MacArthur Boulevard began as West Grand Avenue, one of four Grand Avenues located approximately 12 blocks from the center of Springfield. West Grand was, at the time, the western boundary of the city. Until the late 1890s, the area south of South Grand was largely farmland, including the Leland Farm which was established around 1865 and extended from Ash St on the north to Wabash Ave on the south and from West Grand on the east to Old Chatham Road on the west.
In 1906, Logan Hay build a home “out in the country” at 1220 South Grand Avenue, with the grounds extending from the current Douglas Street to Lincoln and south to Laurel. South Grand was a dirt road with streetcar tracks down the middle as far as the entrance to Washington Park. Also in 1906, Illini Country Club was created, bounded by South Grand, West Grand, Cherry Road and Chatham Road. The streetcar route was extended 1.5 miles to the club. Streetcars ran in Springfield from 1866 to 1938, when the trolley tracks were torn out.
On March 23, 1908 Springfield changed the name of West Grand Ave to West Grand Boulevard. By the 1930s, many businesses were located near the South Grand and MacArthur intersection including a “serve yourself” supermarket, a hardware store, a service station, several beauty parlors and eateries, a flower company and a women’s apparel shop.
On March 16, 1942, West Grand Boulevard became MacArthur Boulevard to honor General Douglas MacArthur. Business continued to expand south on MacArthur, and in 1960 the Town & Country Shopping Center became the first suburban shopping mall in the region.
Businesses continue to find the South Grand and MacArthur area attractive due to high traffic volume and the support and patronage of residents and commuters. A diverse group of long-term and new business owners and area neighbors are determined to maintain the character and viability of the neighborhoods and the business district. In early 2007, they created the MacArthur Boulevard Business Association.