10:22 History of Burlington, Vermont / History of towns in United States

Country: United States
State: Vermont
County: Chittenden
City: Burlington

Population (2010):
• City 42,417
• 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)

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 42,417 according to a 2010 U.S. census estimate. Burlington is the least populous city in the U.S. to be the most populous within a state.

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).