Everyone is Welcome
The Old East End Neighborhood Coalition is dedicated to building community, preserving history, and creating safer streets. Join us and be part of the story!
The Birthplace of Burlington
The Old East End district is… well… old. When the area was still a vast frontier in 1772, Ira Allen, one of the founders of Vermont, saw a prime opportunity to build mills alongside the powerful Winooski Falls. His dream became a realty shortly after the Revolutionary War and as industry grew, so did the neighborhood. Ira cut a path [now Colchester Avenue] that became a significant Canadian trade route and linked the community to shipping on Lake Champlain. It’s the oldest road in town, and that makes the Old East End the birthplace of Vermont’s Queen City!
But wait, the pre-European history is even more compelling. This area has been a center of human habitation for thousands of years! The archeological record spans 500 generations of Native Americans and is one of the most prolific in New England. Area waterways provided sources of life and connection, and continue to be featured in Western Abenaki stories. The Winooski River also bore witness to the devastating conflict between European settlers and First Nation people. Any way you cut it, white people stole their land and decimated their population. It’s tough to find the right words, but it’s critical to acknowledge and examine this dark history.
Today, the Old East End is a peaceful place that includes the homes, businesses, and natural spaces between East Avenue and the Winooski River. We invite you to stroll our walkways and experience everything the neighborhood has to offer, from the thrill of a thundering waterfall to the serenity of a forest path.
What’s in a name?
So, tons of people have lived in the area over thousands of years and they had to call it something, right? According to early French documents, the Abenaki called their village Winooskik after the river Winoskitegok – sounds familiar, huh. Early Europeans decided to be contrary and named their settlements after the falls – Winooski Falls, Colchester Falls, Burlington Falls, and Catlins Falls. Adding to the confusion, the area has also been known as Catlinsburg, Winooski Village, and, in an incredible display of creative place naming, Colchester Avenue Corridor. Let’s not forget a current entry, made popular by Google Maps and Front Porch Forum, Centennial.
So, why are we calling it the Old East End when that name never appears on historic maps or documents? Well, we are all about community, so we’ve chosen to rally around the name handed down through seven generations of families and neighbors. If they’ve been calling the neighborhood the East End since the early 1800’s, who are we to argue?!
A Coalition of Neighbors
The Old East End Neighborhood Coalition was formed in 2018 to help build community, preserve history, and ensure safer streets. The organization has been instrumental in organizing social gatherings, commissioning a neighborhood mural, and establishing crosswalks and bike lanes. Our advocacy focuses on topics that are important to our neighbors. Please join us!
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The amazing mural at the top of this page is “The River Dwellers” painted by local artist Tara Goreau, and you can visit it right here in the Old East End at the corner of Barrett and Chase Streets.