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Burlington, Vermont
City of Burlington
From top to bottom, going left to right: Burlington skyline viewed from Lake Champlain, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Church Street Marketplace, Ethan Allen Homestead Museum and Historic Site, Old Mill building on the University of Vermont campus, Battery Park, Gutterson Fieldhouse, and Burlington at night viewed from Oakledge Park.
From top to bottom, going left to right: Burlington skyline viewed from Lake Champlain, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Church Street Marketplace, Ethan Allen Homestead Museum and Historic Site, Old Mill building on the University of Vermont campus, Battery Park, Gutterson Fieldhouse, and Burlington at night viewed from Oakledge Park.
Official seal of Burlington, Vermont
Nickname(s): BTV, the Queen City
Location in Chittenden County and the U.S. state of Vermont.
Location in Chittenden County and the U.S. state of Vermont.
Country United States
State Vermont
County Chittenden
Settled 1783
Organized (town) 1785
Incorporated (city) 1865
 • City 15.5 sq mi (40.1 km2)
 • Land 10.3 sq mi (26.7 km2)
 • Water 5.2 sq mi (13.4 km2)
Elevation 200 ft (61 m)
Population (2010)
 • City 42,417
 • Estimate (2015) 42,452
 • Rank U.S.: 870th
 • Density 4,121.5/sq mi (1,581.3/km2)
 • Urban 108,740 (U.S.: 285th)
 • Urban density 1,760.8/sq mi (679.8/km2)
 • Metro 214,796 (U.S.: 203rd)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 05401–05402, 05405–05406, 05408
Area code(s) 802
FIPS code 50-10675
GNIS feature ID 1456663

Burlington is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Vermont and the seat of Chittenden County. It is located 45 miles (72 km) south of the Canada–United States border and 94 miles (151 km) south of Montreal. Its population was 42,452 according to a 2015 U.S. census estimate. Burlington is the least populous city in the U.S. to be the most populous within a state.

A regional college town, the municipality is home to the University of Vermont (UVM) and Champlain College, a small private college. Vermont's largest hospital, the UVM Medical Center, is located within the city limits. In 2015, Burlington became the first city in the U.S. to run completely on renewable energy.


Two theories have been put forward regarding the origin of Burlington's name. The first is that it was named after Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, and the second is that the name honors the politically prominent and wealthy Burling family of New York. While no Burling family members are listed as grantees of the town, the family held large tracts of land in nearby towns, some of which were granted on the same day as Burlington.


Church Street, Burlington, VT
Church Street in 1907
The Van Ness House, Burlington, VT
The Van Ness House hotel, built in 1870, burned down in 1951
See also: Timeline of Burlington, Vermont

One of the New Hampshire grants, the land that was developed as Burlington was awarded by New Hampshire colonial governor Benning Wentworth on June 7, 1763 to Samuel Willis and 63 others. In the summer of 1775, settlers began clearing land and built two or three log huts, but the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War delayed permanent settlement until after its conclusion. In 1783, Stephen Lawrence arrived with his family. The town was organized in 1785.

The War of 1812 was unpopular in Vermont and New England, which had numerous trading ties with Canada. Neither Vermont nor other New England states provided militia units or financial support. Vermont voters supported the Federalist Party, which opposed the war. At one point during the war, the U.S. had 5,000 troops stationed in Burlington, outnumbering residents and putting a strain on resources. About 500 soldiers died of disease, which was always a problem due to poor sanitation in army camps. Some soldiers were quartered in the main building at the University of Vermont, where a memorial plaque commemorates them.

In a skirmish on August 2, 1813, the British shelled Burlington. Depending on who relates the account, this is described either 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. The cannonade lasted for about 10 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 Champlain.

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 Canal 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 was 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.

In 1870, the waterfront was extended by construction of the Pine Street Barge Canal. This became polluted over the years and was a focus for cleanup in 2009 under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program.

Late 20th century to present

In 1978, the ice cream enterprise Ben & Jerry's was founded in Burlington in a renovated gas station. It became a national brand, with retail outlets in numerous cities.

In 2007, the city was named one of the top four "places to watch" in the United States by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The ratings were based on what was perceived as ideal qualities for older residents. Criteria included the factors that make a community livable: new urbanism, smart growth, mixed-use development, and easy-living standards.

Forbes magazine ranked the city in 2010 as one of the "prettiest" towns in America, featuring a picture of the Church Street Marketplace on its cover.

Geography and climate

110 1011
Lake Champlain from the Burlington wharves, New York's Adirondack Mountains in the background
Weather chart for Burlington
temperatures in °F
precipitation totals in inches
source: NOAA

Burlington is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, north of Shelburne Bay. It was built on a strip of land extending about 6 miles (9.7 km) south from the mouth of the Winooski River along the lake shore, and rises from the water's edge to a height of 300 feet (91 m).

A large ravine in what is now downtown was filled in with refuse and raw sewage in the 19th century to make way for further development.


Burlington has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), with cold winters and very warm, humid summers. The monthly daily average temperatures ranges from 18.7 °F (−7.4 °C) in January to 70.6 °F (21.4 °C) in July. The annual precipitation of 36.8 inches (935 mm) is well-distributed throughout the year, but the summer months are the wettest. The city's location east of Lake Champlain sometimes accounts for localized snow squalls, producing up to 13 inches (33 cm) in 12 hours on rare occasions. Annual snowfall averages 81.2 inches (206 cm), but this figure can fluctuate greatly from one year to another. Extremes have ranged from −30 °F (−34 °C) on January 15, 1957 and February 12, 1979 to 101 °F (38 °C) on August 11, 1944. The most snowfall from a single storm is 33.1 inches (84.1 cm), which fell January 2–3, 2010.

For the Northeast United States, a heat wave is defined as having three consecutive days of 90 °F (32 °C) or more. There were six such heat waves from 2000–2009.

Climate data for Burlington International Airport, Vermont (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1883–present )
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Average high °F (°C) 27.2
Daily mean °F (°C) 18.7
Average low °F (°C) 10.2
Record low °F (°C) −30
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.06
Snowfall inches (cm) 21.1
trace 0
trace 0.3
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 14.5 11.2 12.9 12.8 14.2 13.3 12.0 12.3 11.3 12.9 14.0 14.4 155.8
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 14.5 10.7 9.0 3.1 0.1 0 0 0 0 0.4 4.7 11.9 54.4
Sunshine hours 126.9 146.8 190.7 206.2 251.4 270.1 301.9 258.2 201.0 159.2 91.1 91.6 2,295.1
Source: NOAA (sun 1961–1990)
Burlington seen from Lake Champlain
Burlington, as seen from Lake Champlain in 2010


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 330
1800 816 147.3%
1810 1,690 107.1%
1820 2,111 24.9%
1830 3,526 67.0%
1840 4,271 21.1%
1850 7,585 77.6%
1860 7,713 1.7%
1870 13,596 76.3%
1880 11,365 −16.4%
1890 14,590 28.4%
1900 18,640 27.8%
1910 20,468 9.8%
1920 22,779 11.3%
1930 24,789 8.8%
1940 27,686 11.7%
1950 33,155 19.8%
1960 35,531 7.2%
1970 38,633 8.7%
1980 37,712 −2.4%
1990 39,127 3.8%
2000 38,889 −0.6%
2010 42,417 9.1%
Est. 2015 42,452 0.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, 42,417 people were residing in the city. Over a total of 16,851 households, the average number of persons per household was 2.13.

The median household income for the city was $42,677, and the per capita income was $25,441.

Ethnicity and race as of the 2010 Census:

Group Percent Notes
White 88.9% 87.3% were counted as white not of Hispanic and/or Latino origin
African American and/or black 3.8%
Asian 3.6%
Hispanic and/or Latino 2.8% 0.2% Cuban, 0.5% Mexican, and 0.6% Puerto Rican
Two or more races 2.6%
Other races 0.49%
Native American 0.3%
Pacific Islander 0.11%



Burlington is the central focus of Green Mountain Transit (GMT), which provides bus service to and from surrounding municipalities.

On June 15, 2011, the Chittenden County Transportation Authority announced that it had changed its charter, effective July 1, 2011, to allow municipalities outside Chittenden County to join CCTA as member communities, thereby allowing CCTA to become Vermont’s first regional transit authority. As part of its expansion, the CCTA merged with the Green Mountain Transit Authority (GMTA), which provided bus service in the Barre-Montpelier area and surrounding communities in central Vermont.

Greyhound provides intercity bus service from the Burlington International Airport to other communities in Vermont, and to Montreal's Gare d'autocars de Montreal and Boston's South Station and Logan International Airport. Premier Coach's Vermont Translines also provides intercity bus service between Burlington and Albany, New York along the U.S. Route 7 corridor in a partnership with Greyhound, also from the Burlington International Airport. Megabus provides non-stop service between Burlington and Boston, and service to New York City by two routes, with intermediate stops in Saratoga Springs, New York, or in Amherst, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut.

Union Station Burlington Vermont central section
Burlington's Union Station was built in 1916 by the Central Vermont Railway and the Rutland Railroad. It now serves only tourist rail operations.


From the late nineteenth century to 1953, the Rutland Railroad provided passenger service on the Green Mountain Flyer and the Mount Royal from Burlington to Chatham, New York in Columbia County, with connecting service to New York City via the New York Central Railroad. The last train north to run to Alburgh, a town in the northwest extremity of Vermont, was in 1948. From 1916, Rutland Railroad service was provided at the new Union Station on the Lake Champlain waterfront. From 2000 to 2003, the Champlain Flyer was a commuter service from Burlington south to the town of Charlotte, Vermont.

Since the closure of the Champlain Flyer, Burlington has had no active railroad connections. An Amtrak station is located 7 miles (11 km) away in the village of Essex Junction, Vermont.

In January 2013, Vermont governor Peter Shumlin proposed extending the Ethan Allen Express from Rutland, Vermont to Burlington. The proposal would create a regional rail corridor connecting Albany (New York), Saratoga Springs (New York), Rutland, and Burlington, which have combined metro populations of around 1.25 million inhabitants.


Air carriers at Burlington International Airport (BTV) provide the area with commercial service to major regional hubs and international airports. While scheduled carriers have not traditionally offered scheduled commercial flights to destinations outside the United States, there is a Customs Port of Entry for unscheduled flights. Since December 2011, the only available international commercial flights for BTV have been via Porter Airlines' winter seasonal service to and from Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto.

Major roads

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.

  • I-89.svg Interstate 89 – Though it does not directly enter the Burlington city limits, I-89 has interchanges in neighboring South Burlington, Winooski, and Colchester that provide access to downtown.
  • I-189.svg Interstate 189 – I-189 connects I-89 in South Burlington to U.S. 7 at the southern end of Burlington.
  • US 2.svg U.S. Route 2 is the main east-west route entering Burlington. After entering the city from the east, westbound U.S. 2 turns north to run concurrently with U.S. 7 towards Winooski and Colchester. The intersection with Interstate 89 is used by 42,000 cars daily.
  • US 7.svg U.S. Route 7 is the main north-south route through Burlington. Northbound U.S. 7 joins westbound U.S. 2 in downtown Burlington, and the two routes run concurrently north to Colchester.
  • Ellipse sign 127.svg Vermont Route 127 connects downtown and the Old North End with the New North End and the town of Colchester. Throughout the New North End, VT-127 is a limited-access highway officially named the Winooski Valley Parkway, though commonly known as the "Burlington Beltline".

Ferry service

Burlington is the headquarters of the Lake Champlain Transportation Company, a privately held company that offers ferry service for the North Country of New York state and the Champlain Valley region of Vermont. Summer seasonal service is available from Burlington's King Street Dock to Port Kent, New York. Two lines of year-round 24-hour service are provided from the nearby towns of Grand Isle, Vermont to Plattsburgh, New York and Charlotte, Vermont to Essex, New York.


Burlington's neighborhoods are generally recognized by residents, but have no legal or political authority.

  • Downtown: The city's commercial hub is north of Maple Street, south of Pearl Street (including all properties along Pearl Street), and west of Willard Street.
  • Hill Section: Burlington's wealthiest neighborhood is east of U.S. Route 7 (Shelburne Road and South Willard Street) and south of U.S. Route 2 (Main Street), but excludes UVM and University Terrace, while including all of Champlain College. The Hill Section is where the Burlington Country Club is situated.
  • The Intervale: The Intervale cannot be considered a neighborhood but is a large area encompassing many locally owned organic farms and natural preserves along the Winooski River. It is included on this list because its total area is larger than that of most neighborhoods in Burlington.
  • New North End: Burlington's most populous neighborhood, a northwest suburban extension of the city, is located at all points north of Burlington High School, includes Leddy Park and North Beach, and is west of Vermont Route 127 (the "Burlington Beltline").
  • Old North End: Burlington's oldest and most densely populated neighborhood is north of all properties along Pearl Street, west of U.S. Routes 2 and 7, and is inclusive of areas south and east of the former site of Burlington College (but north of Downtown and west of the University District).
  • South End: A once mostly industrial and now mostly artistic district south of Maple Street and west of U.S. Route 7 (Shelburne Street and South Willard Street), it includes the waterfront Oakledge Park and is home to the headquarters of many of Burlington's nationally known companies like Burton Snowboards and
  • University District: The University District is east of Willard Street, north of Main Street, and south of Riverside Avenue. Surrounded on three sides by U.S. Route 2, it includes UVM and many once single-family homes converted to student and yuppie apartments (although these are everywhere throughout the city limits and metropolitan area).


Churches in Burlington include the North Avenue Alliance Church, First Baptist Church, First Congregational Church, the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Paul, the First United Methodist Church, Christ Church (Presbyterian), the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – the episcopal see for the Diocese of Burlington – and the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, the First Unitarian Universalist Society, the College Street Congregational Church (United Church of Christ), The Burlington Church of Christ, and the non-denominational Church at the Well. The Conservative Ohavi Zedek synagogue is also located in the city, and there is an active Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

The Howard Mortuary Chapel in Lakeview Cemetery was built in 1882 as a gift to the City of Burlington from Hannah Louisa Howard, a local philanthropist. A native of the city, she was the daughter of John Howard, a successful Burlington hotelier. The chapel was designed in the High Victorian Gothic style by Alfred Benjamin Fisher, on cemetery grounds designed by E. C. Ryer in 1871.

The Ira Allen Chapel on the grounds of the University of Vermont campus, was completed in 1926, and was designed in the Georgian Revival style by McKim, Mead & White. The chapel's flashing beacon provides a nighttime landmark for those approaching Burlington from Lake Champlain. The chapel is part of the University Green Historic District.

Both of the cathedrals in Burlington – the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Paul and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – are modern structures built after their predecessors were destroyed by arson fires in 1971–72. The Episcopal Cathedral was completed in 1973 and was designed by Burlington Associates (now TruexCollins) in the Brutalist style, while the Roman Catholic Cathedral was built in 1974-77 and was designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, with the park-like grounds designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley.


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.

Burlington's own drag troupe, the House of LeMay, performs several shows a year, hosts the annual "Winter is a Drag Ball," and raises funds for numerous charities. The House of LeMay is the subject of the documentary, "Slingbacks and Syrup" which premiered at the 2008 Vermont International Film Festival in Burlington.

The Emily Post Institute, an etiquette organization, is headquartered here.

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 UVM circa 1983.

Other acts with ties to the city include Matisyahu, Strangefolk, The Essex Green, RAQ, James Kochalka, The Jazz Mandolin Project, Pork Tornado, Anais Mitchell, Greg Davis, Koushik, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Dispatch, Prydein, Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, Morgan Page, KT Tunstall, and The Vacant Lots.

Local art

The "South End Art Hop", is an annual event presented by the South End Arts and Business Association. Artists join businesses, artist studios, and galleries, which in turn open their doors to the public throughout the post-industrial section of Burlington, known as the "South End". The first Art Hop in 1993 had a little more than thirty artists and a dozen sites participating. In 2008, over 600 artists showcased their works in over 100 sites throughout the South End of Burlington. The event takes place on the Friday and Saturday following Labor Day in September.

The city has an arts department, Burlington City Arts, which serves many roles including cultural planning, education, showing contemporary art and hosting cultural events at The BCA Center. Burlington City Arts also runs a program in collaboration with UVM Medical Center, Art from the Heart, where patients have access to art supplies and devoted volunteer time.

Landmarks and buildings

Historic buildings

See also: National Register of Historic Places listings in Chittenden County, Vermont

Many of Burlington's historic buildings and sites have been recognized by their inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). In addition to 28 buildings, three shipwrecks and the Burlington Breakwater, the city encompasses 17 historic districts.

The ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center

Sites of interest

'Battery Park in Burlington' by Tania Dey
Battery Park, which overlooks the Burlington Waterfront & Lake Champlain
  • Ethan Allen Homestead Museum
  • Chittenden County Historical Society & Museum
  • ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
  • Robert Hull Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont
  • Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
  • The 1885 building of Ohavi Zedek, one of the oldest synagogue buildings still standing in the United States

Tallest buildings

Besides being the least populous U.S. city to be the most populous within its state, Burlington is also home to the shortest "tallest building" in any of the 50 U.S. states, Decker Towers.

The six tallest buildings in Burlington are:

Rank Name Image Height
ft / m
Floors Year
1 Ira Allen Chapel UVM IraAllenChapel 20161225.jpg 170 ft (51.8 m) 5 1927
2 Decker Towers Decker towers BTV.jpg 124 ft (37.8 m) 11 1970
3 Burlington Square 116 ft (35.4 m) 8 1976
4 Westlake Residential 108 ft (32.9 m) 9 2007
5 Key Bank 105 ft (32.0 m) 8
6 Cathedral Square 103.33 ft (31.5 m) 10 1979

International relations

Sister cities

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

Burlington is twinned with:

Sister lakes

In popular culture

Burlington was a filming location for the films Me, Myself & Irene (2000) and What Lies Beneath (2000).

Images for kids

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