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Change chugged in with the auto

The development of the gasoline engine contributed to the continuing changes in the lifestyles of the community. It's reported the first privately owned automobile arrived in Springfield in 1905 when the population was approximately 24,000. In 1980 there were approximately 70,000 vehicles registered in the city.

As the automobile rapidly replaced the horse, for private travel and for commerce, there was a need for more and better roadways and road construction began which has never seemed to cease. By 1923, there were 148 miles of street in the city, 60 of which were paved. In 1980 there were 711 miles, practically all of which were paved.

Thanks to the good roads, among them popular and heavily-traveled U.S. Route 66 (now Interstate 44), and its geographical location in the center of the country, the city soon became a transportation hub. This aided both its population and economic growth. Its location was one of the reasons it has become a regional distribution center for business and industry in this part of the country.

The use of private automobiles soon changed the character of life in the community as this 1916 view of the square shows.
An early automobile showroom Headrick and Sons.
Autos prompted many peripheral jobs in the community; road construction, like that on Sunshine Road at left, and development of many services. The service station is at 310 East Walnut.
It wasn't long until massive parking lots and multi-lane roads became necessities and traffic tieups became a way of life.
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