Lincoln, Nebraska

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Not to be confused with Lincoln County, Nebraska.
Lincoln, Nebraska
Downtown Lincoln skyline
Downtown Lincoln skyline
Flag of Lincoln, Nebraska
Official seal of Lincoln, Nebraska
Nickname(s): Star City
Location in Nebraska
Location in Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska is located in USA
Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 40°48′38″N 96°40′49″W / 40.81056°N 96.68028°W / 40.81056; -96.68028Coordinates: 40°48′38″N 96°40′49″W / 40.81056°N 96.68028°W / 40.81056; -96.68028
Country  United States of America
State  Nebraska
County Lancaster
Founded Lancaster 1856
Renamed Lincoln July 29, 1867
Incorporated April 1, 1869
Named for Abraham Lincoln
 • Type Strong Mayor-Council
 • Mayor Chris Beutler (D)
 • City Council
 • U.S. Congress Jeff Fortenberry (R)
 • City 91.77 sq mi (237.68 km2)
 • Land 90.42 sq mi (234.19 km2)
 • Water 1.35 sq mi (3.50 km2)
 • Urban 89.61 sq mi (232.09 km2)
 • Metro 1,422.27 sq mi (3,683.66 km2)
Elevation 1,176 ft (358 m)
Population (2010)[4]
 • City 258,379 (US: 72nd)
 • Estimate (2014[5]) 272,996
 • Density 2,974.8/sq mi (1,148.6/km2)
 • Urban 258,719 (US: 145th)
 • Metro 318,945 (US: 155th)
Demonym Lincolnite
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code(s) 68501-68510, 68512, 68514, 68516-68517, 68520-68524, 68526-68529, 68531-68532, 68542, 68544, 68583, 68588
Area code(s) 402, 531
FIPS code 31-28000
GNIS feature ID 0837279[6]

Lincoln /ˈlɪŋkən/ is the capital of the State of Nebraska and the second-most populous city in Nebraska.[7] Lincoln is also the county seat of Lancaster County[8] Lincoln is located in the southeastern part of Nebraska and is in the Lincoln metropolitan (statistical) area.[9] Lincoln's population in 2014 was estimated at 272,996.[5]

Lincoln was founded as the village of Lancaster on the wild salt flats of what was to become Lancaster County.[10] A short time later, Lancaster was renamed Lincoln and became Nebraska's capital.[11] Sometimes referred to as the "Star City", many of Lincoln's primary employers fall within the service and manufacturing industries, including a growing high tech sector.[12] The city is the home of the University of Nebraska,[13] has an unemployment rate of 2.2% (March 2015, preliminary)[14] and has the second tallest capitol building in the United States.[15]


19th Century[edit]

Pioneer Lincoln[edit]

Prior to the expansion westward of settlers, the prairie was covered with buffalo grass. From 1847 to 1860, the cattle of the west-bound ox trains spread seed that they had eaten along the trails in their journey westward, introducing new plant species to the prairie. Plains Indians, descendants of indigenous peoples who occupied the area for thousands of years, lived in and hunted along Salt Creek. The Pawnee, which included four tribes, lived in villages along the Platte River. The Great Sioux Nation, including the Ihanktowan-Ihanktowana and the Lakota located to the north and west, used Nebraska as a hunting and skirmish ground, although they did not have any long-term settlements in the state. An occasional buffalo could still be seen in the plat of Lincoln in the 1860s.[16]


Lincoln was founded in 1856 as the village of Lancaster and became the county seat of the newly created Lancaster County in 1859. The village was sited on the east bank of Salt Creek. The first settlers were attracted to the area due to the abundance of salt. Salt was a commodity used primarily in the preservation of meat. Greater quantities of salt could be obtained by boiling away the water in vats. Once J. Sterling Morton developed his salt mines in Kansas, salt in the village was no longer a viable commodity.[17]

Captain W. T. Donovan, a former steamer captain, and his family settled on Salt Creek in 1856. The Captain was selected to represent the Crescent Company in the production of salt. Other settlers began to settle in the area. During the latter part of 1858, Captain Donovan and his family abandoned the schemes of the Crescent Company and left the area to the Stevens Creek settlement due to the threatening aspect of the Pawnee Indians.[17]

In the fall of 1859, the village settlers met to form a county. A caucus was formed and the committee, which included Captain Donovan from Stevens Creek, selected the village of Lancaster to be the county seat. The county was named Lancaster.

The village had very few inhabitants. After the passage of the 1862 Homestead Act, homesteaders began to inhabit the area. The first plat was dated August 6, 1864. From the north to the south the streets were North, Nebraska, Saline, Washington, Main, Lincoln, College, High and Locust. From west to east streets were numbered one to twelve.[16]

Most settlers abandoned the village in September 1864 due to the 1864 Sioux Indian scare. The Pawnee Indians, who inhabited the area and were not in conflict with the settlers, chased the Sioux out of the area. The village of Lancaster was spared, though other settlements were not. The settlers began to return in 1865 with many taking homesteads.[18]

Establishment as state capital[edit]

The capital of the Nebraska Territory had been Omaha since the creation of the territory in 1854; however, most of the territory's population lived south of the Platte River. After much of the territory south of the Platte River considered annexation to Kansas, the territorial legislature voted to locate the capital city south of the river and as far west as possible.

Thomas P. Kennard house

Prior to the vote to remove the capital city from Omaha, a last ditch effort by Omaha Senator J. N. H. Patrick attempted to derail the move by having the future capital city named after recently assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Many of the people south of the Platte River had been sympathetic to the Confederate cause in the recently concluded Civil War. It was assumed that senators south of the river would not vote to pass the measure if the future capital was named after the former president. In the end, the motion to name the future capital city Lincoln was ineffective and the vote to change the capital's location south of the Platte River was successful with the passage of the Removal Act.[19][20]

Nebraska was granted statehood on March 1, 1867. The Removal Act called for the formation of a Capital Commission to locate a site for the capital on state owned land. The Commission, composed of Governor David Butler, Secretary of State Thomas Kennard, and Auditor John Gillespie, began to tour sites on July 18, 1867 for the new capital city. The village of Lancaster was chosen, in part due to the salt flats and marshes.[10][21] Lancaster had approximately 30 residents. Thomas Kennard replatted the town on a broader scale, discarding most of the original plat of the town. To raise money for the construction of a capital city, a successful auction of lots was held. Newcomers began to arrive and Lincoln's population grew. The Nebraska State Capitol was completed on December 1, 1868; a two story building constructed with native limestone with a central cupola. The Kennard house, built in 1869, is the oldest remaining building in the original plat of Lincoln.

Building of a city[edit]

Lincoln, as seen in 1868

In 1867, the first newspaper, the The Nebraska Commonwealth, was established by Charles H. Gere. The Commonwealth became the Nebraska State Journal in 1868. By the close of 1868, Lincoln had a population of approximately 500 people.[22] In 1869, the University of Nebraska was established in Lincoln by the state with a land grant of about 130,000 acres. Construction of University Hall, the first building, began the same year.

The Burlington & Missouri River Railroad's first train arrived in Lincoln on June 26, 1870, soon to be followed by the Midland Pacific in 1871 and the Atchison & Nebraska in 1872. The Union Pacific began service in 1877. The Chicago & North Western and Missouri Pacific began service in 1886. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific extended service to Lincoln in 1892. Lincoln became a rail center.[17]

Lincoln Police force in 1885

In 1869, Wyuka Cemetery was established by the state as a state cemetery in the new capital city. The cemetery was modeled after the rural Mount Auburn Cemetery east of Boston.[23] Wyuka is from the Lakota language meaning "to rest".[24] Lakota is spoken by the Lakota people of the Sioux tribes. The first police force was formed July 1870.[25] On December 22, 1870, the State Lunatic Asylum was completed and accepting patients. One year later the asylum burned down. A new asylum was completed in 1872. By 1888, there were nearly 400 patients.[26] The Lincoln Gas Light Company was organized in 1872. The US Post Office and Courthouse was built from 1874-1879. The city public library was founded in December 1875.[27]

Government Square; U.S. Post Office and Courthouse (1879-1906), City Hall (1906-1969).

As the city grew with new residents, retail flourished. Herpolsheimer's and Miller & Paine were the first department stores in Lincoln, both founded in 1880. Herpolsheimer's first location was at 1109 O Street and operated as the Cash Goods House. A decade later, Herpolsheimer's relocated to the southwest corner of 12th and N Streets, building a 73,000 square foot building. The store was known variously as The Exposition Store, The Glass Block and The Daylight Store. The store was reported at the time to be the largest department store west of the Missouri River.[28] Herpolsheimer's closed in May 1931 due to the Great Depression. Miller & Paine occupied the corner of 13th and O Streets and would continue to be in business until 1988.[28]

In 1880, the Lincoln Telephone Exchange was organized. The City Water Works were begun in 1881.[27] The city council voted to establish a full-time paid Fire Department in 1885 with one company working with volunteer fire companies. By 1886 the volunteer fire companies dispanded. In 1887, the department increased to three companies. The Fire Departments horses, which pulled the hose cart and steamer, were not replaced with gasoline engines until 1919.[29] The first hospital, Saint Elizabeth Hospital, was founded in 1889. Saint Elizabeth Hospital would be the only general hospital in Lincoln until 1922.

In 1888 a new capitol building was constructed on the site of the first capitol. The new building replaced the former structurally unsound capitol. The second capitol building was a classical design, designed by architect William H. Willcox.[30] The worldwide economic depression of 1890 saw the reduction of Lincoln's population from 55,000 to 37,000 by 1900.

20th Century[edit]

Beginnings of a modern city[edit]

In 1905, the evening newspaper, The Nebraska State Journal, was joined by a morning newspaper, The Lincoln Star. Both newspapers merged in 1995 to become the Lincoln Journal Star.[31] In 1915 William Gold incorporated his former dry goods store The Peoples Store as Gold and Company. Gold and Company would expand at the site of 11th and O Street to become a six-story department store known as Gold's.[32]

Grand Manse Pavilion formerly the Public Comfort Station for Men building

As automobile travel became more common in the U.S., the needs for better roads in Nebraska and throughout the U.S. grew. After planning and by the Omaha-Denver Trans-Continental Route Association in 1911 with support from the Good Roads Movement, the Omaha-Lincoln-Denver Highway (O-L-D) was established through Lincoln. It's goal was having the most efficient highway to travel on throughout the state of Nebraska, from Omaha to Denver. Construction and improvements existing roads began shortly thereafter and the highway was established. The original O-L-D route through Lincoln approached the city from University Place to the north (Warren Avenue - today's N. 48th Street); then Holdrege St. west past the Agricultural College; N. 27th St. south; O Street west through downtown; N. 3rd St. north one block; then finally P Street west out of Lincoln towards Emerald.[33] Up until 1919, the responsibility for maintenance of the O-L-D was up to the association, individuals and towns along the route, including Lincoln. After 1919, with a series of acts, the O-L-D was transferred to the state highway system, who took over upkeep of the highway.[34]

In 1920, the Omaha-Denver Association merged with Detroit-Lincoln-Denver Highway Association. As a result, the O-L-D was renamed the Detroit-Lincoln-Denver Highway (D-L-D) with the goal of having a continuous highway from Detroit to Denver. The goal was eventually realized by the mid 1920s; 1,700 mi (2,700 km) of constantly improved highway through six states.[35] The autoroute was a tourist magnet and traffic was heavy. Businesses were built and facilities were established in towns along the route in order to keep up with traveler demand. In Lincoln, the Lincoln Automobile Club Tourist Camp at S. 24th and Randolph Streets was advertised as having modern amenities for any road traveler, including enough room for 400 cars and tents with shade, hot showers, electric stoves, electric lights, gravel roads, etc.[34] At 9th and O Streets, a Public Comfort Station for Men was constructed as a rest stop for gentlemen only, featuring Bedford stone, glazed tile and plumbing.[35] The station building, no longer a rest stop, is the Grand Manse Pavilion.

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Volga-German immigrants from Russia settled in the North Bottoms neighborhood. As Lincoln expanded with the growth in population, the city began to annex towns nearby. The first town annexed was Bethany Heights in 1922. The former city was incorporated in 1890.[17]

Goodhue-designed Nebraska State Capitol

Construction began on a third capitol building in 1922. The Willcox designed capitol's foundation settled and the building was structurally unsound. Bertram G. Goodhue was selected in a national competition as its architect. By 1924, the first phase of construction was completed and state offices moved into the new building. In 1925, the Willcox designed capitol building was razed. The Goodhue designed capitol was constructed in four phases, with the completion of the fourth phase in 1932 (total completion of the Goodhue design would not be realized until the completion of the capitol fountains within the four interior courtyards of the capitol building, with an estimated completion date of 2017).[36]

In 1922, former United States Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan donated his home and land to create Bryan Memorial Hospital. The city raised money by a bond issue and opened Lincoln General Hospital in 1925.

In 1929, the city annexed the town College View. College View was incorporated in 1892. Union College, a Seventh Day Adventist institution, was founded in College View in 1891.

Growth and expansion[edit]

In the early days of air travel, Lincoln had three airports and one airfield.[37] One, Union Airport, was established northeast of Lincoln in 1920 by E.J. Sias. Charles Lindbergh learned to fly at the Lincoln Flying School April 1, 1922. The Lincoln Flying School was founded by E.J. Sias in a building he built at 2145 O Street.[38] The flying school closed in 1947. Some remnants of the old airport can still be seen today in-between N. 56th and N. 70th Streets, north of Fletcher Avenue; mangled within a slowly developing industrial zone.

In 1924, the D-L-D was officially designated as Nebraska State Highway 6 and by 1926, the Detroit-Lincoln-Denver name all but disappeared. Also in 1926, the highway became part of the Federal Highway System and was renumbered U.S. Route 38.[34]

Arrow Airport was established around 1925 as a manufacturing and test facility for Arrow Aircraft and Motors Corporation, primarily the Arrow Sport. The airfield was located near Havelock; or to the west of where the North 48th Street Small Vehicle Transfer Station is located today. Arrow Aircraft & Motors declared bankruptcy in 1939 and Arrow Airport closed roughly several decades later.[39] An existing Arrow Sport can be seen on permanent display, hanging in the Lincoln Airport's main passenger terminal.[37][40]

The city's small municipal airfield in 1930 was dedicated to Charles Lindbergh and named Lindbergh Field for a short period of time as another airfield was named Lindbergh in California. The airfield was north of Salt Lake, in an area known variously over the years as Huskerville, Arnold Heights and Air Park; and was located approximately within the western half of the West Lincoln Township.[41][42][43] The air field was a stop for United Airlines in 1927 and a mail stop in 1928.[44]

In 1930, the Veterans' Hospital was opened east of the city and the city annexed the town of Havelock. Havelock actively opposed annexation to Lincoln and only relented due to a strike by the Burlington railroad shop workers which halted progress & growth for the city.[17] By 1930, the population of Lincoln had grown to 75,933.[45]

In 1931, Nebraska State Highway 6 was renumbered as U.S. 6/U.S. 38 overlap and in 1933, the U.S. 38 route designation was dropped. On June 30, 1937, Congress designated U.S. 6 as a national route honoring the Grand Army of the Republic. Since then, U.S. 6 has been also known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway and at one time was the longest national route in the U.S.[34] In Lincoln, what began as the O-L-D has taken various routes throughout the city throughout time. Some old D-L-D route designation monuments can still be found inside and outside the city, a reminder of where the old highway once ran. One such is at the corner of N. 2nd and P Streets;[35] another near Emerald.[34]

S. 13th Street at alleyway south of "N" St., looking north in 1942

The Lincoln Army Airfield was established in 1942 at the site. During World War II, over 25,000 aviation mechanics were trained with over 40,000 troopers being processed for combat. The Army closed the base in 1945. The Air Force reactivated the base during the Korean War in 1952. In 1966, the base was closed and Lincoln annexed the airfield, including the base's old housing units to the west.[41] The base became the Lincoln Municipal Airport under ownership of the Lincoln Airport Authority. Around the turn of the 21st century, the airport was renamed the Lincoln Airport. The authority shared facilities with the Nebraska National Guard, who continued ownership over some portions of the old Air Force base.[46] During the 1960s, the two main airlines serving the Lincoln Airport were United Airlines and the original Frontier Airlines.

In 1956, Bankers Life Insurance Company of Nebraska announced plans to build a $6 million shopping center next to their new campus on the east-side outskirts of Lincoln. Gateway Mall was completed and open for business at 60th and O streets in 1960. The open-air mall was originally anchored by Montgomery Wards and Miller & Paine; it's second location in the city. Early tenants included S. S. Kresge, Walgreens, Ben Simons and Gateway Bank. Later tenants included Hovland-Swanson[47] and Hinky Dinky.[48]

One of the first segments of Interstate 80 completed in Nebraska linked Lincoln to Omaha in 1961[49] and was largely open to traffic in 1962.[50] Around the time, Lincoln had only four interchanges: Waverly (U.S. 6), U.S. 77, Interstate 180 and West Lincoln (U.S. 34/Nebraska 2). Speed limit during the early days of I-80 in Nebraska was 75 mph (120 km/h).[49]

In 1964, Gold's department store merged with Omaha-based department store Brandeis. A short time later, the Gold's name ceased to be used and the downtown department store was renamed Brandeis.

Metropolitan Lincoln[edit]

In 1971, an expansion of Gateway Mall was completed. The expansion included a new second story indoor mall corridor connecting the outlying Sears to the mall with covered parking underneath the corridor. Another major expansion of the Gateway Mall occurred in 1977. Brandeis opened a new store in the outdoor portion of the mall adjacent to Miller & Paine. Brandeis closed the former Gold's downtown store in 1980. In 1985 Bankers Life sold the Gateway Mall to Jacobs Visconsi Jacobs of Cleveland.[51] Brandeis was bought by Younkers in 1987 and shortly thereafter the former Brandeis store was renamed Younkers.[32] Miller & Paine was purchased by the department store chain Dillard's in 1988. Miller & Paine's flagship downtown store closed shortly after the purchase and the Gateway Mall location was renamed Dillard's.[28]

In 1995, the original open-air portion of Gateway Mall was enclosed and expanded. An indoor mall corridor was built connecting a new J.C. Penney store to the existing 1971 enclosed corridor. The previous location of J.C. Penney was temporarily inside a former Hinky Dinky grocery store building in a complex of Gateway Mall stores north of the main mall. The former J.C. Penney building was expanded with Circuit City occupying the building until it's closure in 2008.

21st Century[edit]

A quarter of a million plus[edit]

Shortly after the Dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Montgomery Wards closed all stores nationwide, including the 110,000-square-foot anchor store in Gateway Mall. In 2001, Gateway Mall was purchased by Westfield America Trust.[51] Westfield renamed the mall Westfield Shoppingtown Gateway; then in 2005, Westfield Gateway.[52] Westfield made a $45 million makeover of the mall in 2005 including an expanded food court, a new west-side entrance and installation of an Italian carousel.[53]

In 2007 and 2009, The city of Lincoln received beautification grants for improvements on O and West O Streets, west of the Harris Overpass, commemorating the history of the D-L-D.[35][54]

In 2012, Westfield America Trust sold Westfield Gateway to Starwood Capital Group. Starwood reverted the mall's name from Westfield Gateway to Gateway Mall.[51][55] Since 2012, Starwood Capital Group has made incremental expansions and renovations. In 2014, the U.S. Postal Service, with its lease up and plans to downsize, announced plans to move the Gateway U.S. Post Office to a different location. The exact location has yet to be determined. The Gateway Post Office has been at the same location west of Gateway Mall and north of Ameritas, formerly Bankers Life, since 1968.[56] Gateway Mall is the largest mall in the city of Lincoln.


Detailed map of Lincoln streets and features.
View from the International Space Station (ISS, 2007); photo centered on northeast Lincoln.

Lincoln is located at 40°48′38″N 96°40′49″W / 40.81056°N 96.68028°W / 40.81056; -96.68028 . According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2014, the city has a total area of 91.77 square miles (237.68 km2), of which, 90.42 square miles (234.19 km2) of it is land and 1.35 square miles (3.50 km2) is water.[1]

Lincoln is one of the few large cities of Nebraska not located along either the Platte River or the Missouri River. The city was originally laid out near Salt Creek and among the nearly flat saline wetlands of northern Lancaster County.[57] The city's growth over the years has led to development of the surrounding land, much of which is composed of gently rolling hills. In recent years, Lincoln's northward growth has encroached on the habitat of the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle.[58]

Metropolitan area[edit]

The Lincoln metropolitan area consists of Lancaster County and Seward County,[9] which was added to the metropolitan area in 2003. Lincoln has very little development outside its city limits and has no contiguous suburbs (the largest town that can be considered a suburb of Lincoln is Waverly). This is due primarily to the fact that most land that would otherwise be developed as a suburban town has already been annexed by the city of Lincoln itself.


View of south Lincoln from the top of the Nebraska State Capitol (2012).
Sky over Lincoln after a late summer thunderstorm.

Lincoln's neighborhoods, like in other cities, include both old and new development. Some neighborhoods in Lincoln were formerly small towns that Lincoln later annexed, including University Place annexed in 1926, Belmont, Bethany (Bethany Heights) annexed in 1922, College View annexed in 1929, Havelock annexed in 1930, and West Lincoln annexed in 1966.[17] A number of Historic Districts are located near downtown Lincoln, while newer neighborhoods have appeared primarily in the south and east.[59] As of December 2013, Lincoln had 45 registered neighborhood associations within the city limits.[60]


Located on the Great Plains far from the moderating influence of mountains or large bodies of water, Lincoln possesses a highly variable four-season humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa): winters are cold but relatively dry, summers are hot and occasionally humid.[61] With little precipitation falling during winter, precipitation is concentrated in the warmer months, when thunderstorms frequently roll in, often producing tornadoes. Snow averages 25.9 inches (66 cm) per season but seasonal accumulation has ranged from 7.2 in (18 cm) in 1967–68 to 54.3 in (138 cm) in 1959–60.[62] Snow tends to fall in light amounts, though blizzards are possible. Snow cover is usually not reliable due to both the low precipitation and the frequent thaws during winter; there is an average of 39 days with a snow depth of 1 in (2.5 cm) or more. The average window for freezing temperatures is October 5 thru April 25, allowing a growing season of 162 days.[62]

The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 24.6 °F (−4.1 °C) in January to 77.6 °F (25.3 °C) in July. However, the city is subject both to episodes of bitter cold in winter and heat waves during summer, with 11.4 nights of sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows, 41 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs, and 4.6 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs.[62] The city straddles the boundary of USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5b and 6a.[63] Temperature extremes have ranged from −33 °F (−36 °C) on January 12, 1974 up to 115 °F (46 °C) on July 25, 1936.[62] Readings as high as 105 °F (41 °C) or as low as −20 °F (−29 °C) occur somewhat rarely; the last occurrence of each was July 22, 2012 and February 3, 1996.[62]

Based on 30-year averages obtained from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center for the months of December, January and February, Weather Channel ranked Lincoln the 7th coldest major U.S. city as of 2014[64]


In 2014, the Lincoln-Beatrice area was among the "Cleanest U.S. Cities for Ozone Air Pollution" in the American Lung Association's "State of the Air 2014" report.[66]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 2,441
1880 13,003 432.7%
1890 55,164 324.2%
1900 40,169 −27.2%
1910 43,973 9.5%
1920 54,948 25.0%
1930 75,933 38.2%
1940 81,984 8.0%
1950 98,884 20.6%
1960 128,521 30.0%
1970 149,518 16.3%
1980 171,932 15.0%
1990 191,972 11.7%
2000 225,581 17.5%
2010 258,379 14.5%
Est. 2014 272,996 5.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[67]
2014 Estimate[5]
View of Downtown Lincoln and surrounding neighborhoods in 2005.

The U.S. Government designated Lincoln in the 1970s as a refugee-friendly city due to its stable economy, educational institutions, and size. Since then, refugees from Vietnam settled in Lincoln, and further waves came from other countries.[68] More recently, Lincoln was named one of the "Top Ten most Welcoming Cities in America" by Welcoming America.[69][70]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2010, there were 258,379 people, 103,546 households, and 60,300 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,899.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,119.5/km2). There were 110,546 housing units at an average density of 1,240.6 per square mile (479.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.0% White, 3.8% African American, 0.8% Native American, 3.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.5% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.3% of the population.

There were 103,546 households of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.8% were non-families. 31.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.01.

The median age in the city was 31.8 years. 22.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 15.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.9% were from 25 to 44; 22.9% were from 45 to 64; and 10.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 50.0% male and 50.0% female.


Lincoln's economy is fairly typical of a mid-sized American city; most economic activity is derived from the service and manufacturing industries.[12] Government and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are both large contributors to the local economy. Other prominent industries in Lincoln include finance, insurance, publishing, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, railroads,[71] high technology,[12] information technology, medical, education and truck transport. For March 2015, Lincoln's preliminary unemployment rate was 2.2% (not seasonally adjusted).[14]

One of the largest employers is Bryan Health, which consists of two major hospitals and several large outpatient facilities located across the city. Healthcare and medical jobs account for a substantial portion of Lincoln's employment: as of 2009, full-time healthcare employees in the city included 9,010 healthcare practitioners in technical occupations, 4,610 workers in healthcare support positions, 780 licensed and vocational nurses, and 150 medical and clinical laboratory technicians.[72]

Several national business were originally established in Lincoln; these include student lender Nelnet, Ameritas, Assurity, Fort Western Stores and HobbyTown USA. Several regional restaurant chains began in Lincoln, including Amigos/Kings Classic,[73] Runza Restaurants and Valentino's.[74]

The Omaha-Lincoln areas make up a part of what is referred to as the Midwest Silicon Prairie.[12][75][76] In 2013, Lincoln ranked No. 4 on Forbes' list of the Best Places for Business and Careers[77] and No. 1 on "NerdWallet"'s Best Cities for Job Seekers in 2015.[78]

A Fort Western Store near S 56th & Nebraska Hwy 2 in Lincoln, NE
Amigos Restaurant on N 48th & Leighton in Lincoln, NE

Top employers[edit]

According to the City's 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[79] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 State of Nebraska 8,988
2 Lincoln Public Schools 7,975
3 University of Nebraska–Lincoln 6,179
4 Bryan Health 3,796
5 US Government 3,206
6 City of Lincoln 2,589
7 St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center 2,350
8 Burlington Northern Railroad 2,000
9 Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital 1,400
10 B&R Stores 1,391


The Nebraska Air & Army National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters are located in Lincoln along with other major units of the Nebraska National Guard.[80] During the early years of the cold war, the Lincoln Airport was the Lincoln Air Force Base;[81] currently, the Nebraska Air National Guard, along with the Nebraska Army National Guard, have joint-use facilities with the Lincoln Airport.

Arts and culture[edit]

Lincoln's primary venues for live music include: Pinnacle Bank Arena,[82] Bourbon Theatre, Duffy's Tavern, Knickerbockers, Duggan's Pub (local and regional acts; smaller venues), and the Zoo Bar (blues). The Pla-Mor Ballroom is a staple of Lincoln's music and dance scene, featuring its house band, the award-winning Sandy Creek Band.

Downtown Lincoln at night (14th and O Streets)

The Lied Center is a venue for national tours of Broadway productions, concert music, and guest lectures.[83] Lincoln has several performing arts venues. Plays are staged by UNL students in the Temple Building;[84] community theater productions are held at the Lincoln Community Playhouse,[85] the Loft at The Mill, and the Haymarket Theater.

For movie viewing, Marcus Theatres owns 32 screens at four locations,[86] and the University of Nebraska's Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center shows independent and foreign films.[87] Standalone cinemas in Lincoln include the Joyo Theater and Rococo Theater. The Rococo Theater also hosts benefits and other engagements.[88] The downtown section of O Street is Lincoln's primary bar and nightclub district.

Lincoln is the hometown of Zager and Evans, known for their international No. 1 hit record, "In the Year 2525".[89] It is also the home town of several notable musical groups, such as Remedy Drive, VOTA, the Bathtub Dogs, For Against, Lullaby for the Working Class, Matthew Sweet, Dirtfedd, The Show is the Rainbow and Straight. Lincoln is home to Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine.

In 2012, the city was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.[90]

Annual cultural events[edit]

Like in many cities, annual events in Lincoln have come and gone throughout time, such as Band Day at UNL[91] and the Star City Holiday Parade.[92] At the same time, however, some events have never changed while new traditions are created. Some current annual cultural events in Lincoln include the Lincoln National Guard Marathon & Half-Marathon in May,[93] Celebrate Lincoln in early June,[94] the Uncle Sam Jam around July 3,[95] the Lancaster County Fair in early August[96] and Boo at the Zoo in October.[97] An often local favorite to some is the Haymarket Farmers' Market, running from May to October in the Historic Haymarket[98] (one of several farmers markets throughout the city).[99]


Because Lincoln is the state capital of Nebraska and home to a number of colleges/universities, there are a wide range of attractions for people of all interests. From a stroll through the Sunken Gardens[100] to watching a basketball game at Pinnacle Bank Arena;[82] trying Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Ice Cream[101] at the UNL Dairy Store[102] to watching a fulldome digital show at Mueller Planetarium,[103] there is something to do all year around. A tour at the Nebraska State Capitol,[104] the tallest building in Lincoln,[105] is a fascinating, nearly hour long look at a part of Nebraska's history. Alternately, a tour at the Frank H. Woods Telephone Museum[106] is a fascinating look at technology of yesteryear. For the kids, a trip to the Lincoln Children's Zoo[107] is a day of fun and education.


Lincoln is home to the university's football team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In total, the University of Nebraska fields 22 men's and women's teams in 14 NCAA Division I sports.[108] Other sports teams are the Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves, a GPAC & NCAA Division III independent University;[109] the Lincoln Saltdogs,[110] an American Association independent minor league baseball team; the Lincoln Stars, a USHL junior ice hockey team;[111] the No Coast Derby Girls, a member of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.[112]

Parks and recreation[edit]

Lincoln has an extensive park system, with over 125 individual parks. The parks are connected by a 133 mi (214 km)[113] system of recreational trails. The MoPac Trail extends through Lincoln. Regional parks include:

"The Smoke Signal" in Pioneers Park

Community parks include Ballard Park, Bethany Park, Bowling Lake Park, Densmore Park, Erwin Peterson Park, Fleming Fields, Irvingdale Park, Mahoney Park, Max E. Roper Park, Oak Lake Park, Peter Pan Park, Pine Lake Park, Sawyer Snell Park, Seacrest Park, Tierra Briarhurst, University Place Park and Woods Park.[121]

Other notable parks:

Smaller neighborhood parks are scattered throughout the city.[121] Additionally, there are five public recreation centers, nine outdoor public pools and five public golf courses (all not including private facilities) in Lincoln.[113]


East side of Old City Hall in Lincoln, 1942

Lincoln has a mayor-council government. The mayor and a seven-member city council are selected in nonpartisan elections. Four members are elected from city council districts; the remaining three members are elected at-large.[127] Lincoln's health, personnel, and planning departments are joint city/county agencies; most city and Lancaster County offices are located in the County/City Building.

Since Lincoln is the state capital, many Nebraska state agencies and offices are located in Lincoln, as are several United States Government agencies and offices. The city lies within the Lincoln Public Schools school district;[128] the primary law enforcement agency for the city is the Lincoln Police Department. The Lincoln Fire and Rescue Department shoulders the city's fire fighting and emergency ambulatory services while private companies provide non-emergency medical transport[129] and outlying areas of the city are supported by volunteer fire fighting units.[130]

The city's public library system is Lincoln City Libraries, which has seven branches.[131] Lincoln City Libraries circulates more than three million items per year to the residents of Lincoln and Lancaster County. Lincoln City Libraries is also home to Polley Music Library and the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska authors.[131]


Primary and secondary education[edit]

Lincoln Public Schools is the sole public school district in the city. There are six traditional high schools in the district: Lincoln High, East, Northeast, North Star, Southeast, and Southwest. Additionally, Lincoln Public Schools is home to special interest high schools including the Arts and Humanities Focus Program, the Zoo School, the Information Technology Focus Program, the Entrepreneurship Focus Program and the Bryan Community.[132]

There are several private parochial elementary and middle schools located throughout the community.[133] These schools, like Lincoln Public Schools, are broken into districts, but most will allow attendance outside of boundary lines.

Private high schools located in Lincoln are College View Academy, Lincoln Christian, Lincoln Lutheran, Parkview Christian and Pius X High School.[133]

Colleges and universities[edit]

There are currently nine colleges and universities located within Lincoln proper. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln,[13] the flagship campus of the University of Nebraska system, is the largest university in Nebraska. Other colleges and universities based in Lincoln are: Bryan College of Health Sciences,[134] Nebraska Wesleyan University,[135] Southeast Community College[136] and Union College.[137]

Colleges and universities with satellite locations in Lincoln are Bellevue University,[138] Concordia University (Nebraska),[139] Doane College,[140] and Kaplan University.[141]

Other schools, not to be confused with the colleges above, are the College of Hair Design[142] and Joseph's College of Cosmetology.[143]



Lincoln has four licensed broadcast television stations:[144]

The headquarters of Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET), which is affiliated with the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio, are in Lincoln.[148]

Lincoln is one of the few cities without its own NBC affiliate; Omaha's WOWT served as the city's default NBC affiliate until recently when Hastings' KHAS-TV moved to KSNB-TV, making both available on cable.[149] Omaha's other television stations can also be picked up in Lincoln with an antenna, and all full-power stations are available on cable.

Lincoln also has an analog TV translator for 3ABN on channel 27, low power digital on channel 26; TBN low power digital on channel 29.[144]


There are 13 radio stations licensed in Lincoln, not including radio stations licensed outside of the city that serve the Lincoln area.

View of a Lincoln radio station studio (KLIN-AM)

FM stations include:[150]

  • KLCV (88.5) – Religious talk
  • KZUM (89.3) – Independent Community Radio
  • KRNU (90.3) – Alternative / College radio UNL
  • KUCV (91.1) – National Public Radio
  • K220GT (91.9) – Contemporary Christian
  • K233AN (94.5) – Hot AC
  • KLNC (105.3) – Adult Hits
  • KFRX (106.3) – Top-40
  • KBBK (107.3) – Hot AC
  • KJFT-LP (107.9) – Chinese-language Christian

AM stations include:[151]

  • KFOR (1240) – News/Talk
  • KLIN (1400) – News/Talk
  • KLMS (1480) – Sports Talk

Most areas of Lincoln also receive radio signals from Omaha and other surrounding communities.


The Lincoln Journal Star is the city's major daily newspaper;[152] the Daily Nebraskan is the official campus paper of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln;[153] The DailyER Nebraskan is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's biweekly satirical paper;[154] the Reveille is the official periodical campus paper of Nebraska Wesleyan University;[155] the Clocktower is the official campus paper of Union College.[156]



Street and highway map of Lincoln

Major highways[edit]

Lincoln is served by I-80.svg Interstate 80 via 7.25 interchanges, connecting the city to San Francisco and Teaneck, New Jersey[157] (in the New York City Metropolitan Area). Other Highways that serve the Lincoln area are I-180.svg Interstate 180, US 6.svg U.S. Highway 6, US 34.svg U.S. Highway 34, US 77.svg U.S. Highway 77 and nearby N-79.svg Nebraska Highway 79. N-2.svg Nebraska Highway 2 (eastern segment) is a primary trucking route that connects Kansas City (Interstate 29) to the I-80 corridor in Lincoln.[158] A few additional minor State Highway segments reside within the city as well.[159]

Mass transit[edit]

A public bus transit system, StarTran, operates in Lincoln. StarTran's fleet consists of 63 full-sized buses and 13 Handi-Vans.[160]

Intercity transit[edit]

The Lincoln Airport (KLNK/LNK) provides passengers with daily non-stop service to United Airlines hubs Chicago O'Hare International Airport & Denver International Airport as well as Delta Air Lines hubs Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport & Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. General aviation support is provided through several private aviation companies.[161] The Lincoln Airport was among the emergency landing sites for the NASA Space Shuttle.[162] The site was chosen chiefly because of a 12,901 feet (3,932 m) runway; the longest of three at the airport.[163]

Aerial view of the Lincoln Airport passenger terminal.

Lincoln is served by Black Hills Stage Lines for regional bus service between Omaha and Denver.[164]

Amtrak provides service to Lincoln, operating its California Zephyr daily in each direction between Chicago and Emeryville, California, using BNSF's Lincoln - Denver route through Nebraska.

Rail freight[edit]

Rail freight travels coast-to-coast, to & through Lincoln via BNSF Railway, the Union Pacific Railroad, Lincoln's own Omaha, Lincoln and Beatrice Railway Company[165] and an Omaha Public Power District rail spur.[166] Lincoln was once served by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (Rock Island), the Missouri Pacific Railroad (MoPac) and the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company (C&NW)[167] (most of the abandoned right-of-way of these former railroads have since been turned into bicycle trails).


Power in Lincoln is provided by the Lincoln Electric System (LES). The LES service area covers 200 square miles, serving not only Lincoln but also several other communities outside of the city. A public utility,[168] LES's electric rates are the 13th lowest in the nation (according to a nationwide survey conducted by LES, as of January 1, 2014).[169] Current LES power supply resources are 43% coal, 42% oil & gas and 15% renewable.[170] Power derived by renewable resources are expected to climb to 48% by 2016, with partial help from the addition of an LES-owned 5 Megawatt solar energy farm that will be built on the west side of Lincoln[171] (expected to be in service by 2016).[170] LES also owns two wind turbines in the northeast part of the city.[172]

Water in Lincoln is provided through the Lincoln Water System.[173] Most of Lincoln's water originates from wells along the Platte River near Ashland, Nebraska.[174] Wastewater is in turn collected by the Lincoln Wastewater System.[175] Both systems are owned by the city of Lincoln.

Natural gas is provided by Black Hills Energy.[176]

Landline telephone service has had a storied history within the Lincoln area. Beginning as the Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Company (more recently merging to become Aliant Communications and then Alltel),[177] Windstream Communications[178] provides telephone service both over VoIP and conventional telephone circuits.[179] Also, Time Warner Cable offers telephone service over VoIP on their cable network.[180][181]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Official records for Lincoln kept at University of Nebraska–Lincoln (Weather Bureau) from January 1887 to December 1947, Lincoln Municipal Airport from January 1948 to June 1954, Lincoln University (campus) from July 1954 to August 1955, the Weather Bureau in downtown from September 1955 to August 1972, and at Lincoln Municipal Airport since September 1972.[182]
  2. ^ Only 20 to 22 years of data were used to calculate relative humidity normals.


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  182. ^ ThreadEx

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