 > Puck Stops Here

January 2005 > Stressing the Familiar

January 2005 > Connecting the Community

January 2005 > Ticket to Cooperstown

December 2004 > Spirit of the Season

December 2004 > Nicholas Stergiou: Research in Motion

fall 2004 > Alzheimer's: Caring for the Caregiver's

fall 2004 > Part of the Heart & Soul of Our Community: A message from Chancellor Belck

fall 2004 > David Hawk: All In

fall 2004 > Anadelia Lamas: Planting Roots

fall 2004 > Dean Olson: Assessing the Threat

fall 2004 > Student's Wireless Application Earns Him $25,000 Price from Microsoft

fall 2004 > Tom Warren: From the Chiefs to the Chief

fall 2004 > UNO Theatre Graduates Start Companies in Their Community

fall 2004 > Host Families Provide Welcoming Environment for Afghan Guests

fall 2004 > CADRE Project Celebrates 10 Years of Preparing Effective Educators

fall 2004 > Business Owner Raises Awareness, Funding for Real Estate Program

fall 2004 > Media Executive Chooses Omaha as Place to Build a Career and a Life

fall 2004 > UNO Partners with Metro, Takes STEP to Grow Science-Related Degrees

fall 2004 > Art Meets Technology in PKI's Student Multimedia Lab