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The Queen City of the Ozarks

As the third largest city in the state, Springfield is a vibrant and vigorous regional center of activity for commerce, recreation, live entertainment and the arts in southwest Missouri.


It’s little wonder, then, that this city of nearly 160,000 people boasts the nickname “Queen City of the Ozarks,” a characterization found as early as 1876, in a December issue of the Springfield-Patriot Advertiser.

“Springfield sits quietly, peacefully, and prosperously on the summit of the Ozarks, as a royal diadem on the brow of a queen.”

In a book titled “Seeing the Middle West,” written in 1923, author John T. Faris observed, “Springfield, standing in all of the splendor of a queen amidst its spacious orchards of stately fruit trees, has been fit- tingly designated the Queen City.”

Today, this city on historic Route 66 lives up to the name with a wealth of varied points of interest and activities for the enjoyment of our visitors from near and far. The city was established near a spring in what is now the downtown. That point of origin is marked by Founders Park, also not far from Jordan Creek, an area that has been redeveloped into Jordan Valley Park, with landscaped green space and a water feature. In addition, it is the site of Mediacom Ice Park, an indoor facility for skating year around and the home of Missouri State University hockey team play.

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Just east of the park is Hammons Field, where the Springfield Cardinals baseball team plays its Texas League opponents. It is the place where you can enjoy watching players who hope to one day be in the big league ranks. The city’s several colleges give it a youthful feel, and are also a source of sports entertainment, led by Missouri State University, Drury University and Evangel University. The JQH Arena on the Missouri State campus is not only the home of basketball action, but a place to see major music shows (Elton John, Carrie Underwood and The Eagles, among them) and other events, such as professional bull riding. Not far away is the Juanita K Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts where you can see concerts, touring Broadway shows and other acts. (Bob Dylan, the late George Carlin and Bonne Raitt have been on the stage there.)

Prominent venues in the downtown area are the historic Shrine Mosque (Dylan and Willie Nelson have performed there), and the historic Gillioz Theater (John Prine, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt have played there.) Other performing arts in the downtown area are based in the Landers Theatre. The Springfield Regional Opera House, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Springfield Ballet, also grace the city’s performing arts choices.

Speaking of downtown, it is the hub of nightlife with its many restaurants, music clubs and a movie theatre complex. You’ll find the place abuzz on week- end nights, and many nights in between. And in the daytime you can find some unique retail shops and merchandise that might pique your interest. East of the downtown is the Walnut Street Historic District, where one can see many historic homes that have been renovated, and get a bite to eat.

Uptown is the Commercial Street Historic District, where the locals advise doing the “C-Street Stroll” to “catch the vibe of this eclectic artisan, entertainment and shopping destination.” The most visible attraction is the historic Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, the longest railroad pedestrian bridge in the nation. It was built in 1902 and remodeled a few years ago. The bridge is a signature of the importance of the Frisco Railroad (now Burlington Northern Santa Fe) operations in the city’s history. Dozens of trains a day still pass underneath the footbridge.

Another historic point of interest is Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield about 10 miles southwest of the city. It is the site of the first major Civil War conflict west of the Mississippi River, and it took place Aug. 10, 1861.

Springfield is also home to the Pythian Castle, which was opened as an orphanage in 1913 by the Knights of Pythias and later owned by the government for more than 50 years. It is located at 1451 East Pythian Street.

The Queen City of the Ozarks is also near Fantastic Caverns, a comfortable place to be in winter and sum- mer and see the wondrous, water-formed stalactites and stalagmites of many hues and shapes. Fantastic Caverns, an ancient underground river, is the only ride-through cave in the country.

If you like museums, there are the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and Springfield Art Museum. Other points of interest are the Discovery Center, Dickerson Park Zoo, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and the Battlefield Mall shopping center.


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