RanksRus.com, an online publication focused on “putting people, places, and things in their rightful place,” has determined that Burlington, Vermont, is the most listed city in the United States. That news does not come as a surprise, perhaps, in a town that celebrates its myriad accolades with banners in City Hall Park that trumpet the city’s appearance on “Best” lists for everything from tech innovation to craft beers to bass fishing.

“Our geographic rankings are generated through a complex algorithm that factors in metrics such as cost of living, quality of public education and human/canine ratios,” said Josh Steeves, rankster-in-chief at San Francisco-based ranksRus.com. “Plus, my roommate’s girlfriend went to UVM, so that just kind of put Burlington over the top.”

Burlington’s home state of Vermont and the university at the top of the city’s hill have also stacked up their own impressive rankings achievements in recent months.

The distinctive water tower that stands on the heights of UVM’s campus has just been lauded by a leading travel magazine. National Geographic Traveler puts a new spin on the world’s architectural wonders with “Ten Utilitarian Towers to See Before You Die,” an article in the latest issue.

“This isn’t about the innovation of Louis Sullivan’s Chicago skyscrapers or the miracle of modern engineering that is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Been there, done that,” said Sam Rivers, special projects editor for National Geographic. “We wanted to take a deeper look at true working structures—places that seem to spring organically from the landscape, as if they’ve been there across the ages.”

Tops on the list? A towering slurry storage tank along Interstate 57 north of Effingham, Illinois. UVM’s water tower (formally, the property of the City of Burlington) ranked fourth on the list.

UVM water tower "Its striking profile does nothing but enrich our view of the Green Mountains on the horizon.” -- Tom Sullivan, UVM president. (Photo: Thomas Weaver)

When UVM President Tom Sullivan and Provost David Rosowsky were informed of the water tower landing the university on another media “Best” list, Sullivan punched his fist in the air, licked his right index finger, and mimed marking a tally on a chalkboard. Rosowsky quietly slipped his phone from the pocket of his suit coat and tweeted the news.

“We are beyond pleased with this recognition,” Sullivan said. “Yes, UVM is replete with classic stone buildings overlooking magnificent Lake Champlain—but our majestic, metal water tower, seen from miles away, is the true beacon of our campus. Viewed from the Davis Center or Jeffords Hall, its striking profile does nothing but enrich our view of the Green Mountains on the horizon.”

Ali Baba'sLars Murdock, co-owner of Ahli Baba's Kabob Shop, tempts a seagull with a sweet potato fry from his food truck along University Row. (Photo: Joshua Brown)

More good news, Modern Waterfowl, a magazine for birding enthusiasts, has named Burlington as the top destination in all of New England for freshwater gulls to feast on French fries and, therefore, a prime location for those who love to view birds in any habitat, natural or man-made.

Nectar’s Bar and Lounge on Main Street, famous for gravy fries, certainly isn’t alone in contributing to the Queen City’s French fry-rich environment. Beansie’s Bus at Battery Park and Ahli Baba’s Kabob Shop on Main Street are also popular with man and bird, alike.

Lars Murdock, co-owner of Ahli Baba’s, was surprised to learn of the recognition from Modern Waterfowl. “It’s just the nature of the food business that we don’t always know who or what will eat our product once it crosses the counter,” he said. “But I can see how our sweet potato fries, in particular, would have a lot of appeal to a seagull.”

Validation that the Davis Center’s central staircase is, indeed, a formidable athletic challenge came in February when it was included in a new list—“Ten Public Staircases That Will Kick Your Ass and Sculpt Your Glutes!”—compiled by Women’s Fitness magazine.

Davis Center stairs workoutPhoebe Tucker and Elena Palermo, UVM Outing Club leaders, complete their tenth rep up the Davis Center staircase during a pre-hiking-season workout. (Photo: Joshua Brown)

Declan Connolly, professor of physical education and exercise science, has worked with countless elite athletes in the UVM Human Performance Lab he directs. And the former Irish National Youth Champion in road cycling is no stranger to the rigors of endurance training. “You walk across the flats from Bailey/Howe, you hit that staircase, it’s just a wall. Your body simply isn’t ready for it. Physiologically speaking, your cardiovascular system is racing to meet the sudden change — that’s going to mean shortness of breath, oxygen debt, that burn of lactic acid in your legs, and the feeling that you want to lie down and curl up like a wee baby on the second landing,” Connolly said. “In layman’s terms, it is just a bugger.”

AAA Roadways Magazine celebrates the “tireberg,” an often-overlooked pleasure of winter driving, with a cover story in their new issue. And, once again, the Green Mountain State is near the top of a national list, landing #2 in the country for tirebergs, those clots of ice, snow, and slush that accumulate behind your car’s wheel wells and are, for many, a guilty pleasure to kick and crush.

“Hallowed Crust,” a UVM Center for Research on Vermont Seminar last December, explored the depth of the state’s tireberg tradition, which dates back to when Henry Ford’s Model T first ventured onto the rolling dirt roads of the Green Mountains.

Chris Burns with fenderbergUVM archivist Chris Burns examines The Coolidge Chunk, an ice/snow formation kicked off a dairy wagon by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926. (Photo: Joshua Brown)

Vermontiana preserved in UVM Libraries’ Special Collections includes a historic tireberg that President Calvin Coolidge is said to have kicked off a dairy wagon during a February 1926 visit to the family homestead in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. Long locked away in freezers at Simpson Dining Hall, “The Coolidge Chunk” will go on permanent exhibit in a refrigerated display case following the renovation of Billings Library.  

Other accolades

The University of Vermont recently ranked among the nation’s top public research universities in tree-to-student ratio (1-to-4) according to U.S. News & World Report. And Grandstand: The Journal of Sports Vending picked Catamount Ice, a UVM-developed frozen dessert made from Zamboni-harvested ice rink shavings, as 2014’s Best New Product in the collegiate division.

Catamount IceTreat made from recycled Gutterson rink ice has been lauded by the sports vending industry. (Photo: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist)

UVM and Burlington pop up on national best lists year round, not just on April 1. See a full list of recent acclaim: go.uvm.edu/acclaim


Thomas James Weaver