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March 27, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 14: Date with History

Date_history_4Preservation Burlington held a fundraiser Thursday evening, March 22, at the Fleming Museum, "A Date with History."  There were tasty munchies, mysterious historical characters mingling with the guests, a harpist and a guided tour of the current exhibit, "Burlington and Winooski 1920-2020: The Evolution of Our Built Environment."

History sometimes feels more concrete than it actually is.  After perusing the various blueprints, models and photographs sprinkled throughout the exhibit, you begin to realize how fluid and ever-changing our small cities are.   And once you realize this, it becomes clear how important all of our roles are in steering these developments in the best direction.  But which way to go?

There have been a variety of plans which have changed the face of Burlington and Winooski over the years - some in the distant past, such as urban renewal which did much damage to the community, and some which are more recent, such as the transformations of Church St and the Waterfront.  It is amazing to realize how hugely these changes affect our day to day lives. 


What if the two-lane highway proposed along the Waterfront had been built?  What if we had approved the proposal to turn the Waterfront into a Disneyland of sorts, packed full of shops?  And what if we had decided to build a dome over Winooski?  How would our lives be different if these proposals had been realized?


Andrea Rogers, Executive Director of the Flynn Center, noticed that many of these development proposals are more extreme at first, and then become more plausible as we pare them down.  Former Vermont Senator Sally Conrad pointed out that it is up to us to keep an eye on development and ensure that our cities grow in ways that are positive for all our citizens.  Ann Vivian, VP of Preservation Burlington stressed the necessity of striking a balance between development and preserving our past.

Date_history_7 Janie Cohen, Director of the Fleming Museum led our tour through the impressive exhibit (up through June 24th) which takes a comprehensive look at the complex and ever-transforming organisms that are our cities.

The exhibition looks at the impact of both the Urban Renewal and Historic Preservation movements on our downtowns, how changes in transportation have affected our cities, the ways in which natural forces such as floods, fire, and Dutch Elm disease have reshaped our urban landscapes, and the evolution of Burlington's waterfront from an industrial salvage yard to a recreational destination. - Fleming Museum



The evening was a smashing success and a lucky few even guessed who the four mystery guests were.  It is a fine line we walk between change and preserving our past.  But with an ever-vigilant community keeping an eye on things, I feel safe knowing we will move in the right direction - whatever that may be!

Ethereal song entitled "Brocade (Rewoven)" by Greg Davis' off his most amazing album, Curling Pond Woods.



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thanks for the great vlog eva. it makes me love burlington even more. love the harp music too.

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