This metropolitan area includes Omaha, Nebraska’s largest city, and Council Bluffs, a more industrial city on the Iowa bank of the Missouri River. As a gateway to the Great Plains, Omaha is historically a world-class livestock, meat packing, and grain-shipping city. The city has always been a gateway and transportation center, starting with the Lewis and Clark expedition and later as the eastern terminus of the transcontinental Union Pacific Railroad. Today the city’s diverse economy includes food production and insurance- Mutual of Omaha, ConAgra, and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Company have headquarters here. Led by Mr. Buffett, Omaha reportedly has more millionaires per capita than any other U.S. city.
Typically Midwestern, the city is well-kept and not flashy. The Downtown is clean and modern, with attractive redevelopment in former rail yards along the Missouri River waterfront. There are attractive new high-rise residential developments along the waterfront and a nice historic district. Shaded streets and older suburbs cover the hills north and immediately west of town, while newer development lies in the flatter areas to the west along I-80 and I-680. Attractive, well-spaced suburbs lead into the country through Boys Town (named after the major facility of that name), Papillion to the south, Elkhorn to the west in the North Platte Valley, all the way to Wahoo. The latter is a small Scandinavian farming community starting to grow as a nice rural alternative with access to Lincoln to the south. Housing values throughout the area are excellent.
The Strategic Air Command headquarters and nearby Offutt Air Force Base provide a sizable military presence, and Creighton University brings a college-town element. The harsh climate can be rough, and crime rates are a little high for the region.
Omaha is situated on the west bank of the Missouri River. The narrow river valley gives way to hills and ridges rising about 350 feet above the valley. Lush deciduous trees cover the hills, especially to the north, while the land to the west and south is more level and open as prairie and farmland. The climate is typically continental with relatively warm summers and cold, dry winters. It is situated midway between two distinctive climatic zones, the humid east and the dry west. Fluctuations between the two produce weather conditions characteristic of either zone or combinations of both. Omaha is also affected by most storm systems crossing the country, causing periodic and rapid changes in weather (especially during winter months). Most precipitation falls during strong summer showers or thunderstorms, mainly in the evening or nighttime. Although winters are relatively cold, precipitation is light. Wind can be significant, particularly to the west. First freeze is mid-October, last is late April.