Burlington, VT, 05401
- Monday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Tuesday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Wednesday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Thursday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Friday: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
Burlington, city, seat (1787) of Chittenden county, northwestern Vermont, U.S. It lies on a hillside sloping toward Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains to the west, with the Green Mountains to the east. It is the largest city of the state and a port of entry; with South Burlington and Winooski cities and Essex Junction village, it forms a metropolitan complex.
Burlington was chartered by Gov. Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire in 1763 and named for the Burling family, who were pioneer landowners. Settlement began in 1773 with the opening of a sawmill and shipbuilding business. Burlington was a military post, and during the War of 1812 Battery Park was the site of several engagements between land batteries and British warships on the lake. It is famous for sunset views.
In the mid-20th century the city’s economy changed from one based on manufacturing to one dependent on service industries, including tourism. Manufactures include aircraft armaments, concrete products, food service equipment, snowboards, plastic monofilaments, and maple syrup.
Burlington is the seat of the University of Vermont (founded 1791), Champlain College (1878), and Trinity College of Vermont (1925). Shelburne Museum (1947), a 45-acre (18-hectare) reconstruction of early American life that includes numerous historic buildings and a side-wheel steamship, is 7 miles (11 km) south. Burlington was the home (1787–89) of Ethan Allen, the American Revolutionary War hero, and is the site of his grave. The First Unitarian Church (1816) has a bell that duplicates the tone of the church’s original bell, which was cast by the American patriot Paul Revere. Inc. 1865. Pop. (2000) city, Burlington–South Burlington Metro Area, 198,889; (2010) 42,417; Burlington–South Burlington Metro Area, 211,261.
Burlington situated on a gently sloping hillside, opposite the widest portion of Lake Champlain, has long been celebrated among New England cities for the picturesque beauty of its natural scenery, its tree-embowered streets, homelike residences, substantial public buildings and excellent educational institutions and churches; while its pleasant drives and delightful resorts, within easy distance, all combine to render it a most attractive spot to both residents and visitors.
The original town of Burlington was chartered by Gov. Benning Wentworth, June 7, 1763. Its area was thirty-six square miles and was divided into seventy-two shares of 320 acres each, 1040 acres being reserved for highways. On Oct. 27, 1794, the Legislature reduced its area about one-third by ceding to the town of Williston, all of its land east of Muddy Brook.
The Village of Burlington was surveyed and laid out by Ira Allen, who, with his brother, Ethan, was the largest owner among the original proprietors. The first Proprietors’ meeting was held at Salisbury, Conn., in March 1774. Its moderator was Col. Thomas Chittenden, Vermont’s first Governor, who subsequently filled the executive chair for eighteen years. Ira Allen was clerk of the meeting. The first census taken in 1791, gave the town a population of 332; in 1800 it was 815; and in 1860, the last census previous to the division of the town and the incorporation of the city, showed 7,713.
On Feb. 23, 1865, a portion of the Town, about one mile and a half in width, and extending along the shore of the Lake from the Winooski River, its northern boundary, to a line about six miles south, was chartered as a city. The remaining portion of the old Town became the town of South Burlington. At that time the population of the city was estimated to be 7,500. The census of 1900 gave the population as 18,640.
The proximity of this part of Vermont to Canada, and its accessibility through Lake Champlain, rendered it, during the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars, unsafe for early settlers, and it was not until 1783 that a settlement sufficient to be called a “hamlet” was made. The growth of the Town thereafter was continuous and substantial. Since 1790 it has been the County Seat. In 1791 its University was chartered, then one of the four in New England and of the twelve in the United States. In 1802 the Vermont Legislature held its annual session in the village. In 1805 the first church, Congregational, was organized. In 1808 the second steamboat in the world, the “Vermont”, built by Capt. Winans, was launched from Burlington’s small shipyard, only eight months after Fulton’s “Clermont” began to navigate the Hudson. For many years it was the commercial centre of a large territory, transporting its merchandise to Boston and New York by Stage routes, the Lake, and afterwards by the Champlain canal. In 1850 it began to have all rail connections with the ocean, the great lakes and the St. Lawrence. In 1875 but two lumber marts surpassed it in the country, and while by reason of the devastation of our eastern forests, and the development of the great West, this trade has slowly decreased, our lumber interests today are by no means small.
For convenience we will consider the points of interest in the order in which we would see them in a drive about the city; though occasionally buildings of the same class, as churches or schools, will be described together, regardless of location.
Suppose we start at Battery Park, situated on a high bluff, above the Lake shore, at the foot of Pearl Street, one of the oldest thoroughfares, leading from the Lake to College park, and originally a part of the old stage road to Fort Frederick, at Winooski, and thence northerly to St. Albans and the Canada line.
From this Park the view across the Lake, with its scattered islands, points and bays, to the blue ranges of the Adirondacks beyond, is one of surpassing beauty. No better spot can be found to watch one of the gorgeous sunsets for which Burlington is noted.
The spot is the most interesting also for its historical associations. The Park covers about nine acres and in 1812 it was the property of the United States. In the stirring days of 1813, it was the camp ground of many of the troops gathered to resist the advance of the British across our border. A parapet, still distinctly marked, on the western border, directly above the Lake shore, was then raised and fortified. Inside and midway of this a deserter, from the 2d U.S. Light Dragoons, was executed and buried in June, 1813. During the month following, about 3,000 men were quartered in temporary barracks north of the Park. They were first commanded by
Maj.-Gen. Wade Hampton, the grandfather of the General of Confederate cavalry of that name, and later by Gen. Alexander Macomb.
Peace was declared in December, 1814, and the troops were removed to one of the main college buildings which was taken by the government. Capt. Thomas MacDonough, the hero of the great naval battle off Plattsburgh, Sept. 11,1814, made Burlington his headquarters, while he was building his vessels here and at Vergennes.
On July 31, 1813, three of the British vessels appeared in the bay and commenced to bombard this Battery. The fire was returned from the guns mounted on the parapet with such vigor that the enemy, satisfied that the place was too well defended, retired.
After the return of Capt. MacDonough and his officers from the battle, he was tendered a banquet by the citizens of Burlington on Sept. 26, 1814, which was followed by a general illumination of the village and a ball given by the ladies.
In 1831 the Battery or “Camp Ground,” as it was then called, was sold to private individuals. On April 17, 1840, the land was deeded to Burlington by the owners, Heman Allen, N. B. Haswell, Frederick Smith and W. H. Wilkins, Jr., for a “public common and highway forever and for no other purpose.” It has since been cared for by the town and city. Walks, drives, trees, shrubbery, flower beds and a fountain – the gift of the neighboring residents in 1877 – have been added, and in May, 1895, by Act of Congress, four discarded cannon of those removed from the U.S. ships, Constellation, Monongahela, Saratoga, Savannah and Shamrock, were sent from the U.S. Navy yard at Annapolis and mounted on the parapet, while the stone gate posts, erected by the liberality surmounted by pyramids of cannon balls given by Congress at the same time. On May 30, 1898, the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution marked the spot by the gift of a flagstaff and flag. This was followed, in September, by the erection of a bronze tablet on a large boulder, placed near the southern entrance by Mr. Edward Wells.