Pioneers gave Bellevue its name in 1882 from the French word meaning "beautiful view." One of the town’s earliest settlers was William Meydenbauer, who rowed across Lake Washington from his Seattle home in the 1860s and built a cabin along the shoreline of what is now Bellevue (Meydenbauer Center is named for him). Bellevue was once just a crossroads with a gas station and a grocery store, surrounded by strawberry fields. The city was incorporated in 1953 -- its first high-rise was built back in 1969 and towered above its low-rise neighbors at 13 stories high.
Today, Bellevue is a quickly developing city on the east side of Lake Washington. Access to and from Seattle is via either the I-90 bridge or the 520 bridge. Downtown Bellevue is the focal point for growth in business and housing. Its attractions include a multitude of restaurants and coffee shops, Bellevue Square (one of the largest shopping malls on the West Coast), two museums, the flagship King County Library, millions of square feet of Class A office space, a regional convention center, many bookstores, movie theaters, and several parks.
The 443-acre downtown area has evolved into a robust and dynamic regional center of national prominence. While a developing and bustling professional city, it still retains some small-town perks, such as free parking at many stores and buildings. Bus service to and from Seattle is also very accessible and convenient.
Most Bellevue residents are professionals; many working in the quickly developing technology field. There is a mix of singles, married couples, and families who reside here. Elaborate estates, family homes, small cottages, apartment buildings, and high-rise condominium buildings coexist peacefully throughout Bellevue.
Public art is dispersed throughout Bellevue. Bellevue’s public art first appeared in the 1940’s with "Forest Deity," a wood carving by Dudley Carter at Bellevue Square. Today, over 70 works of public art can be seen outdoors and inside buildings in 16 downtown locations. These include fountains, sculptures, and paintings.
Bellevue Square, The Galleria, Crossroads Mall, and other smaller shopping locations offer some of the most extensive shopping amenities in Washington State. Downtown retail shopping offers a wide variety of goods and services. These businesses generate some of the highest sales-per-square-foot ratios in the nation, making Downtown clearly one of the Northwest’s premier shopping destinations.
Bellevue is often referred to as "A City in a Park" - the Downtown Park, one of many city parks, reinforces that thought. The Downtown Park is 20 acres of beauty in the heart of the downtown. Park features include a 240-foot long, 10-foot high waterfall, a canal enclosing a 5-acre open meadow, a 28-food-wide promenade and a reflecting pool.
Bellevue hosts many events throughout the year, with the highlight being the Pacific Northwest Arts Fair during the month of July. During the fair thousands of visitors meander through hundreds of booths as the fair shuts down part of downtown to allow for the numerous pedestrians that come to buy or look at the beautiful works of art. Bellevue also hosts the Bellevue Home Show, City Hall Art Show, Bridal Fair, Easter Egg Hunt, Summer Music Lunch Concerts, 4th of July Fireworks, and the Seafair Water Festival.
Average Rent: $$$$
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Downtown Seattle 15-20 minutes, 35-40 minutes in traffic
Bellevue represents the center of the expansive development and growth that continues to occur on the eastside of Lake Washington. Bellevue is constantly defining itself as an independent force of a city from Seattle and is home to much of the growth in our region. The city limits of Bellevue are very large and represent virtually every type of housing. Small- and medium-sized apartment and condominium properties are located directly on or just off the main arterials. You will find the most affordable rental housing available in the Crossroads and Lake Hills areas of Bellevue. These areas of Bellevue also have a large number of single-family homes in the neighborhoods located off the busy streets. Commercial amenities are located in close proximity to these neighborhoods. Downtown Bellevue has seen some of the most explosive growth in the entire west coast as of late. With major corporations, including Microsoft, filling up the new office space being built, developers have been scrambling and competing to provide the housing to match. Recent years have brought a slew of new midrise and high-rise luxury condominiums and apartment development. What has emerged is a new downtown Bellevue. What was once a place where people commuted in to work and left at night to live else where, Bellevue has grown to become a true urban living environment. Downtown living is expensive and is dominated by young professionals, many of which are in the high-tech field and affluent individuals looking for a work/live environment. Downtown Bellevue living offers immediate access to some of the best restaurants and shopping on the west coast. With this being the case, Bellevue has the most expensive rental housing on the Eastside. This goes for housing of all types, including houses, townhomes, small- to medium-sized condo and apartment properties as well as high rise luxury living. The majority of the development that has occurred in Bellevue began in the 1950s, and continues today. Those looking for vintage brick Tudors, bungalows and classic brick apartment buildings with hardwood floors need to cross the lake to Seattle. The larger apartment properties outside of the downtown core are sprawling complexes with many of them located in close proximity to Microsoft's campus.