The Historic Haymarket
by Sriyani Tidball
The Haymarket District is a historic section of downtown Lincoln that has become one of the main tourist attractions for both visitors and locals. The area is home to the Haymarket Park baseball stadium, where the Saltdogs and University of Nebraska-Lincoln play ball.
It’s also the home of the Farmers Market, and a host of great restaurants, coffee houses and art galleries that host First Friday Gallery walks, plus housing and retail shops. It is well known for its state-of-the-art Pinnacle Bank Arena, which seats more than 15,000 people, brings in popular performers and hosts UNL basketball.
In 1867, an area called Market Square was designated between O and P streets from Ninth to 10th as an open-air square market place for hay, produce and livestock, as well as a camping ground for immigrants and a general gathering place for visitors and travelers. At that time, it was the place for wagons and animals, along with pioneer opportunists in search of new places for business and land. In 1874, the federal government was persuaded to erect a post office and courthouse and the area expanded a few more blocks and was chosen in 1886 for the first City Hall.
At that time, the area became the hub of activity in Lincoln. Scales were provided for weighing hay, cattle and produce, plus space for the teams and wagons of country folk and a market for hay.
The Haymarket name survived and in 1982, more than a century later, the city adopted a redevelopment plan for the area, designating the eight-block Haymarket Landmark District and giving it recognition and protection as an important element of Lincoln’s heritage. The National Park Service later certified the Haymarket as the equivalent of a district listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with the protection and privileges of that status.
In the decades that followed, the Haymarket has been transformed from a largely vacant, crumbling area into a vibrant part of downtown Lincoln. It is a wonderful place to live and work and play.
The Haymarket’s success was recognized by the American Planning Association in 2009 with its “Great American Neighborhood” designation. Today the Haymarket is considered the “happening place” in the city, as you will never run out of things to do.