Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, Springfield's first railroad, came
to Springfield in 1870. It actually bypassed the town and laid its
tracks a mile north of "old" Springfield into the "new" town of North
Springfield. A commercial district sprang up around the railroad depot
and the street was thus name "Commercial."
Commercial Street had a colorful reputation. Many Springfield businesses
moved to North Springfield after 1870 to do business with the railroad.
Bars, hotels and restaurants were opened to cater to rail personnel,
inhabitants and travelers. It was the place to go for good food and
music. It became a part of Springfield in 1887.
The date of the photograph in the postcard is approximately 1952.
Commercial Street is still booming as you can see by the traffic and
the many businesses, including McNier Furniture, McCurdy Paint Co.
and Wallpaper, Chastains Department Store, Evan's Cut-Rite Drugs and
Gammon Jewelry. This is near the end of the Commercial Street boom.
In the early 1960s there was a population shift toward the south.
This along with a decline in railroad travel caused north Springfield
to deteriorate. Many of the hotels began to be populated by transients,
and signs of urban blight set in.
By the early 1970s the Commercial Club, founded in 1928 as boosters
of the Commercial Street area, had fueled interest in renewal and
renovation of the historic street. It was designated a local historic
district in 1978 and was placed on the National Register of Historic
Places in 1983. Since then Commercial Street has become a center for
soup kitchens and homeless shelters, such as The Kitchen, the Missouri
Hotel and the Salvation Army. It has also become home to upscale loft
apartments, antique shops, a beautiful display of sculpture, a farmer's
market and the Frisco Days (formerly Railroad Days) festival.