Commercial Street’s origins dovetail with the coming of the railroad to Springfield in 1870 when the first engine, The Cuba, steamed in on fresh-laid tracks nearby. The newly constructed passenger depot at Benton and the Freight depot at Boonville welcomed thousands of pioneers heading west or settling in the bustling new Boomtown of North Springfield with Commercial Street as its main street. The stoves, dry goods, tools, farm supplies, building materials and the hospitality and entertainment industries followed by the trainload.
By 1900, there were 13 sets of tracks and the City and Railroad partnered to build the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge for safe pedestrian foot traffic and the underpasses at Lyon and Washington for vehicular traffic to safely cross under them. The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge was completed in 1902 and has served the multitude of railroad workers and their families since that date as well as train watchers and sightseers from all over the world in more recent times. While it is currently closed, a complete restoration is slated to begin this year to restore Springfield’s Eiffel Tower to its original glory, adding the modern need for handicapped access at both ends.
The bustling railroad boomtown, lovingly called C-Street, is enjoying a renaissance driven by local pioneers who dared to dream of a 21st century revival, a dream driven by entrepreneurs with a vision of a family-oriented, beautiful, walkable neighborhood, a sweet street on a mission to capture the hearts of visitors both homegrown and from far away exotic places.
They probably don’t mind the food either.