Apr 042017

The Durham (Omaha Union Station) at Twilight
Omaha Union Station at Twilight

On January 11, 2017, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior designated Omaha Union Station (listed on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1971) a National Historic Landmark. Which is kind of a big deal: only about 2,500 of the more than 85,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places are designated National Historic Landmarks.

I’ve shot this magnificent example of Art Deco architecture before, but wanted to highlight its new status with this post. Interior’s January designation noted that the Station “is one of the most distinctive and complete examples of Art Deco architecture in the nation . . . [and] outstandingly expresses the style’s innovative and diverse surface ornamentation inspired by the machine age.” That surface ornamentation includes the heroic female and male railroad worker bas-relief sculptures seen in the photos below (and close up here and here). The station’s great hall boasts a 60 foot high, sculpted plaster ceiling with gold and silver leaf trim, a terrazzo floor including marvelous starbust patterns, and impressive 13-foot tall chandeliers. See here for more on the station’s history and architecture.

Omaha Union Station (10th Street entrance façade)
Omaha Union Station (south entrance)

Designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood in 1929, Omaha Union Station opened in 1931. In addition to other rail stations and federal buildings such as the San Francisco Mint, Underwood is known for designing landmark lodges and hotels in many National Parks, including Yellowstone, Bryce, Grand Teton, and Yosemite (there the famous Ahwahnee Hotel, currently embroiled in a trademark dispute over rights to its name, but that’s another story).

mimic and pose

Blue Hour at the Durham (Union Station)

The designated landmark is actually the third Omaha Union Station at the site and replaced the second Union Station built adjacent to the historic 10th Street bridge in 1899. Omaha Burlington Station—first opened in 1898 across the rail yard from Union Station—also served passengers in the busy Omaha rail hub of the first half of the 20th Century, the fourth largest in the country. Union Station alone served about 10,000 passengers per day in the 1940s. Passenger rail service declined drastically starting in the mid-1950s, and both Omaha Union Station and Burlington Station closed in the early 1970s when a new Amtrak station opened nearby.

Donated by Union Pacific to the City of Omaha, Union Station now houses the Durham Museum. As noted on the museum’s website, the Durham showcases everything from permanent exhibits highlighting the history of Omaha and its surrounding regions, to traveling exhibitions from the museum’s national partners including the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the Field Museum.


To Trains

Inside Omaha Union Station

Soda Fountain
Setting Sun Illuminates Union Station Lights and Flags_final
Setting Sun Illuminates Union Station Lights and Flags

A full set of two dozen photos of Omaha Union Station I’ve shot over the years may be seen here, on Flickr.


Feb 242017

The Log Cabin
The Log Cabin and the Jones Street Footbridge

Some final photos from a late December walk in Omaha’s Elmwood Park. I already posted a set of photos from a frosty Christmas walk through Elmwood Park. The photos here were shot  several days later when the low-hanging, late-afternoon sun cast long shadows and  bathed trees and buildings in a warm yellow glow.  Oh, and regarding the above photo (and one below), check out these recent posts in Miss Cassette’s excellent My Omaha Obsession on the same subject: Mysteries of Omaha: The Log Cabin and the Jones Street Bridge (part 1) and part 2.

fence posts and shadow lines
fence posts and shadow lines

Elmwood Park Pavilion in the late afternoon sun
Elmwood Park Pavilion in the late afternoon sun


In addition to sanctioned urban art in the park exemplified by the above photo, local kids have kept alive the long-standing tradition of decorating the environs underneath the Jones Street bridge with graffiti and creative urban art, especially on logs around the trails underneath, as I commented on the above mentioned My Omaha Obsession post.

F*CK 50

Graffiti also shows up in the tunnel under the stone bridge in the Elmwood Park Grotto. But I believe such tunnel art is ephemeral because the City routinely paints it over (not a good backdrop for all the wedding photographers who pose wedding parties in the Grotto).

tunnel graffiti
tunnel graffiti

Jones Street Footbridge (without snow)
Jones Street Footbridge in Winter (without snow)

Elmwood Creek (with trail)_final
Elmwood Creek (with trail)

Happy trails.

Feb 172017

Elmwood Park frost and mist
Elmwood Park frost and mist

I’m finally getting around to posting some photos from late December, the last set of shots from a holiday visit to my hometown.  Although I posted other photos from the trip a few weeks ago, this last set was delayed because of other photoblog post-worthy events (e.g. the yuuge Boston Women’s March, a large rally against Trump’s immigrant and travel ban and a recent snow day).

In any event, here are a few photos from a foggy Christmas morning walk. Covered in frost, Omaha’s Elmwood Park looked beautiful, even as the frost started to melt toward the end of the walk and the icy mist began to dissipate.

out for a walk in the icy mist
out for a walk in the icy mist

Frosty mist in Elmwood Park
Elmwood Park from the Jones Street footbridge

light fog across the parktrees and trail in the midst of the frosty mistpark bench and pavilionElmwood Park Frosted

pastoral noir
pastoral noir

Hiking Behind the Bridge in Elmwood Park
Hiking Behind the Bridge in Elmwood Park

the full set may be seen here on Flickr.

Jan 192017

Setting Sun Illuminates Union Station Lights and Flags_final
Setting Sun Illuminates Union Station Lights and Flags

A few photos–shot as monochrome B&W with my Pen F–from a twilight walk down 10th Street while in my hometown of Omaha for the holidays. The walk started at the recently renovated Burlington Station and Omaha Union Station and continued down the 10th Street Viaduct toward the the Old Market.

I also shot a few color photos of Union Station, including this shot of the late afternoon sun illuminating the flags and Art Deco street lamps, as well as this sunset shot looking out over the Union Pacific yards and river into Iowa.  But most of the photos are of old warehouses under the 10th Street Viaduct over the rail yards by Union and Burlington Stations.  The warehouses, including the old Parlin Orendorff building, have all been renovated into residential lofts.

Butternut Coffee Building & 10th St Bridge in the Late Afternoon Sun_final

Parlin Orendorff Building & 10th St Viaduct in the Late Afternoon Sun

Old Market Lofts
Old Market Lofts

Ford's Warehouse No. 14 and couple on bridge with bouquet
Ford’s Warehouse No. 14 & Couple on Bridge with Bouquet

walkway connection

Walkway Connection

eleven lights and one flag
eleven lights and one flag

Jan 072017

Downtown Walk with Holiday Lights
Downtown Walk with Holiday Lights

I took a late evening walk through the Central Park Mall near the Old Market while I was in my hometown of Omaha for the Holidays. Here are a few photos (all hand-held).

Happy New Year.

Holiday Lights Along the Mall
Holiday Lights Along the Mall

Fashion Photo Shoot On the Steps at Twilight

Fashion Photo Shoot on the Mall

The Arch
The Arch

Mall Lit Up
Mall Lit Up

Dec 312016

joslyn art museum composition
Joslyn Composition

A few iPhone photos of Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. The museum boasts a great permanent collection, and the Art Deco architecture is worth a visit alone. As wikipedia notes, the building, opened in 1931, is constructed of “Georgia Pink marble, with 38 different marbles from all over the world in the interior.” Some of that marble is seen in these shots, including the gorgeous fountain court.

joslyn fountain court
fountain court at Joslyn Art Museum2
Looking towards the Fountain Court at Joslyn Art Museum

Dec 162016

lights like four fireflies_new final
Lights Like Four Fireflies

The above photo of the snow-covered Grotto in Omaha’s Elmwood Park is one of several photos of mine found in the 2017 Omaha “River City” Calendar. The calendar is one of five events calendars for Midwestern cities (Chicago, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Omaha) published by American City Calendars. Several of my Omaha photos were published in a previous (2012) ACC calendar and it is nice to again have a few shots selected. (Last time, my mom wiped out the stock of calendars at Barnes & Noble (well, they only had three left), but this time she left a decent stock on the shelves).

The use of my shots also helped justify my decision to update my old Olympus Pen E-P3 m4/3 camera with a new Pen F (and the sale paid for a big chunk on the Pen F, as I noted in a previous post).

Here are a couple of my other photos in the 2017 Omaha ACC calendar:

Joslyn Art Museum in the Summer
Joslyn Art Museum with Daffodils

Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. A beautiful piece of art deco architecture and a surprisingly good permanent art collection (for a city of Omaha’s size). It routinely gets great exhibits to boot. A few other photos I’ve shot of the art museum may be seen here.

Daugherty Conservatory and Visitor / Education Center
Daugherty Conservatory and Visitor & Education Center

The Daugherty Conservancy and Visitor and Education Center at Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s 100 acre, public Botanical garden and center (more about the botanical garden here and here).

Have a great 2017.

Jul 112016

Whoever Loves a Garden…

We had this memorial bench for my dad installed in the Tree Peony Garden within Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s 100+ acre botanical garden and center. Lauritzen Gardens is an “urban oasis of beauty and tranquility” and a “living museum of unique four-season plant displays maintained to the highest standards consistent with environmental stewardship.” It also boasts the fairly new 17,500 square foot Daugherty Conservatory. Some shots of the Gardens and Conservatory may be seen in this set on Flickr.

The inscription on the bench reads “whoever loves and understands a garden will find contentment within.”  This Chinese proverb is a fitting sentiment for the Tree Peony Garden (the Tree Peony is the national flower of China). It’s also a fitting inscription for my father, and leapt out at us when we were considering appropriate quotations last year.

Whoever loves a garden will find contentment within


The stone bench was designed to to complement the three large Kaneko ceramic sculptures that surround the Tree Peony Garden. Jun Kaneko is a renown ceramic and set design artist based in Omaha. As Kaneko says in this 5 minute CBS Sunday Morning news piece on his art, “I call it the spiritual scale. I am trying to make some piece strong enough to pull viewer into it. Then the physical scale is not the issue. You become one with it.”

Installed in November,  I first saw the bench in late December when I was home for the holidays. Here are a couple of shots from that trip:
Dormant Tree Peony Garden

Dormant (December) Tree Peony Garden

memorial bench with the river in the background

Memorial bench in December with the river in the background

behind the bench and Kanekos

Bench and river rocks
bench and river rocks


Full set may be seen here on Flickr.


Jan 312016

center of their own world
Center of their Own World

A few weeks ago, the building in the center of the above photo was destroyed by a devastating fire. This corner was the heart of Omaha’s Old Market.  Listed as a historic district in the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Market was originally Omaha’s wholesale grocery district.  Starting in the late 1960s, funky art galleries, restaurants and boutique shops began springing up along the cobblestone streets and the area gradually became more upscale with loft condos filling the warehouses.  It’s a vibrant part of the city with street performers and many of the areas best restaurants, galleries, and shops. The destroyed building housed the iconic M’s Pub, an Omaha and Old Market institution since 1972 (photos of M’s, from Yelp, in better days here and here). Growing up in Omaha, I have fond memories of lunches and dinners at M’s, which I also often frequented when returning to visit family and friends. The building also housed Nouvelle Eve which opened in 1973. Here’s a photo of Nouvelle Eve’s second floor window I shot several years ago:


old market loft_new_final_slight sepia

Nouvelle Eve Window

The Omaha World Herald has a slideshow of amazing, but heartbreaking, photos of the fire and its aftermath, some of which are pasted and linked below (including the Nouvelle Eve window caked with ice in the fire’s aftermath):

Red Cross Truck_Omaha World Herald (1)

© Omaha World Herald

M's Fire_Omaha World Herald

© Omaha World Herald

Copyright BRENDAN SULLIVAN / THE WORLD-HERALD10cdf703-ff5b-443c-85d5-58dc1e7093ac (1)
© Brandon Sullivan, Omaha World Herald                   © Omaha World Herald

10cdf703-ff5b-443c-85d5-58dc1e7093ac (2)
© Omaha World Herald

For now, the shell of the building is still standing and may be salvaged.  Hopefully the building exterior can be saved but it will never be the same, no matter how faithful any restoration effort.

Jan 162016

Blue Hour at the Durham (Union Station)
Blue Hour at the Durham

Omaha Union Station (1931) was one of the first Art Deco train station in the United States. It replaced the former Omaha Union Station built in 1899 (seen here in this old post card). The Art Deco Union Station closed for rail service in the 1970s and now houses the Durham Museum.

The Durham (Omaha Union Station) at Twilight Omaha Union Station

Christmas at Union Station

mimic and pose

Full set of photos may be seen here, on Flickr.

Omaha’s other passenger train station, the Italianate Burlington Station (1898) also closed in 1974 when a new Amtrak station was built a block or so to the east. The Burlington Station just underwent a major renovation, see my previous blog post and this set of photos on Flickr.

I’ve shot the Durham Museum / Union Station before. See, e.g. here for a closer up shot of the front façade, here for a close up of one of the south side entrances, and here for another shot of the interior.