History / Heritage
Port of Burlington Welcome Center
400 N Front St, Burlington
Open Daily 10 AM – 4 PM
Dedicated in 1928 as the Burlington Municipal Docks, the building enabled barges to be loaded with coal by means of an overhead conveyor. The Port of Burlington is now home to a State of Iowa Welcome Center. Information on statewide attractions, souvenirs, and a video of local attractions make this an ideal starting point for visitors.
400 N 6th St, Burlington
6th St between Columbia & Washington Sts, Burlington
This local landmark was constructed in 1894 to help connect the residential district at the top of the bluff with the commercial district down below. Snake Alley consists of five half-curves, two quarter-curves and drops 58 feet over a distance of 275 feet. Test your driving, walking or bicycling skills on what Ripley's Believe It or Not! calls “Unbelievably Crooked" and designated as #1 in their Odd Spots Across America campaign.
Heritage Center Museum
501 N 4th St, Burlington
Open Tuesday - Saturday 10 AM - 4 PM; other times by appointment
Step into the Grand Gallery with its impressive ceilings and learn about the fascinating geography of the region. Center stage in the 19th Century Gallery is the Native American process of arrow making and the history of rail. The Military Gallery rotates exhibits honoring those who have served. Keep children entertained for hours in Catfish Corners learning about pioneer life. Relive the glamour and enjoy the talents of local musicians in the Bart Howard Room, where a wide range of the “Fly Me To The Moon” composer’s memorabilia is on display.
Garrett-Phelps House Museum
2900 S Main St, Burlington
Open May - October Saturday & Sunday 1- 4 PM; other times by appointment
Located at the top of Snake Alley, this elegant Victorian home has nine rooms on display featuring original family furnishings dating back to 1774. An incredible textile collection is highlighted with yearly displays of period clothing. A “museum within the museum” awaits on the top floor in the Medical Memories Gallery, honoring the years this historic building was home to Burlington’s first Protestant hospital.
Hawkeye Log Cabin, Crapo Park
2900 S Main St, Burlington
Open May - October Saturday - Sunday 1 - 4 PM; other times by appointment
This cabin is situated in Crapo Park only feet from where Lt. Zebulon Pike raised the first American flag on what would become Iowa soil. The cabin was constructed in 1910 by the Hawkeye Natives, an organization whose membership was limited to people born in Des Moines County. The cabin now serves as a museum exploring early settlement experiences with pioneer furniture and tools.
Burlington Public Library
210 Court St, Burlington
Once inside, you will find a comfortable setting to read a book, search the web, or just gaze out the window at a great river view. In addition to books, the library loans out DVDs, audio books, CDs, and magazines as well as downloadable books and magazines. The history and genealogy room feature a strong collection of local and regional material. Footnotes, a used book shop, and a giant outdoor chess and checkers board add to the fun.
The memorial was dedicated on July 4, 2015 as a tribute to all veterans in the Mississippi Valley. Artistic scenes depicting each branch of service and the role it has played in peacetime and in war are featured on the front of the memorial, and over 2000 veteran names are inscribed on the reverse side.
Third Street between Washington and Columbia Streets
Burlington was the first capital of the Iowa Territory from 1838 – 1840, and the second capital of the Wisconsin Territory prior to that, 1837–1838. Although the building no longer exists, a historical marker can be found at its site.
National Historic Districts
Heritage Hill National Historic District
Located between High and Washington Sts and North 10th and North 3rd St, Burlington
The fashionable residential neighborhood of Heritage Hill features nearly 160 structures and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Convenient access to commercial and cultural activities made the Hill socially desirable during the status conscious period of 1870 - 1900.
Downtown Burlington Commercial National Historic District
Located from the riverfront to the 800 block of Jefferson St and between Columbia and Market Sts, Burlington
Named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015, this comprehensive district represents Burlington’s rise and prominence as a commercial center from the 1860s through the 1960s. Showcasing a wealth of architectural gems with 108 key structures, unmatched by any city its size. In recent years, many of the buildings have been carefully restored to highlight their former glory.
Manufacturing and Wholesale National Historic District
Stretching from Valley to Elm St between Main and Fifth St, Burlington
Named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, the distinctive large brick buildings of the “warehouse district” date to the late 19th and early 20th century. They were built by the companies that made Burlington a major hub of manufacturing and wholesaling for products such as furniture, leather goods, groceries, drugs, and candy.