The town of North Springfield (Commercial Street Historical District) dates its existence from the completion of the Atlantic and Pacific railroad to the present site of the town, but for the stinginess and selfishness of some of the moneyed men of old Springfield, the busy town of North Springfield, with all of its importance, would never have existed.
In the early spring of 1870 a town was laid out adjoining the city of Springfield on the north, and North Springfield sprang into existence as if by magic. The first building erected was the small frame building erected by the company, and used for some time as a real estate office, at the corner of Jefferson and Commercial streets.
The next was the residence and store of J. J. Barnard, who opened the first stock of groceries and provisions. Next came Mr. Payton's residence and Dr. Hansford's drug store. Mr. Barnard's was the first family that came to town, but was soon followed by Mr. Payton's, Dr. Hansford's, Mr. Mumfort's, and other families too numerous to mention. (The History of Greene County, 1883 – R.I. Holcombe, Historian)
The 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 named "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. Commercial Street led the business and population boom in Springfield becoming the hub of industry and entertainment until the 1960's. With the decline in rail travel, population and business growth spread mostly to the southern part of Springfield.
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. While Commercial Street had become a location for homeless services in the 80's and 90's, recent years has seen many of these services move away from Commercial Street favoring locations closer to Springfield's downtown area.
Today, Commercial Street is booming area with lofts, a variety of businesses, restaurants, and special events. It is a thriving community of artists, professionals, craftsmen, teachers and students.