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Burlington is the largest city in the U.S. state of Vermontmarker and the shire town (county seat) of Chittenden Countymarker. With a population of 38,889 at the 2000 census, the city is the core of one of the nation's smaller metropolitan areas, and is also the smallest U.S. city to be the largest city in its state. The urbanized area consists of the cities of Burlington, South Burlingtonmarker, and Winooskimarker; the towns of Colchestermarker, Essexmarker, and Willistonmarker; and the village of Essex Junctionmarker.

As of 2000, the metropolitan area contained the three northwestern Vermont counties of Chittenden, Franklinmarker, and Grand Islemarker, with an estimated 2006 population of 206,007, approximately one third of Vermont's total population.


Church Street in 1907
One of the New Hampshire grants, it was awarded by Governor Benning Wentworth on July 7, 1763 to Samuel Willis and 63 others. In the summer of 1775, land clearing began and two or three log huts were erected, but the Revolution delayed permanent settlement until 1783, when Stephen Lawrence arrived with his family. The town was organized in 1785.

The Church Street Marketplace in 2008, from almost the same position
The War of 1812 was unpopular in Vermont. Along with the rest of New Englandmarker, Vermont did not provide militia units or financial support – a serious blow to the cause. Vermont voted for the Federalist party, which opposed the war. Nevertheless, 5,000 troops were stationed here at one point during the War of 1812, outnumbering residents; ca 500 of them died of disease. Some soldiers were quartered in the main building at the University of Vermont. A memorial plaque commemorates them.
Burlington from the lake in 1858
The Van Ness House, built 1870, once the largest hotel in Burlington
In a skirmish on August 2, 1813, the British shelled Burlington. This has either been cited as a bold stroke by the British with an ineffectual response from the Americans, or a weak sally by the British, properly ignored by the Americans, depending on who related the story. The cannonade lasted for about ten minutes and did not affect the outcome of the war. The American side was commanded by Naval Lieutenant Thomas MacDonough, later hero of the Battle of Lake Champlainmarker.

The town's position on Lake Champlain helped it develop into a port of entry and center for trade, particularly after completion of the Champlain Canalmarker in 1823, the Erie Canal in 1825, and the Chambly Canal in 1843. Wharves allowed steamboats to connect freight and passengers with the Rutland & Burlington Railroad and Vermont Central Railroad. Burlington became a bustling lumbering and manufacturing center, and incorporated as a city in 1865. Its Victorian era prosperity left behind much fine architecture, including buildings by Ammi B. Young, H. H. Richardson and McKim, Mead & White. The city was a filming location for Me, Myself & Irene (2000) and What Lies Beneath (2000).

In 1870, the waterfront was extended by construction of the Pine Street Barge Canal. This became polluted over the years and is a focus for cleanup in 2009.

Current U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders was the Socialist mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 1989.

In 2007, the city was named one of the top four "places to watch" in the United States by the AARP. Ratings were based on what was perceived as ideal for older residents. Criteria included what makes a community livable: new urbanism, smart growth, mixed-use development, and easy-living standards.


As of the census of 2000, there were 38,889 people, 15,885 households, and 7,052 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,682.0 people per square mile (1,421.9/km²). There were 16,395 housing units at an average density of 1,552.3 per square mile (599.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.27% White, 1.78% Black or African American, 0.47% Native American, 2.65% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.54% from other races, and 2.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.40% of the population.

There were 15,885 households out of which 21.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.4% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 55.6% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city the population was spread out with 16.3% under the age of 18, 25.4% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.

At the 2005-2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the city's population was 94.4% White (91.1% non-Hispanic White alone), 3.5% Black or African American, 0.8% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.0% Asian, 1.0% from some other race and 1.7% from two or more races. 2.4% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.


Lake Champlain from the Burlington wharves

The city is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champlainmarker, north of Shelburne Bay. It was built on a strip of land extending about 6 mi south from the mouth of the Winooski River along the lake shore and rises from the water's edge to a height of 300 ft.


Some believe Burlington was named after Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington; others assert that the name honors the politically prominent and wealthy Burling family of New York, which, while no family members are listed as grantees of this town, held large tracts of land in other nearby towns, some of which were granted on the same day as Burlington.


Lake Champlain as a body of water is often responsible for localized snowsqualls, producing up to 13 inches in 12 hours on rare occasions.

The coldest days on record were on January 15, 1957 and February 12, 1979.


One measure of economic activity is retail sales. Burlington was fifth in the state in 2007 with $242.2 million.

Personal income

As of the census of 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $33,070, and the median income for a family was $46,012. Males had a median income of $30,144 versus $25,270 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,011. About 10.4% of families and 20.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.4% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.

There were 4,989 single-family owner-occupied homes. Their median value was $131,200.


Burlington's economy is based mostly in education and health services; trade, transportation and utilities; though the city retains some manufacturing work. The city's largest employer is Fletcher Allen Health Care and The University of Vermontmarker employing 4086 and 3137 people respectively.

Corporate headquarters located here include:Burton Snowboards, Bruegger's, Seventh Generation Inc., and Lake Champlain Chocolates. Downtown on Church Street is the Burlington Town Center mall with over 75 specialty shops and 15 national retailers such as Macy'smarker, Hollister Co., Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, Banana Republic , Gap , and Old Navy. Forbes magazine selected the city as one of the "prettiest" cities in 2009, featuring a picture of the Church Street Marketplace.

The G.S. Blodgett Company, one of the oldest and largest commercial oven companies in the country, manufactures restaurant equipment. Its history dates back to the mid 1800s.

IDX Systems, now a division of General Electric, develops software for the hospital industry and is headquartered in South Burlingtonmarker. Vermont Teddy Bear Companymarker whose founder started on a cart on a Burlington street, is now a publicly traded company that ships custom teddy bears worldwide.

Burlington is also the birthplace of the ice cream enterprise Ben & Jerry's, founded in 1978 in a renovated gas station. It is now headquartered in South Burlington.

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products division employs 450 workers locally. A solely owned subsidiary, the division is based here.


Church Street Marketplace

The Church Street Marketplace, a four-block pedestrian mall in the heart of the city, is the site of festivals throughout the year. Events such as the South End Art Hop and public galleries such as The Firehouse Gallery and Pine Street Art Works, provide a forum for the visual arts. The American Planning Association named the Marketplace one of America's "Great Public Spaces" for 2008.

Real estate

In 2008, vacancy rates for office space reached 4.5%, high for the city but low compared to the surrounding suburbs.

Social services

The HowardCenter, headquartered here, provides social services to state residents.


Burlington has a city council-mayor form of government. Democrats and the Progressive Party make up the majority of the council. Bob Kiss, the current mayor, is a Progressive who was elected in 2006. The City Council has fourteen seats, which are currently occupied by seven Democrats, three Progressives, two Republicans, and two Independents. Peter Clavelle, Burlington's longest serving mayor, held that office from 1989 to 1993, and again from 1995 to 2006.

The large transient student population votes in local, as well as state and national elections, resulting in a considerable impact on local elections. The city signed up 2,527 new voters in the six weeks from September 1, 2008. This is the highest number for that time frame in nine years or longer.

The city was ranked "average" nationally in political involvement in 2008.

As a non-profit institution, The University of Vermontmarker pays no real estate taxes, though like many other schools, it does make an annual payment in lieu of taxes. In 2007, the college agreed to raise this from $456,006 to $912,011 in 2010 plus a "public works" supplement rising from $180,040 to $191,004 over the same time frame.

The city maintains three parks on Lake Champlain. One is free, while the other two have parking fees.

The city owns the local television cable. In 2008, cable management tried to drop Al-Jazeera from the lineup. This was successfully thwarted by protesters and the station was, in 2009, one of three "small cable operators" in the nation to carry this channel.

Like many Vermont municipalities, Burlington owns its own power company, Burlington Electric Department. In 2009, the department announced that it would purchase 40% of the 40 MG Sheffieldmarker wind-generated electricity when it becomes available.

In 2009, Moody's confirmed the city's bond rating at AA3, "high" quality, the second best rank.


Burlington is the home of Fletcher Allen Health Care, a tertiary referral hospital for Vermont and northern New York State, Level I Trauma Center, and teaching hospital.

In 2006, Burlington was rated the ninth-best city to live in. The criteria were health, quality of life, and fitness. In 2007, it was rated 11th out of 100, for auto safety. The criteria were observing speed limits, accident infrequency, and seatbelt use. In 2008 it was ranked second out of 100 for "greenest driving."Criteria included gasoline consumption, and air quality. In 2009, Children's Health Magazine rated the city, out of 100, as the best in the country to raise a family. Criteria included crime and safety, education and health.

In 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Burlington is tops among U.S. metropolitan areas by having the largest proportion of people – 92 percent – who say they are in good or great health. The report went on to rate it best in exercise and lowest in obesity, diabetes, and other measures of ill health.


Public schools

The budget for 2009-10 is $49.9 million. The increase in FY 2009 was a voter approved 9.9% above the prior year. The percentage increase was above the state average. This amount was exceeded by $750,000.

In 2008, about 26% of city 3,600 students were minorities. This contrasts with the state where 96% of the population was white.

  • Burlington High School
  • Barnes Elementary
  • Edmunds Middle School
  • Hunt Middle School
  • Flynn Elementary
  • Champlain Elementary School
  • C. P. Smith Elementary
  • Wheeler Elementary


University of Vermont – Old Mill building

Champlain College

In this college town are located The University of Vermontmarker (UVM), Burlington College, and Champlain Collegemarker, as well as a Community College of Vermont campus.


The episcopal see for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington is in Burlington. There are also synagogues; (Orthodox- Chabad House, Conservative- Ohavi Zedekmarker Synagogue).

Culture and landmarks

Burlington has the largest public library in Vermont, the Carnegie Building of the Fletcher Free Library. In 2002, it had a budget of over $1 million, circulated more books, had more visitors, and had more computers, than any other library. Unlike most libraries in Vermont, it is publicly owned. The building was originally endowed by Andrew Carnegie. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Burlington waterfront along the shore of Lake Champlainmarker has bench swings and paths for walking and biking. It provides a place to view the Adirondacks. ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, housed in Vermont's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certified Green Building, is located at the waterfront and harbors over seventy species of fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles.

Dragon boat races to benefit charity have been held in Lake Champlain in August since 2006. In 2009, there were approximately 2,000 participants on 86 teams.

There has been an annual First Night community celebration of the arts on New Year's Eve since 1982. Burlington was the fourth city to embrace this concept.

Local music

The city has, over the years, supported a number of local bands as various "scenes" waxed and waned, and has even launched a handful of national acts. The most famous of these is Phish, which originated at The University of Vermontmarker circa 1983.

Other acts with ties to the city include Strangefolk, The Essex Green, RAQ, James Kochalka, The Jazz Mandolin Project, Pork Tornado, Anais Mitchell, Greg Davis, Koushik, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Dispatch, and KT Tunstall.


Newspapers and other publications

Burlington is the media center of northern and central Vermont. It is served by the


Major radio stations that are based in Burlington and serve the region:

  • WOKOmarker – 98.9 FM (Country)
  • WIZN (The Wizard) – 106.7 FM (Classic Rock)
  • WEZFmarker (Star 92.9) – 92.9 FM (Adult Contemporary)
  • WRUVmarker – 90.1 FM (University of Vermont, Variety)
  • WNCS (The Point) - 104.7 FM (Triple-A)

  • WVMTmarker - 620 AM (News/Talk)
  • WJOYmarker - 1230 AM (Adult Standards)


There are four network-affiliated television stations in the city. They include WFFFmarker channel 44 (Fox), WFFF's digital subchannelmarker 44-2 (The CW), its sister station, WVNYmarker channel 22 (ABC), WPTZmarker (NBC), and WCAXmarker channel 3 (CBS). WCAX, WFFF, and WPTZ operate news departments. WCAX is the only Burlington-based news department, while WPTZ is based in Plattsburgh, New Yorkmarker with a bureau in nearby Colchestermarker. WFFF and WVNY are also based in Colchester.

Comcast Communications is the city's major cable television service provider. Residents within the city limits are also served by municipally-owned Burlington Telecom.

These cable channels are Burlington based: VCAM-Channel 15, RETN-Channel 16, and Channel 17.


Club Sport League Stadium
Vermont Lake Monsters Baseball Minor league baseball; Class A Centennial Fieldmarker
Vermont Frost Heaves (shared with Barre) Basketball Premier Basketball League Memorial AuditoriumBarre Auditorium
University of Vermont Catamountsmarker College Ice Hockey Hockey East Gutterson Field House

The Vermont Lake Monsters, a Class A short-season (June to September) minor league baseball team, were formerly the Vermont Expos baseball club of the New York – Penn League (The team changed its name in 2007 after its parent Major League Baseball club, the Montreal Expos of the National League, moved from Montreal to Washington, D.C. and became the Washington Nationals). The Lake Monsters play on the campus of the University of Vermontmarker at Centennial Field.

The professional basketball franchise, the Vermont Frost Heaves, plays half of their season in the city. The team, which originally was part of the American Basketball Association (Not to be confused with the 1970s-era major baskeball league of the same name that merged with the National Basketball Association), moved to the Premier Basketball League in 2008 and splits their regular-season home games between Burlington and Barremarker. The Frost Heaves, owned by Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff, play their Burlington games at the Memorial Auditorium, on South Union Street, at the corner of Main.

The University of Vermont's men's hockey team, the Catamounts, draws the greatest fan interest. The Catamounts' home games at the 4,000-seat Gutterson Field House on the UVM campus often draw sellout crowds. .

There is also a rugby union team, the Burlington RFC.

Daniel W. Fish, a former member of the Air Force's Wings of Blue, was the first person to obtain a permit and skydive in the city of Burlington.

The Vermont City Marathonmarker has drawn thousands of competitors annually.

A local Golden Gloves boxing tournament has been held annually since 1946.


The city has its own electric utility.

The city has municipal fiber broadband, which provides telephone, broadband internet, and television.


Burlington is the central focus of the Chittenden County Transportation Authority, providing bus service to and from the surrounding communities (and the shopping districts of South Burlingtonmarker and Willistonmarker). Burlington is also the headquarters of the Lake Champlain Transportation Company with seasonal service provided between Burlington's King Street ferry terminal and Port Kent, New Yorkmarker.

Air carriers at Burlington International Airportmarker provide the area with commercial service to major regional hubs and international airports. Although carriers do not offer scheduled commercial flights to destinations outside the United States, there is a Customs Port of Entry for unscheduled flights.

Greyhound provides intercity bus service from a depot south of downtown to other communities in Vermont as well as to Boston'smarker South Stationmarker and Logan International Airportmarker, while Amtrak rail service stops in the nearby village of Essex Junctionmarker.

Major routes

Burlington is served by one major Interstate highway (along with its spur route into the southern part of the city), and is at the junction of two U.S. highways. Several Vermont state highways also provide routes into and through the Burlington area.

Sister cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Vermont

Burlington is twinned with:

Sites of interest

Aerial view of Burlington.
  • Ethan Allen Homestead Museum
  • Chittenden County Historical Society & Museum
  • Echo Lake Aquarium & Science Center
  • Fleming Museum, University of Vermont
  • Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
  • The 1885 building of Ohavi Zedekmarker one of the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States.

Notable residents


External links

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