Location of Blair, Nebraska
|• Total||5.51 sq mi (14.27 km2)|
|• Land||5.49 sq mi (14.22 km2)|
|• Water||0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)|
|Elevation||1,070 ft (326 m)|
|• Estimate (2013)||7,990|
|• Density||1,455.4/sq mi (561.9/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0827479|
Blair is a city in and the county seat of Washington County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 7,990 at the 2010 census. Blair is a part of the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Statistical Area.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2009)|
Blair, county seat and largest city in Washington County, was not one of its earliest towns. It was established after the American Civil War, when the Sioux City and Pacific Rail Road chose to cross the river at that location, going from Missouri Valley, Iowa, and up along "Carter Hollow" on the Nebraska side. Whether by chance or design, the route missed the existing river towns of DeSoto and Cuming City. An entirely new town was needed.
A 1,075-acre (4.35 km2) tract of land was purchased and platted, with lots to be sold at auction on May 10, 1869. The entire tract was purchased by John I. Blair, an official of the railroad, who announced his plans for the city and named it for himself. This gave him and the railroad more opportunity for profit from development than by connecting existing towns, where rights of way may have been more expensive to purchase.
Front Street quickly took shape. Many businesses and several churches were hauled overland from the former town sites to supplement those being built. In a short time, there were hardware, implement, and dry goods stores, a hotel, a bank, and a newspaper. A town board was formed in August.
Before the end of the year, the town called for an election to relocate the county seat, which at that time was in Fort Calhoun. Blair won, and a brick courthouse was erected at 19th and Grant.
Construction was also progressing on the rail line. Before a railroad bridge was built across the Missouri, freight cars were pushed onto barges on one side of the river, then pulled off on the other. Since the engines did not cross the river, a roundhouse to service them was built north of town. When the bridge was completed in 1882, that facility was dismantled and servicing was done in Iowa.
Local brickyards turned out 1,500,000 bricks per year to meet the demands of the city's rapid development. In 1884 the community, predominantly Danish immigrants, raised $3,000 in matching funds and appropriated several acres of land on which to establish a "folk school." The forerunner of Dana College, Trinity Seminary, was housed in a house until the four-story main building was dedicated in 1886.
By then, a city water system was in place, and South Creek, dug out by men with hand shovels, had been straightened to improve the drainage on south side of town. A public high school was constructed before the start of the 20th century.
Industries that sprang up along the railroad include: a mill which produced Maintop flour and livestock feeds; a foundry manufacturing roller bearings; a laboratory that made patent medicines; a poultry incubator plant employing about 40 men; and a horse collar company which employed up to 125 men, until "horses left the drawbar scene."
A plant built in 1889 to provide electricity for lights, was not dependable or profitable. In 1914, a new municipal power plant was built, and later a city ice plant was added to supply Blair with "safe ice," replacing the system of cutting it from the river.
Over the years, other enterprises came and went: a plant manufacturing spark plugs used in Model T Fords; a canning company; a seed corn plant; and a church-publishing house. Kelly Ryan Equipment Company, established in the mid-1940s, employs up to 50 persons. The D.L.Blair Company, specializing in nation-wide promotion campaigns, was established in the 1970s. Mid America Computer Corp. was also established in the 1970s and has a payroll of over 200 employees, serving more than 300 clients in the telecommunications industry.
The "Bee-Line" Highway, started in 1923, got little use until a bridge was built across the Missouri at Blair in 1929. Later designated as Highway 30, it was finally paved as a Federal Works project in the 1930s. Highways U.S. 75 and State 91 and 133 were completed later.
Blair is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.51 square miles (14.27 km2), of which, 5.49 square miles (14.22 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.(41.545562, -96.134383)
Blair has its own hospital, the Memorial Community Hospital, and being the county seat, also has a courthouse located in town.
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,990 people, 3,110 households, and 2,005 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,455.4 inhabitants per square mile (561.9 /km2). There were 3,351 housing units at an average density of 610.4 per square mile (235.7 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.4% White, 0.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.0% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.9% of the population.
There were 3,110 households of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.5% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.01.
The median age in the city was 36 years. 24.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 11.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.9% were from 25 to 44; 24.3% were from 45 to 64; and 15.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.9% male and 52.1% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,512 people, 2,871 households, and 1,891 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,617.3 people per square mile (625.1/km²). There were 3,033 housing units at an average density of 653.0 per square mile (252.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.43% White, 0.44% African American, 0.29% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.27% Pacific Islander, 0.33% from other races, and 0.91% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.34% of the population.
There were 2,871 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.8% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 29.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 13.8% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.2 males.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $41,214, and the median income for a family was $52,114. Males had a median income of $36,839 versus $25,452 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,240. About 6.2% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.4% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.
Points of interest
- Part of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum collection
- Blair was home to the now defunct Dana College
- From 1896-1954, Blair was home to Trinity Seminary, a school of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church
- Blair is located along the historic Lincoln Highway
- Kent Bellows - artist
- Bill Dannenhauser - professional wrestler
- Mike Ekeler - assistant college football coach
- Mike Hollingshead - photographer
- Mick Mines - Nebraska state senator
- Tom Seaton - baseball player
- Paul Simon - Democratic Congressman, Senator, and presidential candidate
- Rod Whitaker - novelist
- This is one of two cities that have been the contact point for many consumer products contests, the other being Young America, Minnesota.
- Blair served as the headquarters of 2 Lutheran denominations - the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church Association in America from 1884–1896; and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church from 1896-1960. Both denominations were informally known as "The Blair Church."
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved October 16, 2013.