Incorporated in 1855, Bellevue played an important role in the development of the metropolitan community and is Nebraska’s oldest continuous town. Established as a fur trading settlement in 1822 for Native American tribes and French Canadian trappers, it was called Belle Vue (beautiful view) by most of them. This name eventually was “Americanized” and adopted as the official name for the settlement.
Bellevue experienced great fluxes in population and its economy during the 19th century. In 1890, to encourage expansion, the town offered inexpensive land for development. This resulted in the establishment of Fort Crook which was later redesigned and named Offutt Air Force Base. A Martin bomber plant opened on base at the start of World War II, employing thousands of civilian and military people. And the population boom began!
Today Offutt is home to the 55th Wing, United States Strategic Command and the Air Force Weather Agency. The presence of this military installation has not only multiplied the population many times over but has resulted in the construction of homes and the establishment of technical services, businesses, and retail outlets to serve the military. These businesses have been the basis for an expanding economy which now serves the civilian population as well. Additionally, the Kennedy Freeway, a limited access highway, provides easy access to employment and entertainment in all areas of Omaha/Council Bluffs.
At this time, Bellevue’s population exceeds 50,000 people. It is home to Bellevue University, two growing public high schools, plus numerous public and parochial middle and elementary schools. Its population consists of many ages, races, religions, and cultures. Homes of all ages, styles and prices, as well as apartments and condominiums offer reasonable housing options. Parks, trail systems and Fontenelle Forest, a popular nature center, provide year-round outdoor activities, while theaters and historical sites are venues for cultural and ethnic programs.