The commuting public and West End partygoers know all roads lead to Haymarket. Dalry Road, an artery of the M8 motorway, converges upon Corstorphine Road and Shandwick Place from the city centre in a confounding heap of right-only turns, roundabouts, and carousels of cars locked bumper to bumper. Nine to five rhythms dictate the atmosphere and mood of the area. Mornings and early evenings see businessmen and students packed onto trams and railways bound for New Town shops and West End skyscrapers. Tracks slice in from all points of the compass, delivering long distance and commuter trains to platforms behind the tall, grey-stone Haymarket Station. Coffeeshops do a roaring business alongside food carts and tiny cafes offering breakfast on the go. Businesses squashed together on ground floors near central Haymarket Station duplicate a pattern of drycleaners, post offices, newsagents, and stuffy delis.
Finance institutions and conservative corporations in a string of glassy office blocks huddle together on the east side of Haymarket as though to better resist the West End’s bohemian vibe. New construction wipes out the old Scottish baronial tenements for urban mixed development or converts the beige four-storey blocks into new offices and flats for the hipster elite. New hotels and retail space flood a derelict railyard with architectural designs that threaten to swamp out the shambling station. In places tradition holds on in rampant redevelopment plans; a large bronze clock devoted to Heart of Midlothian football players lost in the Wars occupies the crossroads, much like its sisters in Tollcross and Morningside.