April 11, 2022
If the state abbreviation is VT, why is the University of Vermont called "UVM?"
Burlington is the most-populous city in Vermont and the seat of Chittenden County. It is 45 miles (72 km) south of the Canada–United States border and 94 miles (151 km) south of Montreal. The population was 44,743 at the 2020 census. It ranks as the least-populous city to also be the most-populous city in its state.
A regional college town, Burlington is home to the University of Vermont (UVM) and Champlain College, a small private college. Vermont's largest hospital, the UVM Medical Center, is within the city limits. The city of Burlington also has Vermont's largest airport (the Burlington International Airport) in neighboring South Burlington. In 2015, Burlington became the first city in the U.S. to run entirely on renewable energy.
Early history to early 20th century
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.
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. The town was organized in 1785.
The War of 1812 was unpopular in Vermont and the rest of 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, British forces from Canada shelled Burlington. This is described as either a bold stroke by the British with an ineffectual response from the Americans or as a weak sally by the British, which was rightly ignored by the Americans. The cannonade lasted about 10 minutes and caused no casualties. The American troops involved were commanded by Naval Lieutenant Thomas Macdonough, later a 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 the 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. When elected mayor, Bernie Sanders set in place an extensive waterfront beautification plan which included adding public parks, a nine-mile bike path, and a community boathouse.
On September 5, 1901, Vice-president Theodore Roosevelt spoke to a Civil War fraternal group in Burlington. Nine days later, he became President of the United States when President McKinley died.
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 September 2021, during the Jewish High Holy Days, between Rosh Hashona and Yom Kippur, the City Council scheduled an anti-Israel BDS boycott resolution with a vote during the Days of Awe 48 hours before Yom Kippur. This was widely criticized as antisemitic and insensitive by national Jewish organizations, and prompted a counterboycott backlash effort. The resolution which was denounced by several council members, was withdrawn at the last minute.