Dundee-Memorial Park: Omaha, Nebraska
A sense of community is palpable in the Dundee-Memorial Park neighborhood, where residents and merchants have sought National Register status, funded a streetscape plan, restored historic street lamps, and pushed to be declared a neighborhood conservation and enhancement district. A mix of uses, from quaint shops and restaurants to lovely early 20th century homes and inviting parks, infuses the neighborhood with vitality.
The neighborhood is bounded by Western Avenue and Hamilton Street to the north; North and South 48th Street to the east; Howard and Leavenworth Streets to the south; and South Happy Hollow Boulevard, North 61st Street, Parkwood Lane and North 60th Street to the west.
Dating back 140 years, Dundee-Memorial Park has retained its charm and much of its historic architecture while accommodating new development. Its proximity to educational institutions and a major medical center add to its character.
Omaha's first street-car suburb, Dundee attracted upscale homes through developer covenants that required a specified minimum investment in the neighborhood's houses. The area also benefited from recommendations and suggestions of noted landscape architect Horace Cleveland, who developed an 1889 parks and boulevard plan for Omaha that included Happy Hollow Boulevard, the neighborhood's western border.
Other special features of the neighborhood include Memorial and Elmwood parks and two shopping corridors, one of which — at the southwest corner of 50th and Underwood — draws residents from all over Omaha.
Defining Characteristics, Features
Reliance on planning
- Dundee platted as an independent, streetcar suburb (1880s), later annexed by the City of Omaha (1915)
- The neighborhood's western border, Happy Hollow Boulevard, was one of the streets included in Horace Cleveland's 1889 parks and boulevard plan for Omaha
- Dundee Historic District listed on National Register of Historic Places (2005)
- Original downtown Dundee offers a unique shopping and dining experience as many businesses exist within intact, historic commercial structures. Merchants installed benches, planters, trees, four-sided chiming street clock, and hanging flower baskets (1997)
- City allocates $550,000 of $2.2 million needed to implement merchant-funded streetscape master plan (2009) to improve traffic flow, increase parking, and add amenities
- Dundee Neighborhood Conservation-Enhancement District Plan adopted for two-block commercial area (2010) in order to preserve unique characteristics and qualities
Active and engaged citizens
- Adopt-a-streetlight program of the Dundee-Memorial Park Association (est. 1989) now a full-fledged restoration effort. More than 200 of 328 historic cast-iron poles have been sandblasted and repainted or replaced. Residents planted some 475 flower baskets; many hang from streetlamps
- Residents commission Memorial Park sculpture (2009); Streetcar Wall (2002) celebrating early streetcar line; and plaque (1992) commemorating World War II dropping of a Japanese balloon bomb
- Dundee Day, spring clean up, holiday lights contest, and guided trolley-driven history tour are among numerous events that residents plan, administer, and staff
- Resident-created walking tour included in Omaha by Design's "Nine in '09 Great Walks;" tour features several cultural sites, including the childhood home of actor Henry Fonda
- Single-family homes from wood, brick, stone, and concrete run gamut from modest to extravagant. Dundee residences include Period Revivals — especially Colonial, Georgian and Tudor — on tree-lined lots; original covenants required $2,500 minimum cost and use of an architect
- Many locally distinguished architectural firms left their mark in this unique neighborhood
- Multi-dwelling structures along the historic streetcar route remain intact; apartments, duplexes and row houses reflect Italian Renaissance, Prairie School, and Spanish Colonial styles
- Multifamily housing includes low-rise apartments, condos, duplexes, and row houses, allowing residents of more moderate means
- The 216-acre Elmwood Park (1889), one of the parks renowned landscape architect Horace Cleveland suggested to the city, includes golf course, swimming pool, picnic area, and hiking trails; separates the neighborhood from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, campus
- The 67-acre Memorial Park, originally proposed by a local resident, was dedicated in 1948 by President Harry S. Truman; includes war memorial and rose garden. An annual concert at the park attracts more than 50,000 each year
- The 107-year-old Dundee Elementary School receives a $5.2 million makeover in 1994. The Brownell-Talbot School (1863) is Nebraska's only private, independent, co-ed, college-prep day school; 17-acre site part of original estate of Dundee founder John Nelson Patrick Hayes
- Two vintage commercial districts in neighborhood feature mom-and-pop shops, other stores; southwest corner of 50th and Underwood one of city's top 10 public spaces, "a great place to sit back and watch the events of the day unfold," according to the nonprofit Omaha by Design
- Neighborhood connected by bus to Midtown, Downtown, and Westroads Transit Centers
- Dundee Food Community reinvented how residents get food by coordinating community vegetable garden, yard sharing, seed and seedling swap, food swap, and fruit registry; received a $1,155 grant (2011) from city to plant a community orchard in Memorial Park