Bellevue is a suburb of Seattle and rapidly-growing city in King County, Washington, USA, across Lake Washington from Seattle. It is sometimes categorized as an edge city or a boomburb. In 2003 the Census Bureau estimated the city had a total population of 112,344, making it the fifth largest city in the state and the largest on the Eastside of King County. According to the Washington State Office of Financial Management's April 1, 2006 estimate, the city has a population of 117,000.
Downtown Bellevue is undergoing rapid change. Lincoln Square, which opened in 2005, and a recently-completed overhaul of the former Qwest building into a new City Hall appear to be the leading edge of a development boom. Over the next few years, the area will see the construction of several additional high-rises and other projects for office, residential, and retail space.
Based on per capita income, Bellevue is the 15th wealthiest of 522 communities in the state of Washington.
Bellevue is located at 47°35′51″N, 122°9′33″W (47.597554, -122.159245).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 87.8 km² (33.9 mi²). 79.6 km² (30.8 mi²) of it is land and 8.2 km² (3.2 mi²) of it (9.29%) is water.
The city's name is derived from a French term for "beautiful view". Under favorable weather conditions, scenic vistas of the Olympic Mountains and Cascade Mountains can be viewed from hilltops (and strategically-positioned high-rise buildings) within the incorporated city.
The 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 greenbelt 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.
South of I-90 the city’s Eastgate neighborhood continues up Cougar Mountain. To the west of Cougar Mountain, Bellevue includes Coal Creek and Factoria, an unincorporated neighborhood.
Bellevue is bordered by the cities of Kirkland to the northwest and Redmond to the northeast along the Overlake neighborhood. 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 extremely wealthy suburbs of Medina, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point and Yarrow Point.
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 package including this and other road and transit projects will go before voters in November of 2007. However, transportation systems are not planned and built in a vacuum, and the light-rail proposal is competing with other Puget Sound area projects for funding.
Among the various proposals under consideration is a Sound Transit (ST) / Regional Transportation Improvement District (RTID) package tentatively to be put before the voters in 2007. The joint Sound Transit / RTID seeks to avoid the classic roads vs rail debate and fund light-rail completion north in Seattle as well as East Link. There are also plans to expand I-405 along most of the urbanized length, a replacement of the SR-520 Bridge across Lake Washington, and the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle. The financial uncertainty of the area's 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.
Bellevue is home to City University and Bellevue Community College.
The city hosts the Bellevue School District, with four main public high schools: Bellevue High School, Newport High School, Interlake High School, and Sammamish High School. All four were included in Newsweek's listing of the Best High Schools in America in 2005 (measured by the number of AP tests taken divided by the number of seniors), with the first three ranked in the top 50. Bellevue also has two alternative high schools, International School (which also made the list) and Robinswood High School.
At the elementary level, Bellevue is home to the Eastside's only Waldorf Education, at Three Cedars School.
With its immediate proximity to Redmond, home of Microsoft, and direct highway access to Seattle via Interstate 90 and Washington State Route 520, Bellevue is now home to the headquarters of many small and large businesses. Many of these are technology companies, most started in the 1990s. The city has numerous thriving commercial districts. It also immediately borders the tiny but extremely affluent Lake Washington “Gold Coast” district (Medina, Hunts Point, Clyde Hill, and Yarrow Point), whose residents include Bill Gates and control a large portion of the local wealth.
Bellevue is the site of the popular annual Bellevue Arts & Crafts Fair, held since 1947 at the end of July.
The 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 Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art contains one of the largest doll collections in the world—more than a thousand dolls—displayed on two floors of a Victorian-style building.
Opened in December 2005, Bellevue’s newest museum to date is KidsQuest Children’s Museum. Located in Factoria Mall, a shopping complex in the midst of a major remodel, its primary visitors are mothers and care givers with children from pre-crawlers to 12 years of age. Its 10,000 square foot space houses play and discovery areas, exhibits, offices, educational activities and classroom space.
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 is rapidly growing in size and diversity. As of August 2006, latest census estimates show Bellevue has a higher percentage of nonwhite residents than Seattle. Nearly a third of the city's residents are foreign-born, up from a quarter five years ago. Bellevue has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents among major cities in the state. In 2005, 32% of residents are nonwhite. The largest communities come from China, India, Russia and Mexico, attracted to business and tech industry jobs, manual labor jobs, quality schools and parks.
25% of the city's residents identify themselves as Asian, a rise from 17% in 2000, the highest in Washington state. East Indian and Chinese communities have doubled in size since 2000.