Grand Island, Nebraska
—  City  —
Hall County Courthouse in Grand Island
Location of Grand Island, Nebraska
Coordinates: 40°55′20″N 98°21′29″W / 40.92222, -98.35806Coordinates: 40°55′20″N 98°21′29″W / 40.92222, -98.35806
Country United States
State Nebraska
County Hall
 • Mayor Jay Vavricek
 • Total 28.3 sq mi (73 km2)
 • Land 28.2 sq mi (73 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 1,860 ft (567 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 48,520
 • Density 2,000.2/sq mi (772.3/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 68801-68803
Area code(s) 308
FIPS code 31-19595[1]
GNIS feature ID 0829622[2]

Grand Island is a city in and the county seat of Hall County, Nebraska, United States.[3] The population was 48,520 at the 2010 census.[4]

Grand Island is home to the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center (NLETC) which is the sole agency responsible for training law enforcement officers throughout the state, as well as the home of the Southern Power District serving southern Nebraska.

Grand Island has been given the All-America City Award three times (1955, 1967, and 1981–82) by the National Civic League.

Grand Island is the principal city of the Grand Island Micropolitan Statistical Area, which consists of Hall, Merrick, and Howard counties.


In 1857, thirty-five German settlers left Davenport, Iowa, and headed west to Nebraska to start a new settlement on an island known by French traders as La Grande Isle, which was formed by the Wood River and the Platte River. The settlers reached their destination on July 4, 1857, and by September had built housing using local timber. Over the next 9 years, the settlers had to overcome many hardships, including blizzards and conflicts with Native Americans.[5]

Surveyors from the Union Pacific Railroad laid out a town called Grand Island Station and many settlers living on Grand Island moved to the new town, located slightly inland from the island.[6] In 1868 the railroad reached the area, bringing increased trade and business. By 1870, 1,057 people lived in the town and in 1872 the town was incorporated as Grand Island.[5]

In about 1890, sugar beets were introduced as a crop in Nebraska. The first sugar beet processing factory in the United States was built in the southwest part of Grand Island.[5]

1980 tornadoes[]

On June 3, 1980, Grand Island was hit by a massive supercell storm. Through the course of the evening, the city was ravaged by seven tornadoes, the worst of which was rated F4 on the Fujita Scale. The hardest hit area of town was the South Locust business district. There were five deaths as a result of the tornadoes.

Tornado Hill is a local landmark created as a direct result of the tornadoes. Debris that could not be recycled was burnt near Fonner Park and buried within Ryder Park, on the west end of town. The base of the hill was a hole 6–8 feet deep and nearly 200 feet across, and the hill is 40 feet high. It is used for sledding in this naturally flat area.[7]

A book, Night of the Twisters, by Ivy Ruckman, and movie were based on this event.[8]

Geography and climate[]

Grand Island is located in Nebraska. 40°55′20″N 98°21′29″W / 40.922316, -98.357996.[9] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.3 square miles (73 km2), of which 28.2 square miles (73 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.60%) is water.

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 76 80 90 96 101 107 109 110 104 96 82 76
Norm High °F 32.6 38.6 49.5 61.9 71.9 83 87.1 84.8 76.9 64.6 46.8 35.3
Norm Low °F 12.2 17.7 27 37.8 49.3 59.1 64.4 62.3 51.8 39.3 25.9 15.9
Rec Low °F -28 -19 -21 7 23 38 42 40 23 9 -11 -26
Precip (in) 0.54 0.68 2.04 2.61 4.07 3.72 3.14 3.08 2.43 1.51 1.41 0.66
Source: [1]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 2,963
1890 7,536 154.3%
1900 7,554 0.2%
1910 10,326 36.7%
1920 13,947 35.1%
1930 18,041 29.4%
1940 19,130 6.0%
1950 22,682 18.6%
1960 25,742 13.5%
1970 32,358 25.7%
1980 33,180 2.5%
1990 39,386 18.7%
2000 42,940 9.0%
2010 48,520 13.0%

As of the census[1] of 2010, there were 48,520 people, 19,426 households, and 13,038 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,000.2 people per square mile (772.2/km2). There were 21,421 housing units at an average density of 811.5 per square mile (313.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 80.1% White, 2.1% African American, 1.0% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.17% Pacific Islander, 9.64% from other races, and 1.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.7% of the population.

There were 19,426 households out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.0% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.0% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,044, and the median income for a family was $43,197. Males had a median income of $28,925 versus $20,521 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,071. About 9.9% of families and 12.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.

State Fair[]

In 2010 Grand Island became the home of the Nebraska State Fair.[10]


Interstate 80 is located 4 miles south of the city. US Highway 281 is the main north-south route in the city, running through the city's west edge to Hastings to the south and O'Neill to the north.

Central Nebraska Regional Airport is located in Grand Island. On September 4, 2008, Allegiant Air began nonstop service from Grand Island to Las Vegas, Nevada. In June of 2011, American Eagle Airlines began providing service to Dallas/Fort Worth twice daily.

Grand Island used to have a trolley that ran just east of the Grand Island College (now the location of Grand Island Senior High). The trolley ran from Capital Ave and Lafayette down to Waugh street. It turned east on Waugh and ran to Grand Island Avenue. It then turned south on Grand Island Avenue and ran where the median is now located. The trolley line terminated at the Grand Island and 13th street intersection. The trolley line was used as a "school bus" for college students to get to the former college.


Grand Island has two hospitals; Saint Francis Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Hospital.


Grand Island is a major hub for shopping in Central Nebraska. The Conestoga Mall is a shopping mall in the city and the historic downtown area features many shops, furniture stores, antique stores and unique restaurants.

Grand Island in the news[]

A June 10, 2011 issue of Time Magazine featured Grand Island and the surrounding area. Referred to as "economic bizarro land," the article profiles the strong local economy.[11]

On December 12, 2006 the Immigration and Customs Enforcement staged a coordinated predawn raid at the Swift and Co. meat packing plant in Grand Island and at five other Swift plants in western states. They interviewed workers and took away suspected illegal immigrants.[12][13]

A February 16, 1952 issue of Look Magazine listed Grand Island as one of 26 cities that tolerated sinful behavior.[14] After this issue, Grand Island took measures to clean up its image.

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Island, Nebraska. Building designed by Edward Durell Stone.


School districts[]

  • Grand Island Public Schools
  • Grand Island Northwest Public Schools

High schools[]

Notable people[]

  • Edith Abbott, social worker
  • Grace Abbott, helped draft the Social Security Act
  • Bil Baird, puppeteer
  • Bo Evans, computer pioneer
  • Joe Feeney, tenor on the The Lawrence Welk Show
  • Henry Fonda, Academy Award–winning film actor.[15]
  • George J. Marrett, test pilot
  • Mary Martin McLaughlin, medieval history scholar.[16]
  • John Parrella, former NFL player
  • Tom Rathman, former NFL player
  • Simeon Burt Wolbach, pathologist


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Nebraska's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting". =Census 2010 News. United States Census Bureau. March 11,2011. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "The Pioneer Spirit". City of Grand Island, Nebraska. 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  6. ^ "History". City of Grand Island, Nebraska. 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  7. ^ Frisvold, Brad (2011). "The Real Night of the Twisters". Grand Island, NE: The Independent. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  8. ^ O'Neill, Colleen (2011). "The Real Night of the Twisters". Grand Island, NE: The Independent. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  10. ^ "Nebraska State Fair". Nebraska State Fair Park. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  11. ^ "Want to Make More than a Banker? Become a Farmer!". Time. July 10, 2011.,9171,2080767-1,00.html. 
  12. ^ "U.S. Raids 6 Meat Plants in ID Case", article New York Times by Julia Preston, December 13, 2006
  13. ^ FindLaw for Legal Professionals - Case Law, Federal and State Resources, Forms, and Code
  14. ^ Article. Nebraska Law Association. Retrieved 9/23/06.
  15. ^ Bain, David Haward (2004). The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West. New York City, New York: Penguin Books. pp. 60–2. ISBN 0-14-303526-6. 
  16. ^ Fox, Margalit (June 6, 2006). "Mary Martin McLaughlin, 87, a Scholar of the Middle Ages, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2011. 

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