The World’s Largest Tower of Filing Cabinets

I think this is one of the first Vermont oddities most Chittenden County denizens are introduced to, because of its easy to find location in a slowly gentrifying neighborhood. I lived in Burlington’s cool south end district for a few years before I moved onto other apartments, which I’m now regretting.

Sometimes the best adventures are in your own backyard. Or at least they can keep the doldrums away. One of my favorite ways to spend my days in Burlington was to go scouting. For what? That totally depended on wherever I walked with my camera. Thankfully, Burlington is a very cool and eclectic city.

Down on Flynn Avenue, you can’t avoid spotting the world’s largest tower of filing cabinets in a weedy field near Switchback Brewery. But…why?

These seemingly random filing cabinets were actually very much intentional. The strange tower was built in 2002 by local artist Bren Alvarez as an art project, and a silent jab at bureaucracy. It stands in the path of the ill-fated “Southern Connector“, an interstate highway that was never built – the blighted urban planning failure actually sits a block south, and was put on indefinite hiatus because of a swampy, polluted barge canal just a bit north. There are 38 drawers, each represents the number of years of paperwork accumulated by the project when the thing was fabricated.

But that’s not all this peculiar monument tells you. All over its rusting structure are urban hieroglyphics – hinting at local taggers and mysterious visitors who pass by and leave their marks in their own way. Names, pseudonyms and a rather cool map of Burlington are just a few of the things you can find etched onto the sides. Local lore has it that at the very top drawer, that lies slightly open, lies a hidden geocache – or at least some sort of mysterious object stashed up there, waiting for someone to see. But I couldn’t confirm is that was true or not. There definitely isn’t an official geocache listed on the website here.

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4 Comments on “The World’s Largest Tower of Filing Cabinets

    • I always thought so as well. I found out about them when I was maybe 15-16, and had to go find them. When I told my friend’s what I wanted to go see, they had the same comment haha

  1. I remember the first time I visited this tower, I was so flabbergasted. My brother and I went back a few times when he lived just down the road from them.

  2. My boyfriend and I were so excited to see this that when we finally stood in front of it we were speechless. We visited the sight three days ago. It is such an amazing piece of work. We going to stop by again in Spring. 🙂

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