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Haymarket

In this Et Cetera, we look back at Louisville’s historic and colorful Haymarket, which closed nearly half-a-century ago.

The Haymarket occupied the block between Jefferson, Liberty, Floyd and Brook Streets, downtown - the former site of Louisville’s first railroad station.

It’s believed that the market functioned informally for some time until it was officially established as a privately-owned entity in 1891.

Contrary to the name, little hay was sold at the Haymarket. It was instead the place to pickup fresh produce and other food-related items at bargain prices. It was also a popular spot to buy Christmas trees throughout the years.

During the 1920s shelters were built to protect sellers and buyers from the elements, but nothing could protect the Haymarket from the effects of progress.

By the late 1940s the Haymarket became outdated. The rise of chain groceries cut profits, and many of the wholesalers opted to relocate.

The Haymarket ended in 1962, after 71 years in operation. The final blow came when an exit to Interstate 65 cut through the establishment.

However, some smaller vendors continued to operate for several decades in the area as Produce Plaza - which was informally dubbed the Haymarket.

In 2007 it was announced that the original Haymarket site would be redeveloped by Metro Government, in conjunction with the University of Louisville.

According to the Courier-Journal, these plans may include a museum honoring the Haymarket.

Etc.:

  • According to "The Encyclopedia of Louisville", Gardeners and Farmers Market Company, formed by a group of local growers, established and operated the Haymarket. This privately-held company enabled the farmers to purchase the space as a permanent market in 1891 The area’s last municipal market house had been closed in 1888. It had been one of at least seven market houses that had operated along Market St. between Clay and Seventeenth Streets. This closing may have been the catalyst for the creation of the Haymarket.
  • The city’s decision to allow selling along the sidewalks (1894) led to an expanded public market area (1898), from Third east to Jackson Street and from Market south to Liberty. Shoppers who bought from these sidewalk vendors became known as “curb buyers”.
  • With the decline of the Haymarket, wholesalers made plans for a larger, suburban, rail-connected produce center, starting in 1953. The Louisville Produce Terminal (also a private corporation) opened in 1962, on thirty –two acres on Jennings Lane. It still operates today.

Images seen in this Et Cetera segment appear courtesy of The University of Louisville University Archives and Photographic Archives (ULPA) and KET's "Louisville: A City at the Falls", which was produced by Al Shands.

Program 423
"Louisville Life" goes green with Dan Jones, founder of 21st Century Parks; a business owner who sells eco-friendly products; the author of a local hiking guide and more. (#423)