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Bellevue, Nebraska

Bellevue Old Town

The City of Bellevue began as a fur post established by the Missouri Fur Company in 1822 to serve as a central trading point with local Omaha, Otoe, and Pawnee tribes. It received its name from early trappers who were impressed with the beauty of the view overlooking the Missouri River. Ideally situated on the Missouri River with access to the Platte valley, it became a hub for transfer of manufactured goods from the East and furs from the West. From the 1830s until the 1850s, Bellevue prospered. With the decline of the fur trade, Bellevue changed during the decade of the 1850s. With the opening of eastern Nebraska to settlement in 1854, Bellevue experienced a building boom, with the erection of the First Presbyterian Church (pictured), a bank, a hotel, and dozens of private homes.

The boom was short-lived, however. The expansion had been built on the premise that the city was to be selected as the territorial capital. As the oldest and most widely known settlement in the territory, it seemed a logical choice. In fact, the territorial governor , Francis Burt, had already moved into a residence in Bellevue. Shortly after he arrived, the new governor died. His replacement, T.B. Cuming, selected a new upstart community as the territorial capital -Omaha.

The second half of the century witnessed Bellevue's slip into relative obscurity. While Omaha grew from a few hundred in population in 1855 to 104,000 in 1890, Bellevue's numbers continued to slide until the city was near extinction. In 1876, the county seat was transferred to Papillion, 10 miles to the west. In the 1880s, Bellevue College was established. In the 1890s, an offer of inexpensive land brought Fort Crook to the Bellevue area. Both organizations provided an insurance against extinction. It would be the fort, however, that would cause the biggest impetus to Bellevue's population in the future.

From the 1880s to 1940, Bellevue's population grew only minimally, from around 500 to not more than 1200 in 1940. The small growth was primarily due to the improved transportation access to Omaha, which allowed for easier commuting.

It was Fort Crook, later named Offutt Air Force Base, that spurred Bellevue's largest growth. When Offutt became home to the huge Martin bomber plant during World War II and then , shortly after the war, housed the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command, thousands of workers, both civilian and military, made Bellevue their home. Bellevue's population grew from less than 1200 in 1940, to almost 4000 in 1950 and then almost 9000 ten years later. A decade later, Bellevue's population again more than doubled, to over 20,000.

Today, Bellevue's growth is primarily due to an expanding economy in the civilian sector. With the opening of the Kennedy Freeway, a limited access highway linked to the interstate system, a new building boom is in progress. Commercial, industrial, and \residential construction are all expanding. Bellevue has finally fulfilled the promise that its founders saw nearly two centuries ago.

www.bellevue.net/history

City of Bellevue Bellevue Chamber of Commerce
BellevueNE.com Bellevue on Wikipedia
City-Data.com Bellevue Leader (Newspaper)