The Haymarket: Lincoln, Nebraska


Haymarket owes its vitality as much to the variety of uses that permeate this former warehouse district as to the careful restoration of individual buildings. Haymarket draws on its railroading and wholesaling heritage to attract visitors from throughout the community and across the state. Haymarket also is home to several hundred residents, with housing ranging from luxury lofts to subsidized rental units. Residents and visitors appreciate the area's numerous amenities including public art and a weekly farmers market.

Designated Area

Haymarket consists of 10 blocks, bounded by "S" Street on the north, "N" Street on the south, Ninth Street on the east, and Lincoln Station (formerly the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad Depot) on the west. Six blocks at the core of the area are formally designated as Haymarket Landmark District.

Planning Excellence

Compact and easily covered on foot, the neighborhood is dominated by pedestrian traffic, but also is driver-friendly. With strong indoor and outdoor spaces, Haymarket is busy all four seasons. It is adjacent to two major centers of activity — the University of Nebraska campus and the traditional downtown, also a thriving part of the city. With some two dozen restaurants plus taverns, two live theater venues, shops, galleries, and offices, the neighborhood is a lively place 24/7.

The Haymarket Farmers Market brings 7th Street alive, drawing people not only from downtown Lincoln but other neighborhoods as well as towns in Nebraska. Photo courtesy Lincoln Planning Department.

Mixed Uses

  • Developed between 1880 and 1920 as a wholesale and manufacturing district, Haymarket today accommodates residential, recreational, cultural, and entertainment-oriented uses. The 1983 Haymarket Redevelopment Plan encourages rehabilitation and adaptive reuse.
  • Choices of eating and drinking establishments are plentiful and include a longtime locally owned coffee shop that roasts its own beans and Nebraska's first brewpub. Several restaurants occupy ground floors of converted warehouses and offer dining al fresco on former loading docks.
  • About 125 dwelling units enliven the neighborhood. They include luxury lofts and townhouses as well as market-rate and subsidized apartments. Two warehouses have been renovated into large apartment buildings that include units designed for mobility-impaired residents.
  • Retail and antique shops and art galleries occupy storefronts and the occasional upper floor. Offices are housed in converted warehouses. The quaint Iron Horse Park at the train station features a brick mural by Jay Tschetter of Lincoln, a nationally known brick artist, and is a favorite gathering spot.

Historic Preservation

  • Maintaining and enhancing historic character central to Haymarket's redevelopment; adopted principles focus on design, organization, promotion, and economic restructuring. This approach has led to a quarter-century of steady, incremental progress wherein no single project could make or break the neighborhood
  • Designated Lincoln's first commercial historic district in 1982, two years after adoption of the city's preservation ordinance. A landowner's lawsuit kept Haymarket off the National Register of Historic Places; in response, city followed the uncommon but equivalent route of federally certifying the local designation by making a six-block section of the neighborhood eligible for federal funds and tax credits for historic rehabilitation
  • District's architectural gem is the handsome and deftly restored Lincoln Station, a 1927 neoclassical structure that anchors a fine ensemble of late 19th and early 20th century warehouses and industrial buildings
  • Connections with past abound. Most buildings feature bronze plaques that provide historical context; ties to the city's past strengthened by public art, such as 50-foot brick mural on the north wall of the Lincoln Station that shows an old locomotive pulling the first train into Lincoln in 1870 or the reinstallation of a fountain in Iron Horse Park that once used to provide drinking water for horses, dogs, and people via separate spouts

The view from this plaza illustrates the character of the Haymarket's past as a former manufacturing district. Today, some two dozen restaurants, taverns, shops, galleries, and offices draw people to the neighborhood to live, work, and play. Photo courtesy Lincoln Planning Department.

Commitment to Planning

  • The 1983 Haymarket Redevelopment Plan continues to guide public and private efforts that contribute to the district's unique sense of place
  • Multiple funding sources used to revitalize Haymarket, including U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds, federal Community Development Block and Urban Development Action grants, industrial bonds, historic rehabilitation tax credits, tax increment financing, and private grants, either separately or as part of a package
  • Sign criteria for Haymarket revised in 1990 to allow neon and other types of signs that are otherwise controlled or prohibited in other parts of the city
  • Enhancements and improvements made to Eighth Street corridor; also rebuilt overpass at southern edge of district
  • Businesses and residents involved with planning and redevelopment efforts for an adjacent brownfield; called West Haymarket, the development will feature an arena, hotels, shops, and residences designed to complement Haymarket's strengths and character

Public Amenities

  • Iron Horse Park, built on a former gravel parking lot, features a brick mural, a restored 1900 steam locomotive, a replica 1890s water tower and reflecting pool, and a railroad-themed children's play area.
  • Public art includes the life-sized bronze "Watchful Citizen" at Lincoln Station and other sculptures. Mosaics abound on walls and even on the floor of the entrance porch to the Burkholder Project artists' colony.
  • The popular Saturday Farmers Market draws 150 vendors and as many as 10,000 shoppers to the district each week. Haymarket's "outdoor living room" — the brick-paved Seventh Street — comes alive with music, art, food, flowers, and fun.

Sustainable Neighborhood

  • Adapting existing buildings instead of demolishing them makes Haymarket one of Lincoln's greenest neighborhoods. Increasing housing density, a mix of uses, and proximity to the University of Nebraska and downtown combine to create a live-work-play environment that gives residents an option of meeting basic needs without automobile trips
  • The historic Lincoln Station is home to an Amtrak station and is just two blocks from Lincoln's downtown transit hub. The neighborhood maintains a "comfortable congestion" that allows vehicular access but favors pedestrians. Eighth Street serves as major north-south bicycle corridor

Public art such as this train mural is a reminder of the Haymarket's close ties to the railroad yard located adjacent to the neighborhood. Photo courtesy Lincoln Planning Department.