Great Streets: Walking Burlington’s Church Street

From the beautiful photos of its major car-free shopping street, I've always been intrigued by Burlington, VT. While looking for a destination to bring our young son for his first airplane trip, we opted to go explore via a one hour flight to Burlington.

It's a very lovely small city and as you'll see Church Street did not disappoint. We spent a good deal of our time there. It was a vacation but my wife allowed me a few hours to shoot a little video and an interview.

One thing that did not make the final cut, was the story of how the marketplace came to be. I will type it verbatim for you from the historical markers that bound the street.

In 1962 architecture student Bill Truex experienced the transformation of Straget, Copenhagen's main shopping area, from traffic-snarled nightmare to successful pedestrian mall. Seven years later, while on the Burlington Planning Commission, Truex enlisted support from Pat Robins of the Street Commission and together they promoted turning Church Street into a pedestrian district. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and his chief of staff, Paul Bruhn, secured a federal grant and Burlington voters, with support from Mayor Gordon Paquette, passed a bond for the city's share of construction costs. The Church Street Marketplace, which opened on September 15, 1981 has been described as a the gem in the crown of the Queens City of Burlington.

What's amazing of course is how much further Copenhagen has gone in the years since the 1960s. Church Street is a great street and more U.S. cities need the heart of their downtowns to look the same.