Omaha’s Livestock Exchange Building 

A man named Alexander Swan was a rancher in Wyoming. A rancher is a person who raises animals. He did not want to raise his animals and send them all the way to Chicago, Illinois to be sold. That was too far. He thought building a stockyard in Omaha would be a good idea. 

In 1884 cattle pens were built in Omaha. The animals would be brought there and sold. In 1886 the Omaha Livestock Exchange Building was built. Many meat packing businesses were built near the stockyards. There were four main meat packing businesses. They were called the “Big Four.” They were Armour, Cudahy, Wilson and Swift. 

Ranchers sent cattle, hogs and sheep to the Omaha Livestock Exchange Building. The animals would be bought by meat packing companies and made into food and other items. 

There were a total of 3 Livestock Exchange Buildings that were built in Omaha’s history. The building we can see today was built 1926. The building was designed by George Prinz. Construction on the building was started on November 14, 1924. Animals were shipped to Omaha by the railroad first. When the interstates were built, trucks could carry the animals as well as trains. The Union Pacific Railroad had railroad tracks that went straight to the stockyards. 

The Livestock Exchange Building was very busy in South Omaha. On very busy days, trucks with animals in them would be lined up from 36th and L Street to 72nd Street! Ranchers would bring their animals to the stockyards to be sold. People that wanted to buy the animals could walk on elevated walkways to see the animals instead of walking through the dirty pens! 

The building wasn’t just used to buy and sell animals. This building was full of many people and lots of different businesses. The bottom floor of the building had a bakery, a cafeteria, and railroad offices. The main lobby was on the second floor. Stockyards National Bank was next to the main lobby. 

A soda fountain, cigar stand, and telephone and telegraph offices were on the rest of the main floor. Floors two through nine had offices that helped buyers and sellers do their business. A convention hall, dining room, and kitchen filled the top floors of the building. Apartments and sleeping rooms were also in the building. Many times ranchers bringing in their cattle on the trains to trade needed a place to stay and sleep. The building had a clothing store. The wives of the farmers and ranchers would shop there. The wives of the stockyards workers would shop there too. 

Because of all the things to do in the building, people would visit to shop and eat without even having anything to do with buying or selling animals.

Over 1,000 people visited the building every day. Many of them didn’t even have anything to do with buying or selling animals. People came to the building to shop in its clothing store, get a haircut, drop off clothes at the cleaners, visit the doctor in the first aid room, or take a sick animal to the vet. 

The Omaha Livestock Exchange Building Today 

By the 1970s meat packing plants were being built closer to the farmers and ranchers so the Omaha Livestock Exchange building wasn’t needed for the business of buying and selling animals. 

The Omaha Livestock Exchange Building is still standing in South Omaha. This building is close to the John F. Kennedy Freeway. Its address is 4920 South 30th Street. It is made of brick and there are many windows. It has 11 stories. It looks like the letter H with a large space in the middle. Many trees are planted around it. 

In 2005 OneWorld Community Health Center moved into the building. You can see a doctor or a dentist or get medicine there. You can also live at the Omaha Livestock Exchange Building. They have apartments you can rent. The top floor of the Livestock Exchange Building has 2 ballrooms in it. They are two big rooms where you can have a wedding or any other type of party.