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Springfield, Missouri

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Springfield in Missouri.

 

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Springfield is the third largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is the county seat of Greene County. According to the 2010 census data, the population was 159,498, an increase of 5.2% since the 2000 census. The Springfield Metropolitan Area, population 436,712, includes the counties of Christian, Dallas, Greene, Polk and Webster. Springfield's nickname is The Queen City of the Ozarks. It is also known as The Cultural Center of the Ozarks, The Gateway to the Ozarks, and The Birthplace of Route 66.

Culture

Like many cities across the nation, Springfield has seen a major resurgence in its downtown area. Many of the older buildings have been, and are continuing to be, renovated into mixed-use buildings such as lofts, office space, restaurants, bars, boutiques, and music venues. Located within the Downtown Springfield CID (Community Improvement District) are historic theaters that have been restored to their original state, including the Gillioz Theatre and the Landers Theatre.

In 2001, Phase I of Jordan Valley Park opened along with the Mediacom Ice Park. Phase II of Jordan Valley Park will be complete in late 2011 or early 2012. 2001 also saw the opening of The Creamery Arts Center, a city-owned building inside Jordan Valley Park. It is home to the Springfield Regional Arts Council, Springfield Regional Opera, Springfield Ballet, and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and provides office and meeting space for other arts organizations which serve the community. The center has been recently renovated to include two art galleries with monthly exhibitions, an Arts Library, rehearsal studios, and classrooms offering art workshops and hands-on activities. The facilities also include a outdoor classroom.

A March 2009 New York Times article described the history and ascendancy of cashew chicken in Springfield, where local variations of the popular Chinese dish are ubiquitous.

There are several arts events that occur annually including the Springfield Art Fest and the Missouri Literary Festival. Also the First Friday Art Walk occurs the first Friday of every month.

Birthplace of Route 66

Recognized by convention as the birthplace of US Route 66, it was in Springfield on April 30, 1926 that officials first proposed the name of the new Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway.

John T. Woodruff of Springfield was elected as the first president of the U.S. Highway 66 Association, organized in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1927. Its purpose was to get U.S. Highway 66 paved from end to end and to promote tourism on the highway. In 1938, Route 66 became the first completely paved transcontinental highway in America — the “Mother Road” — stretching from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Coast.

A placard in Park Central Square was dedicated to the city by the Route 66 Association of Missouri, and traces of the Mother Road are still visible in downtown Springfield along Kearney Street, Glenstone Avenue, College and St. Louis streets and on Missouri 266 to Halltown. The red booths and gleaming chrome in mom-and-pop diners, the stone cottages of tourist courts and the many service stations along this route saw America fall in love with the automobile. Red's Giant Hamburg, said to be the birthplace of the drive-up order window, was located on the route.
"Crossroads of country music"

During the 1950s, Springfield ranked third in the U.S. for originating network television programs behind New York and Hollywood. Four nationally-broadcast television series originated from the city between 1955 and 1961: Ozark Jubilee and its spin-off, Five Star Jubilee; Talent Varieties; and The Eddy Arnold Show. All were carried live by ABC except for Five Star Jubilee on NBC; and were produced by Springfield's Crossroads TV Productions owned by Ralph D. Foster. Many of the biggest names in country music frequently visited or lived in Springfield at the time. City officials estimated the programs meant about 2,000 weekly visitors and "over $1,000,000 in fresh income."

Staged at the Jewell Theatre (demolished in 1961), Ozark Jubilee was the first national country music TV show to feature top stars and attract a significant viewership. Five Star Jubilee, produced from the Landers Theatre, was the first network color television series to originate outside of New York City or Hollywood. Ironically, Springfield's NBC affiliate, KYTV-TV (which helped produce the program), was not equipped to broadcast in color and aired the show in black-and-white.

The Springfield Chamber of Commerce once presented visiting dignitaries with an "Ozark Hillbilly Medallion" and a certificate proclaiming the honoree a "hillbilly of the Ozarks." On June 7, 1953, U.S. President Harry Truman received the medallion after a breakfast speech at the Shrine Mosque for a reunion of the 35th Division. Other recipients included US Army generals Omar Bradley and Matthew Ridgway, US Rep. Dewey Short, J. C. Penney, Johnny Olson, Ralph Story and disc jockey Nelson King.

Museums and other points of interest

Air & Military Museum of the Ozarks
Battle of Springfield Driving Tour
American Civil War Library at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Dickerson Park Zoo
Dr. Michael J. Clarke History Museum of Ozarks Scouting
Commercial Street Historic District
Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
Founders Park
Gray-Campbell Farmstead

History Museum for Springfield-Greene County
Missouri Institute of Natural Science - Riverbluff Cave
Springfield Art Museum
The Creamery Arts Center
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
US Route 66 marker
Wild Bill Hickok–Davis Tutt shootout site
Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium - Closed for construction

National Register of Historic Places

Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque
Christ Episcopal Church
Gillioz Theater
Jefferson Avenue Footbridge
Landers Theatre
Springfield National Cemetery
Stone Chapel
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Walnut Street Historic District

Springfield Register of Historic Sites

St. John's Episcopal Church

Recreation

There are 92 parks including the Botanical Center at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, three golf courses, a zoo and other facilities owned or managed by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. Its programs, such as Hearts ‘n Parks, encourage people to enjoy a more active lifestyle. The department incorporates a network of linear parks and trails that run near and around geologically unique areas of the Ozarks, such as creek beds and springs. The facilities have been host to state, local and national tournaments in softball, soccer, hockey and tennis. Six recreational lakes are within 100 miles (160 km) of Springfield. Table Rock Lake and the Branson entertainment area are within 45 miles (72 km).

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