The first move for the organization of Lancaster County occurred in the fall of 1859, when a public meeting was held under the "Great Elm" which stood on the east bank of Salt Creek, near what is now the northwest corner of the Burlington depot grounds in Lincoln. Festus Reed was elected chairman, and gave a speech to the people attending the meeting extolling the further greatness of the state and the county. Three men were appointed to select a location for the county seat, and they chose the present site of Lincoln. The county was given the name of Lancaster.
In 1863, a part of Clay County (which had been eliminated) was added to Lancaster County, making it the size it is today. Lancaster County is 36 miles in length and 24 miles in width, 864 square miles.
Originally there was no official courthouse. Meetings and elections were held in a building at 10th and O Street or in the commissioners' homes. The original plat of Lincoln showed a square block at 10th and L Street set aside by the state for the county's use. In 1888 plans for the courthouse were approved and the cornerstone was laid on November 1, 1888. The building, 150 ft. by 100 ft., was constructed of stone from Berea, Ohio, and was considered completely fireproof. A cupola, topped with the statue of Abraham Lincoln, graced the building. Over the years, the main change in the original building was the removal of the tower and the statue after maintenance problems and the deterioration of the statue. The building served as the courthouse until 1968, when a new County-city building was constructed.
Three commissioners, appointed by the Legislature to select a capital for the new state of Nebraska, made their historic decision on July 29, 1867. The capital, called Lincoln, would be located on the site of Lancaster, a tiny settlement of 30 inhabitants, near Salt Basin in Lancaster County.
When Nebraska was a territory, there was dissatisfaction, particularly among those living south of the Platte, with the choice of Omaha as the capital. A drive to move the capital began as soon as Nebraska was admitted to the Union. David Butler, Governor at that time, sympathized with the anti-Omaha group.
In a special session, the Legislature passed a bill to provide for the location of the seat of government of the State of Nebraska, and the erection of public buildings thereat. The bill established a commission made up of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Auditor. The commission was to select a site of not less than 650 acres from state-owned land within Lancaster, Seward, Butler and/or Saunders counties. The name of the town was to be Capital City.
J.H.N. Patrick, a Douglas County Democrat, proposed changing the name to Lincoln. Patrick thought the name "Lincoln" would discourage Democratic votes from south of the Platte, thus enabling Omaha to become the capital. Republican Abraham Lincoln, then President, was not the universally admired hero he is today. But Democrats south of the Platte wanted the capital and refused to let politics sway their loyalty to their district. They voted unanimously for relocation of the capital, which would be called Lincoln.
Lincoln was incorporated on April 7, 1869 as a village. On March 18, 1871 it was reorganized into a Second Class City with its own charter as provided by the state legislature for cities between 1,500 and 15,000 population.
History of the City Seal
The City Seal, in one form or another, has been a symbol of Lincoln government for nearly 100 years. A profile of President Abraham Lincoln, whose name was given to the capital city, has been a part of the Seal since 1895 when it appeared in the Citys first revised ordinance book.
The inscription, "Incorporated March 18, 1871," is included on the Seal in a half circle
around the head of Lincoln and the word "Seal" below.
During Lincoln's centennial in 1967, the City Council amended the Seal to include the founding date of July 29, 1867, and the corrected incorporation date of April 7, 1869.
The City of Lincoln's flag is patterned after an entry submitted by Mrs. J.E. Fiselman in a 1931 flag design competition. The winning entry depicts Lincoln's role as an agricultural center and the capital of Nebraska.
The flag's background is blue and it includes a shock of wheat, two yellow ears of corn with green husks, and Nebraska's Capitol Building. At the flag's dedication ceremony, Acting Mayor Blake reminded citizens of the importance of Lincoln's agricultural heritage.
Lancaster County Flag
In 1983, County Commissioner Jan Gauger suggested that a contest be held to design a county flag.
In an unanimous decision, the County Board selected a flag designed by Doug Daharsh. The green flag includes the County-City Building and two horse-drawn plows at the center. It joined four other flags displayed on poles at the east entrance of the Hall of Justice.
Lincoln is the state capital of Nebraska and the state's second largest city, with a growing population of more than 209,000.
The citizens of Lincoln pride themselves on having a great quality of life. The city was identified as the 7th "Best Small Metro Area" in the nation by Places Rated Almanac 2000. Lincoln was ranked as the 4th "Fittest City in the U.S." in 2000 and was the fifth city in the nation to receive the "Well City USA" award. Lincoln ranks as having the 6th best commute time among 200 cities and residents consistently have some of the lowest-cost home electric bills in the nation.
The City offers a diverse range of employment opportunities in professional services, manufacturing, and technology. As the state capital and home of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UN-L), Nebraska Wesleyan University and several other colleges, there are also many employment opportunities in higher education, research and government.
Lincoln's industrial base is strong and growing. Several important industries established before the turn of the century are based in Lincoln and new businesses arrive each year. Some of the firms that call Lincoln home include: Goodyear Tire & Rubber; Kawasaki Motors Corp.; Novartis Laboratories; The Gallup Organization; Information Technology Inc.; MDS Pharma Services Laboratories; Centurion International; ADM Milling & Elevator Company; Yankee Hill Brick Manufacturing; Li-Cor Inc., Pfizer Animal Health Corp, and Garner Industries. In all there are more than 200 businesses representing more than 100 types of manufacturing.
The insurance industry has a major presence in Lincoln, with more than 20 companies based in the city. Just a few of those companies include Ameritas Life Insurance Corp., Lincoln Benefit Life Co., and Woodman Accident & Life Co. Lincoln also has a thriving medical community which includes four hospitals.
Entertainment is everywhere in Lincoln. Lincoln is home of the consistently nationally top ranked University of Nebraska Cornhuskers football, volleyball, gymnastics and baseball teams. Each Fall downtown Lincoln becomes a sea of red on UN-L home football game days as 76,000+ fans head to Memorial Stadium to cheer on the Huskers. Sports fans also enjoy the Lincoln Lightning arena football team; the Lincoln Stars hockey team; and the new Lincoln Saltdogs baseball team.
Lincoln has a rich cultural life. The Lied Center for Performing Arts showcases national and international entertainers and just down the street is the world renowned Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery. Other attractions include the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Lincoln Community Playhouse, Lincoln Symphony Orchestra and the Zoo Bar, one of the best blues venues in the nation. Annual events include the State Fair held each August in Lincoln and local festivals such as July Jam. A tour of the historic State Capital is a must for visitors and there is always fun at the Folsom Children's Zoo, a variety of museums, parks, gardens, and special events.
The historic Haymarket District, located on the west edge of downtown, offers a unique mix of shopping, nightlife and restaurants. Lincoln also offers several major shopping areas, with Gateway Mall located on East "O" street, SouthPointe Pavilions located on South 27th Street, and a wide variety of stores on North 27th Street.
Lincoln has a well-deserved reputation as a family town and is one of the finest cities in the country to raise children. In 1999, Lincoln was rated as the 7th most "Kid Friendly City" in America. Lincoln ranked in the top 15 percent in overall educational opportunities and ranked in the highest category in support of schools, public libraries, and college opportunities. Lincoln students consistently score above the national average in ACT and SAT test scores.
The County-City Building
The process of planning a joint County-City Building dates back to the 1940's. Ground for the $5 million complex at 10th & Lincoln Mall was not broken until 1966. The buildings five floors housed both City and County agencies, including the Mayor, City Council, and County Commissioners. County, District, and Juvenile Courts were also located in the building.
In 1989, construction began on a new Corrections Facility just south of the County-City Building. The building was dedicated in 1991 and houses County and City prisoners and some administrative offices. The Corrections Facility is connect to Hall of Justice (formerly the County-City Building mentioned above) by elevated walkways.
Then in 1998, construction began on a new County/City Building. The offices of the Mayor, City Council and County Commissioners moved into the newly constructed building at 555 South 10th Street, on the southwest corner of 10th and K Streets. Following the move into the new building, the former County-City Building was remodeled and became the Justice and Law Enforcement Center.
Efficiency, security and a strong "eye toward the future" are available in the new Justice and Law Enforcement Center, located between the Corrections Facility and the County-City Building at 575 South 10th Street. The Justice and Law Enforcement Center allowed the co-location of the Police and Sheriff's offices. This gave both entities the opportunity to pool resources and share space, including interrogation and investigation rooms, locker rooms, fitness rooms and a new 24-hour service desk.
The Court system is also located in the Justice and Law Enforcement Center. In the Lincoln/Lancaster County Judicial System there are six County Courtrooms, seven District Courtrooms, three Juvenile Courtrooms and two hearing rooms. Enhancing the securty of our community's courtrooms is an issue that is solved with the Justice and Law Enforcement Center. The safety of our jurors, litigants and court employees is essential. The Justice and Law Enforcement Center features a single, secure point of entry for the public and eliminates the co-mingling of prisoners and the general public.
"People can rest assured that if they are called as a juror, if they have a case pending in court where they are a litigant, or they have children here for a tour of this building, they'll be safe," emphasized Sheriff Terry Wagner
Next: City Government