Lake Street was the focus of a repaving project in 1936. At that time, the street appears to be a two-lane compacted gravel road with no curb or gutter. To the west (right) of the street, are several railroad tracks, overhead utility poles and a railroad signal light. Tall herbaceous grasses grow between the railroad tracks and the street, giving it a rough, unkempt look. Along the east edge of the street is a group of men hand-digging a narrow trench for new underground utilities. The new utilites were part of a WPA project that also widened the road and repaved the surface in asphalt. More information about the project is given in the caption which reads, “Lake Street WPA Project No. 65-12-336 looking south from intersection of Depot Street. This project consists of widening pavement to twenty-four feet with Telford Stone base construction, surfacing with a leveling course of penetration macadam varying in thickness from one to four inches and constructing Hot Mix stone filled sheet asphalt wearing surface two inches in thickness.”
Industrial buildings, warehouses, and one railroad track line the east side of Lake Street. A large, two story, low-pitched gable roofed structure appears in the foreground. This wood framed, metal clad storage building is divided into two sections, with the southern section slightly higher in height. Several doors and windows punctuate the west façade in a seemingly random order, and two signs are displayed above windows in the taller, southern half of the building, but are not readable. Four wood steps lead up to a narrow elevated platform that spans the length of the building on the west side. The wood platform with overhanging eave provide a semi-sheltered a loading and unloading zone when moving and transporting goods from the building to the adjacent railroad track to the west. Also along the single railroad track to the north of the larger two story building, is a small light-colored shed with a six-pane window and shed roof. At the time of the photograph, the building and shed were owned by J.O. Middlebrook & Sons and used to store agricultural implements and fertilizer(1). Although the construction date of the building is not known, it likely dates to the late 19th century when development along the Burlington waterfront was expanding rapidly with increased manufacturing and storage facilities.
In the background of the image are two additional buildings. The building adjacent to the Middlebrook owned building is a one story, wood frame and iron clad building owned by the Burlington Lumber Company(2). To the south, is the Sears and Roebuck & Company Merchandise Warehouse, owned by the John E. Booth Lumber Corporation(3).
(1) Sanborn-Perris Map. Burlington, Vermont 1942.
(2) Sanborn-Perris Map. Burlington, Vermont 1926 with 1935 updates.
(3)Sanborn-Perris Map. Burlington, Vermont 1942.
121 Lake Street
Today, Lake Street and the Burlington waterfront are quite scenic, with views overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains to the west. The decline of industry along the Burlington waterfront, left abandoned and dilapidated buildings that remained throughout the mid 20th century. Beginning in the 1980s, Burlington made efforts to renew the waterfront by removing the former industrial buildings and began to draft plans to develop the area(1). The area currently boasts many recreational activities such as the Burlington bike path, skate park, and a large amount of green space.
Lake Street is currently a paved, two-lane street with on-street parking along the east side. A concrete curb and gutter create a definite edge to the east of the street, while mixed species herbaceous vegetation softens the west edge of the pavement. Some railroad tracks to the west (right) were retained in the redevelopment plan, but are screened from view by a decorative fence and a few understory trees. The fence also acts as a safety barrier for pedestrians. Other vegetation lining the street includes a row of maple trees (Acer species) along the east edge that creates a uniform street frontage. A gravel parking lot provides overflow parking for large events is also located east of the Lake Street on the far left side of the photograph.
(1) Community Economic Development Office, City of Burlington, Vermont; Waterfront. www.cedoburlington.org/ 9 November 2006.
Historic Burlington Project
Depression Era Streetscapes: Old North End | 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 University of Vermont Library Special Collections, Louis L. McAllister Photograph Collection