1990s - The Land
How did Vermonters use the land in the 1990s?
In 1991, the US Postal Service made a new stamp to celebrate Vermont’s bicentennial(two hundredth anniversary of an event). The 29¢ stamp had a picture of a barn, farm fields, and a mountain. The stamp showed Vermont as a farming place. But the number of farms in Vermont was shrinking. The amount of developed(land that has buildings or houses, not farmland or forests) land was growing.
Two years later, a report called the state of Vermont an endangered(to be in danger of something bad happening) historic place. The report worried about “the future of this beautiful little state.” Some people thought that Vermont was changing too much.
A controversial(causing a disagreement or argument) change was the opening of new “big box” stores. In the 1950s, most stores were in downtowns(the business center of towns, usually with stores and services). But by the 1990s, many stores moved to malls or shopping centers on the edge of town. People could drive cars to the stores and park in the large parking lots.
In 1997, Walmart opened a new store in Williston. This store was built on an old farm field. Some Vermonters were against this sprawl(spread out in a way that is not controlled). They did not like new stores or houses built out in the country, away from downtowns. But other Vermonters liked shopping at the new stores.
Vermonters had different ways of thinking about how to use the land. In the 1990s, more people lived in Vermont than ever before. And the number of Vermonters kept growing. People needed places to live and shop. Children needed places to go to school.
The first National Park in Vermont opened in Woodstock in 1998. The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park tells the story of land conservation(the protection and careful use of land and natural resources). It is named for two Vermonters – George Perkins Marsh and Frederick Billings – who lived in the 1800s. They both worked to save the environment and change how people use the land. At the park, Vermonters can learn about the past and think about how they can protect the land in the future.
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
How has your town changed in the last 30 years?
What choices can you make to affect what Vermont will look like in the future?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
See where artist Sabra Field creates prints of Vermont
Check out other Vermont stamps at the National Postal Museum
Explore some activities about conservation from the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "1990s - The Land." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed September 28, 2023. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/land-use-in-the-1990s