the north omaha maps

The North Omaha maps

dumpster story, Summer of 2020 / By Lew

a Dumpster Archeology visual story

A brown smudge that was once a house, a tiny white vein of road connecting smudges, and a series of black lines marking the topographical grid of knowledge. The Maps are important.

the north omaha maps

It tells us what is there. In this case, a photograph of a terrain overlaid with mathematical precision. I found the maps in a Dumpster one rainy day in DeMunn.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, wandering up the alleyway, watching dark rain clouds form and wondering how long I had. Dumpster Diving on a Tuesday is not always favorable as the Dump-trucks have emptied the weekend trash. Everything already had a coat of rain from the last rain front and the energy was low.

Opening the dumpster, I saw the maps, the photographic quality paper neatly folded in a large stacks of wet weirdness. It spoke to me and I gambled on it’s significance. A plastic bag was found to stuff a bunch of the wet thick paper for easy handling, then add a couple interesting other pamphlets. Placed on the drying rack, I waited 24 hours and neatly unfolded the maps to see what could be discovered…….

What was the story? Who owned the maps? Where are the maps from?

This is the Story……..

North 75 is a freeway that rolls out of downtown Omaha towards the once tiny towns that surrounded Fort Omaha, a historical footnote, much like the blighted area. From the fancy edges of Lake Street to the commerce and hustle/bustle of 30th street but it all changed after the Riots of the 1970s.

White Flight…the scourge of the Urbanite as the neighborhood families moved out, elderly found smaller worlds and a city emptied except for the poor and HARD. A historical reality that is literally mapped for us in my Maps.

There are the empty lots, missing important houses that burned down years ago. The low income housing, those industrial districts with meager wages and food deserts. This is the story in many cities across America, as our map tells us the same repeating tale of class struggle.

Who made the maps?

Tim Page did…a St Louis Resident and dumper of his personal trash in the DeMunn alleyway.

Tim Page is an engineer, has been one for a 27 plus years according to online sources, and most of career has been working for CH2M-Hill. In 2017, the entire company was sold as 90 percent of the employees took the buy-out and retired as the Stock prices soared.

Did Tim retire and dump his office?

CH2M was founded in Oregon around 1970 by environmentalist engineers who wanted to repair the environment, create solutions and not work for the “Man”. It was owned by the employees who worked hard and fast to fix problems, produce science based solutions and save the world while also….making money.

CH2M-Hill and Tim have done some amazing stuff in St Louis. Gateway Greening projects, like the Bike paths, Dale Ave, and the strange Del Mar Loop Trolley fiasco. Yet he was in Omaha in 2016 where the money has moved into the North 75 Omaha area with billion dollar “Green Projects”, some backed by Warren Buffet.

Eventually CH2M- Hill became a billion dollar industry taking massive government, public and global scale projects, like working on the Olympics or helping several cities recreate entire Sewer systems, something they did in Omaha, where the contracts ran deep into the City Coffers.

One particular NonProfit called 75 North, has been building apartments and working within the African American populace to better the community. The staff and CEO grew up on these streets and now are making it better with the help of CH2M-Hill, or actually now Jacobs, the Colorado Government contract company that bought the Firm in 2017.

So here is Tim Page in 2016, walking around North Omaha in two locations…. marking which building are there…and which are missing. Two particular areas.

Monmouth Neighborhood is a North 30th street section, where Tim took very careful notes, marking in red, yellow and green in an unknown code of typography. At 16th and Lake st, near the railroad tracks, Tim did the same thing.

My North Omaha Maps are still a mystery. What was CH2M doing in those neighborhoods? What was the plan? The Firm did wonderful work for many people, before it was turned into a government disaster response unit, working in New Orleans after Katrina and the Gulf after the oil spill, only in both those cases, the general public wasn’t happy with their fulfillment of the contract. This is of course … a billion dollar Engineering Firm which made of diverse, interesting Do-gooders….so positive reviews exist of their work as well.

This is a Dumpster Archeology story that is still underway. It has a poetic….very NOW sort of feel to it and we will see what stirring up the sand bar will do in a city called Omaha next to the Missouri River

From the Summer Dumpster Archeology Digital Magazine 2020