Birth of the Marketplace


This information was adapted from a report prepared by Phillippos J. Loukissas and Stuart H. Mann, Community Studies Program, The Pennsylvania State University. The report was prepared for the Office of Management, Research, and Transit services, Urban Mass Transportation Administration, Washington, D.C.

The City Of Burlington and surrounding Chittenden County are Vermont's most populous areas. The State of Vermont is the third smallest state in the Union with 564,964 inhabitants according to the 1990 Census. It is one of two states designated by the U.S. Census Bureau as predominantly rural with thirty two percent of the state's population living in or around urban areas. During the past decade, Chittenden County's metropolitan population increased by 14 percent to 131,761 persons. With 39,127 residents, the city proper of, Burlington accounts for 29 percent of the county population Census). The average wage of Vermont residents is $22,364, while the Chittenden County figure is $25,917.

Burlington has been and continues to be the largest center of trade in the state of Vermont. The City's original commerce and trade can be traced to lumbering and farming, and transportation because of Burlington's position on the east shore of Lake Champlain. By the late 1800s, textile manufacturing prospered in the area due to the abundance of cheap hydroelectric power. As with many other cities in the Northeast, the 1950s and 1960s were a period of decline for the City. The textile industries had moved from the area, overall manufacturing was on the decline and the downtown area ceased capital improvements as the suburbs grew. The City's successful past as an industrial and commercial center in the 19th century is evidenced by the beautiful residences remaining from that period.

The metropolitan area has experienced continued growth in vitality in the last decade with the entrance of new industries and small businesses. Burlington is the headquarters for the Champlain Management Company (Bruegger's Bagels); Burton Snowboards and Rhino Foods. The chief industries in the area are IBM, Martin Marietta and IDX Corporation. The downtown area is the second largest employment district in the county with over 9,000 workers in service, government and retail positions. Universities and colleges make up the third largest base industry for the Burlington area. The University of Vermont, Fletcher Allen Health Care and three other colleges are all within a mile of downtown businesses and public spaces. The student population. of 16,500 is a major clientele for downtown businesses. A free shuttle runs seven days per week between Burlington's downtown waterfront, the Church Street Marketplace and the University  of Vermont. Burlington, has an active political landscape and a strong three party system.