Burlington's 'Boroughs': Where Locals Live, Learn and Play | What's Good | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Burlington's 'Boroughs': Where Locals Live, Learn and Play

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JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck

The Church Street Marketplace isn't the only street to see in Burlington. The city has several distinct neighborhoods with their own unique characters. There's the hip South End, the posh Hill Section and, of course, the Student Slums — just kidding. Kinda.

Here's a dossier on some districts outside the downtown core that you might enjoy exploring.

South End

Burlington's South End is a colorful postindustrial neighborhood favored by artists, foodies and creative-economy entrepreneurs.

Main Drag

Pine Street

History

The South End was once a manufacturing district. For 132 years, the Specialty Filaments factory made bristles for brushes; today the warehouse is home to Dealer.com, a local tech startup that sold for a cool $1 billion in 2014. The brick building where General Dynamics made Gatling guns? It's now a multiuse office space called the Innovation Center of Vermont. Manufacturing isn't totally history in this hood: The Burlington Record Plant has been pressing vinyl here since 2014.

Fun Fact

The South End Arts District encompasses the greatest concentration of artist studios and galleries in Burlington, including the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery, the Flynndog and the SEABA Center. Check 'em all out during September's South End Art Hop.

Landmarks

  • Vermont artist Mary Lacy painted Dealer.com's twin 32-foot silos on Pine Street in 2015, drawing inspiration from origami shapes.
  • The world's tallest file cabinet towers more than 40 feet over the north side of Flynn Avenue. This famous roadside oddity satirizes the bureaucracy of urban planning.
  • With 14 granite slabs standing in a 43-and-a-half-foot circle, Blanchard Beach's Burlington Earth Clock resembles a mini Stonehenge.

See & Do

  • Sip your way through the South End on a self-guided tasting tour, starting at Citizen Cider and heading south to Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, Queen City Brewery and Switchback Brewing.
  • Get your geek on at Burlington's maker space, Generator. It offers classes in 3D printing, laser etching, metalworking and more.
  • Eat, drink and rock out to live music at ArtsRiot, an event space on a mission to "destroy apathy." Better yet, time your visit for its warm-weather food-truck Fridays.

Waterfront

JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck

Notable for its lakeside park, boardwalk and bike path, Burlington's waterfront district is a serene space for physical recreation, festivals and epic people-watching.

Main Drag

Burlington Greenway, aka the bike path

History

In the 1880s, Burlington's waterfront was a commercial hub and one of the busiest lumberyards in the world. A hundred years later, the city converted the land into the publicly accessible Waterfront Park. Remnants of the industrial past remain — namely the Vermont Railway yard and the Moran power plant, a hulking brick building that's been the focus of numerous unsuccessful redevelopment schemes.

Fun Fact

Andy A_Dog Williams Skatepark - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Andy A_Dog Williams Skatepark

The waterfront is home to Burlington's world-class skate park, which features rails, ramps, boxes, a half-bowl and a half-pipe. In June 2016, skate legend Tony Hawk dropped in to help dedicate the park to late local DJ and skateboarder Andy "A_Dog" Williams.

Landmarks

  • Winged monkeys perch on the waterfront's Union Station and Main Street Landing buildings. The peculiar creatures were originally commissioned in 1975 for a now-defunct water bed shop called the Emerald City of Oz.
  • A 34-foot-tall statue of Chief Greylock at Battery Park, part of artist Peter Toth's nationwide "Trail of the Whispering Giants" series, depicts a leader of Vermont's native Abenaki people.

See & Do

  • Catch big-name bands at lakeside festivals all summer long at Waterfront Park. Just up the hill, Battery Park's band shell becomes a stage for free concerts from local and regional musicians.
  • Explore the lake's ecology, culture and history at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, an aquarium for all ages.
  • Take a 90-minute tour of the shoreline aboard the Spirit Of Ethan Allen III, which sets sail four times a day from mid-may to mid-October.

Old North End

JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck

A lively mix of lifelong residents, young families and New Americans makes the Old North End one of the most culturally diverse places in the state.

Main Drag

North Street

History:

This neighborhood has long been a haven for immigrants. During the lumber boom of the 1800s, it welcomed French Canadian and Irish workers. Since the early 1990s, it's become home to refugees fleeing violence from places such as Bosnia, Bhutan, Sudan, Somalia and beyond. Consider this Burlington's melting pot. Every July, the ONE celebrates its unique community with a grassroots arts festival called the Ramble.

Fun Fact

The fertile riverside land at the north end of the ONE was once the unofficial town dump; now it's home to urban farms. Secure your supply of locavore veggies by purchasing a weekly farm share through the Intervale Food Hub.

Landmarks

  • Elmwood Cemetery is one of the city's oldest burial grounds; many early residents of Burlington are interred here, as well as Revolutionary War soldiers.
  • Roosevelt Park, across the street from the city's Boys & Girls Club, is a vibrant community center with basketball courts and soccer and baseball fields.
  • The houses and apartment buildings coated in cheery fluorescent paint belong to local landlord Stu McGowan. He buys and rehabs dwellings throughout Burlington, but most of them are in the ONE.

See & Do

Mural at Mawuhi African Market - MATTHEW ROY
  • Matthew Roy
  • Mural at Mawuhi African Market
  • Is the Scibek Sizzler really Vermont's best burger, as reported in Food Network Magazine? Find out for yourself at the Shopping Bag variety store.
  • Take a walk on the wild side of local theater with a show at the Off Center for the Dramatic Arts.
  • Hit up the numerous and varied ethnic food markets along North Street.

New North End

JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck

Don't let the 'burbs-y vibe fool you. Thanks to its beaches, parks and affordability, the New North End is a desirable, up-and-coming area of Burlington.

Main Drag

North Avenue

History:

Largely developed during the 1950s as a postwar suburban extension of BTV, the NNE is Burlington's most populous neighborhood and the only part of town that ever elects Republicans to the city council and state legislature. But its demographics are shifting, in part because twenty- and thirtysomethings looking for starter homes are being priced out of the rest of Burlington. The area's diminutive dwellings are among the only relatively affordable housing left in town.

Fun Fact

Sen. Bernie Sanders and fans outside Hannaford - COURTESY OF BOBBY HACKNEY JR.
  • Courtesy Of Bobby Hackney Jr.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders and fans outside Hannaford

Sen. Bernie Sanders lives here (while he's in Vermont, anyway) and can sometimes be spotted shopping at the North Avenue Hannaford.

Landmarks

See & Do

  • Bring your pup to the Starr Farm dog park, one of the city's biggest and most popular.
  • Play ... pretty much anything at Leddy Park. It features fields for baseball, softball and soccer, as well as tennis, pickleball, handball and volleyball courts. There's also a year-round ice rink, a beach and a large wooded area.
  • Avoid the crowds downtown and dine at La Boca Wood Fired Pizzeria. If there's a wait, sample the suds next door at Simple Roots Brewing.

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