The area was originally developed in the 17th century. In 1640 there were a few buildings on the west side of Haymarket but by 1680 the street was fully developed, providing a link between Piccadilly and Charing Cross. Residential side streets, such as Oxendon, Panton, Orange (formerly James) and Norris Streets, developed at the same time.
In 1720 Haymarket was full of inns and houses of entertainment, with an Opera House at the south west end. To the west, linked to Haymarket by Norris Street, was St James’s Market, the provisions market for the prestigious residential development in the St James’s area. A large house at the north-east end of Haymarket, home to Sir William Coventry, was demolished to make way for more terraced housing in the 18th century. The Hay Market itself continued to operate until 1830 when it was closed. The area was affected by the various improvements carried out by John Nash, which resulted in the creation of Lower Regent Street, Regent Street and Carlton House. Improvements included the linking of the St James’s Square area to Hay Market via Charles II Street and Jermyn Street, the refronting of the Opera House (1819), the demolition of the St James’s Market to make way for Lower Regent Street (1818) and the laying out of a new market on a smaller site between Jermyn Street and Norris Street. By 1880, this market was dilapidated and it was demolished after World War 1. A number of large 20th century redevelopments have occurred in Haymarket, reinforcing its character as an entertainment and shopping street.