Park Central Square as it exists today, with cars speeding around the tight corners, was not in the original plan for the revival of downtown Springfield.
Traffic was banned in the square in 1974 when plans for a pedestrian mall were developed. New plans for the square were developed in 1984, and the city reopened it to traffic in 1985.
The original $193,000 project, which allowed for two one-way lanes circling the fountain, was initially expected to be complete before October 1984 but was not completed until 1985, with a total cost of $300,000 to reopen the north and south sides of the square.
The east and west sides were reopened in 1989.
The reopening of the square to traffic came after more than a decade of plans and work on Park Central Square’s revival.
After initially being passed over for the project, architecture firm Lawrence Halprin Associates was contacted in 1968 to plan the downtown revival.
Halprin died in October 2009 at age 93 during the city’s efforts to secure separate funding for renovation and “refreshing” of the Park Central Square interior. Those efforts were put on hold following Halprin’s concern about the historic nature of the design.
The first phase of the project was completed in 1970.
Only a portion of the Halprin Associates design was used, other designs were incorporated as the revival continued. The 1974 plans to build a pedestrian mall and to ban traffic were prepared by R.W. Booker & Associates of St. Louis, as was portrayed in earlier Halprin Associates design plans.
Today, pedestrians and cars alike share Park Central Square.See the full list of pivotal points chosen by the Springfield Business Journal here.