Photographer: Date taken: Houses in view:
Louis McAllister
Oct. 19, 1929
138, 137, 136, 133 and 132 North Winooski Ave.
Looking: Global position UTM:
18T 0642228, 4927276

This August 1929 view looking south down North Winooski Avenue is nearly an identical photograph to that shot in 1928 at the same location except for the unbroken swath of smooth macadam stretching from curb to curb. Earlier that year the department of public works had “busified” or ripped up the old streetcar tracks in favor of a new type of public transport system that employed motorized buses.

In 1927, after the Burlington Traction Company had failed to lengthen its North Avenue line as the city had requested, the Burlington Rapid Transit Company was given license to operate a bus route in direct competition with the Burlington Traction Co.[1] Within two years, the Rapid Transit Co. had purchased Burlington Traction Co. and soon halted all streetcar service. On August 4, 1929, shortly before this photograph was taken, the last Burlington streetcar rolled down the tracks to the intersection of St. Paul and Main streets. Draped in black cloth and drenched in gasoline, the car was set on fire and allowed to burn in a public pyre to mark the death of the city’s light rail transit. Soon after firefighters hosed down the blaze and the charred carcass was hauled away by tow truck, shiny Rapid Transit Co. buses rolled down church street and surrounded three sides of City Hall Park in a celebration of motorized solidarity.[2] Bus service began that very afternoon.

In the months leading up to the commencement of bus service, the public works department began tearing out the old tracks and resurfacing the road as can be seen in the July 1929 photograph of this same location. The resurfacing project on North Winooski Avenue began at its southern end and proceeded North, but was split into two segments. This photograph shows the completion of the first half.[3]

1. Alfred Holden, "Rails on the Roads: Trolleys and the Growth of Burlington," Chittended Historical Bulletin 1 (1993).

2. Burlington Free Press, August 4, 1929.

3. Burlington City Annual Report, 1932.

Click to view this street scene in 1928, or in 2005

Back to the intersection between North Winooski Ave. and North St.

North Winooski Avenue North of North Avenue

Historic Burlington Project
Burlington 1890 | Burlington 1877 | Burlington 1869 | Burlington 1853 | Burlington 1830

Produced by University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program graduate students
in HP 206 Researching Historic Structures and Sites - Prof. Thomas Visser
in collaboration with UVM Landscape Change Program
Historic images courtesy of Louis L. McAllister Photograph Collection University of Vermont Library Special Collections