In past internships, I had explored the small community of Arnold and was able to show how it had changed from year to year through these blogs. I wish I could show how much Kearney, Nebraska, has changed just in the last four years that I have lived here. As I explored Kearney in preparation for this blog, I realized just how far it had expanded. On the northeast side, a large mansion now shares its small lake with a new housing development. To the southwest, a new hospital has been built, and the UNK campus will soon be expanding to take up a few acres that had previously been farmland, connecting the new hospital section to the University. Along 2nd Avenue, a HyVee has been built, and several new structures are underway, eating up the empty field that had previously existed near Walmart and the Kearney Area Children’s Museum. All of these changes have occurred rather quickly, and it in five years, the small city will have changed drastically from what I remember as a freshman.
Kearney has a very strong commonwealth and is obviously utilizing its resources. It is a community built on farming and industry. There are quite a few manufacturing businesses on the edges of town that employ a large chunk of the surrounding population, including Baldwin Filters and Eaton. A small Monsanto is located near a future data park area, giving Kearney plenty of room to grow in both businesses. The city has an intricate web of waterways, which includes a dam on the UNK campus that slowly fills and drains the water of a large lake surrounded by mansions next to the campus.
The history of Kearney can be seen throughout its city layout. Parks are settled in the middle of housing areas, with cornfields in seemingly random areas of town. Trailer parks are next to suburb style housing, and churches are scattered throughout the city with some existing on the edges and others next to a Taco Johns and KFC. The schools are equally as spread and tend to be hard to find, just as the parks are. It is obvious which parts of town are newly built and which are old, with the oldest part called The Bricks, which exists in the middle of Kearney and boasts the original buildings and the Museum of Nebraska Art.
One park specifically is called Yanney Heritage Park, and is located on the south end of Kearney. This park is absolutely beautiful and is next to the new medical center and cornfields. Within the park, there are fountains, statues, a small lake, a tower, walking trails, a weeping willow, a bridge, and quite a few buildings. It is by far my favorite park and gives me a sense of home when I am there.
Kearney is a beautiful, yet complicated city. The streets are easy to travel once you have a grasp of their order, but specific locations tend to be hard to find. It is a city that gives you a sense of small town life. If you travel a few miles across town, you will find yourself in farm country with open skies. Kearney’s sense of place is very similar to Arnold’s, which is due to its tight-knit sense of community. It is definitely a college town, but the community is very supportive of the college that exists on its edges, making it one of the most interesting small cities I have found.