Springfield was founded as a station of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in 1847. The station was named for Springfield, the estate of Henry Daingerfield on whose land it had been built. Daingerfield was an Alexandria businessman and sat on the board of directors of the railroad.
In 1877, Richard Moore petitioned for a post office, which he named Moor, located about a little over a mile south of the station. The post office name was changed in 1881 to Garfield to honor the late President James A. Garfield, who had been assassinated that year. In 1907, the Garfield post office closed and a new postal station named Corbett (for the current landowner) opened back near the railroad station. Finally the name returned to Springfield on June 27, 1910, and has remained since that time.
Springfield remained a rural crossroads until Edward Carr decided to subdivide the area for suburban development in 1946 along the recently opened Henry Shirley Highway (now I-95/I-395). Carr, a realtor, believed this to be the last easily accessible tract within 12 miles of Washington, D.C. Ready access to Washington, via the Shirley Highway, spurred tremendous growth in the area in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1950, the area had an estimated population of 1,000. By 1960 the population was reported as over 10,000 and grew to more than 25,000 by 1970. It currently stands at around 30,000.
The opening of the Springfield Mall in 1973–1975 (the second regional shopping center built in Northern Virginia after Tysons Corner) made Springfield a major retail destination. The mall has suffered in recent years, and plans are to revamp the mall from an indoor facility into a town center with a mixture of shopping, office, and residential development. One piece of ignominy associated with the mall is that the DMV office located inside was where Hani Hanjour and Khalid al-Mihdhar, two of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks, illegally obtained state identification.
Central Springfield is dominated by the over half-billion dollar Springfield Interchange highway project, which was completed in 2007. Due to its complexity, the interchange is popularly known as the “Mixing Bowl.” It includes three Interstates (I-95, I-395, and I-495), with two exits less than a half mile apart, with two roads (Commerce Street and Route 644 (Old Keene Mill Road / Franconia Road) going over or under I-95 within less than a half mile, and is further complicated by the presence of a separate, reversible high-occupancy vehicle lane passing through the center of two of the Interstates. The eight-year, $676 million Springfield Interchange Improvement Project was finished on time and on budget, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
I’d like to acknowledge Wikipedia as the source for much of the information in this blog post.