Thanks Lake, the picture marvelously illustrates the change. And Jeh, Its not that the planners of the time had the intention of destroying the retail, in fact it was the opposite.
But that was the outcome.
Downtown was faced with competition from Malls which offered free parking, security, great service, and new stores.
The intent was to create a 'plaza' equipped with 'modern' conveniences like elevated, moving sidewalks. But it took WAY too long to dig up the roads and repave them with bricks.
I was just discovering downtown as a teenager when it happened. None of the stores had easy access in hemming park, and you couldn't park for blocks because the streets were all torn up. It lasted 18 months and by the time it was done, the stores were closed.
When people had to park 5 blocks away from the stores, there was no way at all to get back to their cars before they were issued a ticket. The meter maids picked off what was left of the suburban customers and drove them permanently out of downtown.
Springfield was completely shut off by the road redirection (on purpose) to cut down on 'crime'.
The reasons which supported this tedious replatting and redirection are gone now.
We need to fix it, and examine the underlying reasons why regional malls were able to compete so devastatingly (free parking, security) and reconnect downtown with its residential component (springfield and durkeeville)