The Historic Haymarket

by Sriyani Tidball

Situated at Lincoln’s historic ground zero, the Haymarket area is home to more than 40 restaurants and bars, many coffee houses, art galleries, hotels, and at the north end, the wonderful Pinnacle Bank Arena, a state-of-the-art facility seating over 15,000 people and bringing in world-class performers and UNL’s basketball activities to the city. The Haymarket is also home to the Haymarket Park baseball stadium where the Lincoln Salt Dogs, our own professional baseball team, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s baseball team play their home games.

Originally, an actual hay market, with people coming from all over to trade hay, Lincoln’s Haymarket district today is one of the main tourist attractions for both visitors and locals alike as it offers plenty of opportunities for good times and fun. 

The ‘Haymarket’ name can be traced to Lincoln’s first decade. When Lincoln was designed as the capital city of the new State of Nebraska in 1867. The area made up of blocks bounded by 9th, 10th, O and P streets was called Market Square. It was the place for farmers to sell their goods to the townspeople. That square was also an open-air market for produce and livestock, as well as a camping ground for immigrants, visitors, animals, land sharks, and gamblers.

Today the Haymarket is a happening place, and the original Market Square has expanded in size. The Lincoln City Council designated the eight-block Haymarket Landmark District in 1982, giving it recognition and protection as a major element of Lincoln’s heritage. 

Here are some highlights.

The Farmers Market

Open each Saturday morning from early May through early October, the market’s vendors display local produce, flowers, meats, cheeses, and plenty of prepared food. Artists and artisans also display and sell their work. Local entertainers provide live music at Iron Horse Park, just north of the original train station. 

The Railyard and The Cube

The Railyard serves as a gathering place for everyone, and it is surrounded by restaurants and bars. The Cube, a 750-square foot screen, offers concerts and movies and a place to join your friends to watch a televised sporting event and have a cold beer. Every winter, the Railyard becomes an ice rink big enough to accommodate up to 150 skaters. This place is always hopping, especially during the weekends. 

Bars and pubs

The Haymarket has many bars and pubs, and many stay open late. There are Irish pubs, sports themes bars, small intimate bars, and down-home bars. The Haymarket has many places where you can get a drink and some places also serve food. From Nebraska is a shop that not only sells local wines but also offers wine tasting. 

Food and Coffee

The Haymarket is a place where you can get every kind of food from authentic Indian cuisine to Japanese, to Italian, along with steaks, sandwiches, pizzas…you name it, and you can find it. The restaurants range from upscale to super casual, and outdoor seating where diners can enjoy the surroundings of the historic Haymarket.

Once again coffee lovers can have their choice of so many coffee houses. The Mill is the oldest coffee house in the Haymarket, but several others have come up. If you are looking for dessert Ivana Cone, offers the best home-made ice cream, or you can get frozen yogurt at several shops. There are plenty of places to pick up your favorite candies, including a shop that sells mainly licorice. 

The Haymarket has several art galleries, shops, hotels, apartments, a grocery store, condos, and lots of great streets and colorful alleys to enjoy. It is truly a nice location to spend a few hours. The biggest problem is there are so many options that it is hard to decide just which event or shop or gallery or restaurant to sample.  

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