|In Omaha - Pulling out of the Airport Parking Garage|
"We're not in Jersey anymore, Toto," I said to Tom.
Our hotel billed itself as 'located in the heart of downtown Omaha.' Which confused me. All I spied nearby were flat-topped concrete buildings sprinkled along wide-ass four lane roads with passing lanes separated by expansive empty parking lots. No pedestrians. Basically, no traffic either.
"Where's the city?" I asked the front desk clerk. She gave me a funny look.
"I mean, where are all the things?" I continued.
"What kind of things?" replied the front desk clerk. She was really very pleasant.
"I mean, where's your downtown?"
"We're right in the middle of downtown, actually."
I took a moment to regroup. Clearly I've lived east coast way too long.
Basically, it turns out, Omaha consists of three high rise-ish buildings in a cluster. They call this "Midtown." And then a couple miles away, there's a block or two of revitalized warehouses lined with cute shops and restaurants. It's kind of like a tiny little meatpacking district, but with fewer streetside pharmaceutical peddlers, B&Ts and blond Russians in stilettos and micro minis.
Someone also mentioned a neighborhood where "all the immigrants live" and where the tacos are amazing; but I never got a bead on the specifics.
I decided to go out for a walk and investigate what lay in between this "Midtown" and "Downtown."
|Midtown in the distance|
A few blocks out, I passed a yard, patchy brown grass and a car sitting on the grass with the hood open and a guy in a wife beater bent over it. A woman stood nearby talking loudly and shaking her finger. A cat ran by.
At some point it became clear that although Omaha boasts 400,000 residents, it might be because it covers like 200,000 square miles.
But seriously, the people were lovely. They put up with my shenanigans and puzzled blank stares. They are very proud of Omaha for many excellent reasons. It's just not really a city is my only and main point.