Burlington Then and Now Historical Photo Exhibit

Burlington Then and Now: 150 Years a City

“...We represent a young city, which may in time be known and distinguished as the Queen City of New England. It has just been launched upon a career, that I trust will prove prosperous and happy. Its location for natural beauty is not equaled in any part of our country- and for natural and acquired advantages in a business point of view, for manufactures and a general business-character, few places are its equal, and none surpass it.”

In this excerpt from a June 7, 1865 speech, Albert G. Catlin, the first mayor of the City of Burlington, praises the new City’s beauty and prosperity. But what did the “Queen City of New England” actually look like when it was officially incorporated as a City 150 years ago? What buildings survive from the 1860s and what buildings from that era are no longer standing? This “then and now” exhibit of historic Burlington photo graphs from the 1860s, displayed alongside contemporary photographs captured from the same vantage points, reveals the history of our City’s built environment- what it once looked like and how it has transformed over the past 150 years.

Most of the historic images in this exhibit are stereo views designed to be viewed through a device known as a stereoscope. Stereo views are a pair of images arranged side-by-side which depict the same scene and create the illusion of a 3D image when seen through the prismatic lens of the stereoscope. “South from Battery, Burlington, VT” is an example of how these stereo views would have looked as a double image. These view cards were an extremely popular application of mid to late-nineteenth century photography; they allowed people to literally experience the world in depth. Many of the stereo views in this exhibit were taken by photographer Adin French Styles, who worked in Burlington from about 1865 to 1871 and published a series of stereo images known as “Green Mountain Scenery: 200 Stereoscopic and Card Views from all parts of Vermont.”

Britta Fenniman Tonn, Curator

Special thanks to Paul Reynolds of Paul Reynolds Photography and Angie Mae Lizotte, Contemporary Photographers. Also thanks to Christopher Burns and Prudence Doherty of UVM Special Collections; First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington; UVM Development & Alumni Relations; and Burlington City Arts.

Church Street looking south from the Unitarian Universalist Church, circa 1865
Historic photo courtesy of UVM Special Collections

Leunig’s Building and the intersection of Church and College Streets, circa 1870
Historic photo courtesy of UVM Special Collections

 

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, circa 1868
Historic photo courtesy of UVM Special Collections

 

View east on College Street toward the College Street Congregational Church, circa 1866
Historic photo courtesy of UVM Special Collections

View west on College Street across the ravine, circa 1866
Historic photo courtesy of UVM Special Collections and Fletcher Free Library

College Street Congregational Church and pond, circa 1870
Historic photo courtesy of UVM Special Collections

City Hall Park from Main Street, circa 1868
Historic photo courtesy of UVM Special Collections

View northwest from Church Street toward the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, circa 1865
Historic photo courtesy of UVM Special Collections and Fletcher Free Library