Bellevue is a rapidly growing city in King County, Washington. It is across Lake Washington from Seattle. Long known as a suburb or satellite city of Seattle, it is now categorized as an edge city or a boomburb. The population was 109,569 at the 2000 census, but by 2008 had grown to an estimated 123,771.
Downtown Bellevue is undergoing rapid change. It is currently the second largest city center in Washington state with over 35,000 employees and 5,000 residents. Based on per capita income, Bellevue is the 15th wealthiest of 522 communities in the state of Washington. Bellevue was recently named number 1 in CNNMoney's list of the best places to live and launch businesses.
Bellevue was founded in 1869 by William Meydenbauer and was officially incorporated on March 21, 1953. Prior to the opening of the Lake Washington Floating Bridge in 1940, Bellevue was a rural area with little development. Once the bridge opened, access from Seattle improved, and the area gradually grew into a bedroom community.
Following the 1963 opening of a second bridge across the lake, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, the city began to grow more rapidly. It has since become one of the largest cities in the state, with several high-rise structures in its core and a burgeoning business community.
Reflective of Bellevue's growth over the years is Bellevue Square, now one of the largest shopping centers in the region. Opened in 1946, Bellevue Square underwent a significant expansion in the 1980s. More recently, an expansion to Bellevue Square along Bellevue Way called "The Lodge" and the new One Lincoln Tower promise to strengthen downtown Bellevue's role as the largest Seattle Eastside shopping and dining destination.
The city's long-term plans include the Bel-Red Corridor Project, a large-scale planning effort to encourage the redevelopment of a large northern section of the city bordering the adjacent town of Redmond. Patterned after what many civic leaders consider the successful redevelopment of the downtown core, early plans include "superblock" mixed use projects similar to Lincoln Square. Premised on the 2008 approval of the extension of Link Light Rail to the Eastside, the city hopes to mitigate transportation problems impeding earlier efforts in redeveloping the downtown core; viewed as an economic development opportunity by many in the business and building development community, the process has focused on infrastructure and the encouragement of private construction in a large-scale urban renewal effort.
Bellevue is located at 47°35′51″N 122°09′33″W (47.597554, -122.159245).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 33.9 square milesThe city lies between Lake Washington to the west and the smaller Lake Sammamish to the east. Much of Bellevue is drained by the Kelsey Creek watershed, whose source is located in the Larsen and Phantom Lake green belt and whose outlet is near where Interstate 90 meets Lake Washington's eastern shore. The city is bisected by Interstate 405 running north-south, and the southern portion is crossed from west to east by Interstate 90. The State Route 520 freeway roughly delineates the upper reaches of Bellevue.
South of I-90 the city surrounds an unincorporated part of King County called Eastgate. South of Eastgate, the city continues up Cougar Mountain. On top of Cougar Mountain, there is another unincorporated King County island called Hilltop. To the west of Cougar Mountain, Bellevue includes the Coal Creek and Factoria neighborhoods.
Bellevue is bordered by the cities of Kirkland to the north and Redmond to the northeast along the Overlake and Crossroads neighborhoods. Across the short East Channel Bridge, I-90 connects Bellevue to Mercer Island to the southwest. Issaquah is to the east, down I-90 at the south end of Lake Sammamish. The city is also bordered to the west by the suburbs of Medina, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point and Yarrow Point. The south end of Bellevue is bordered by the city of Renton, and to the southeast, the incorporated city of Newcastle.
Districts and their NeighborhoodsEdit
- Northwest Bellevue (Partially Downtown Bellevue)
- Bridle Trails
- Northeast Bellevue
- West Bellevue (Partially Downtown Bellevue)
- West Lake Hills
- Sammamish / East Lake Hills
- Eastgate / Cougar Mountain
Bellevue is the site of the popular annual Bellevue Arts and Crafts Fair (originally Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Fair), held since 1947 at the end of July.
Bellevue Arts MuseumThe Bellevue Arts Museum first opened in 1975, then moved to Bellevue Square in 1983. In 2001 the museum moved into its own building, designed by Steven Holl. The museum subsequently ran into financial difficulties and was forced to close to the public in 2003. After a lengthy fundraising campaign, a remodel, and a new mission to become a national centre for the fine art of craft and design, the museum re-opened on June 18, 2005 with an exhibition of teapots.
The biennial Bellevue Sculpture Exhibition draws thousands of visitors to the Downtown Park to view up to 46 three-dimensional artworks from artists around the country.
Bellevue holds an annual Strawberry Festival to celebrate its strawberry farming history.
The Bellevue 24-Hour Relay has also been hosted every July in Bellevue Downtown Park.
With its immediate proximity to Redmond, home of Microsoft, and direct highway access to Seattle via Interstate 90 and State Route 520, Bellevue is now home to the headquarters of many small and large businesses, many of which are technology companies that started in the 1990s. The city has numerous thriving commercial districts, including three major shopping centers aside from Bellevue Square: Factoria Mall to the South, Crossroads Mall to the East, and the Overlake Shopping District in the North.
In 2006 Bellevue was rated one of the 25 safest cities in America, based on the per-capita incidence of violent crime. On the same subject, the Bellevue Police Department is strongly supported by the community.
Overlake Hospital Medical Center is the major hospital in Bellevue.
Bellevue is the main Eastside hub for both the local transit authority, King County Metro, and Sound Transit, the regional transit system. The Bellevue Transit Center, which serves both Metro and Sound buses, is located in the heart of the downtown business district and is connected to Interstate 405 by NE 6th St. and a direct-access Texas T HOV ramp. Local buses run into Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Renton, and the University District; regional buses go to Bothell, Lynnwood, Everett, Seattle, Renton, Kent, Auburn and Federal Way, among other cities.
The East Link light rail line is planned to run from Seattle through Mercer Island and Bellevue before ending in Redmond. A measure including this and other regional road and transit projects went before voters on November 4, 2008 and was approved. However, the financial uncertainty of the area's other numerous transportation projects reflect the political fragmentation of the Puget Sound area. What is becoming apparent are the increasing costs associated with the central Puget Sound's regional transportation infrastructure.
The City of Bellevue has undertaken an extensive "Bel-Red Area Transformation" process which seeks to plan some 900 acres in the northern portion of the city, all of which is premised on the extension of light rail to the Eastside under Sound Transit 2. The top-down and highly integrated land use and transportation planning is similar to earlier planning for the Downtown.
Bellevue is also served by a railroad, a Burlington Northern branch line known as the Woodinville Subdivision, which includes the historic Wilburton Trestle. This local freight line is the subject of debate over whether to railbank the line and construct a multi-purpose trail. As of March, 2009, the Port of Seattle had to postpone its acquisition of the corridor because of instability in the bond market.