As a former resident of Bellevue and current resident of the adjacent Laburnum Park neighborhood, the area holds a special place in my heart. Bellevue has developed a personality all its own and become a popular destination for those seeking a tight knit, walkable community. If you were to ask residents about the neighborhood, I’d be willing to bet nine times out of ten you’d hear something like “it’s just a great neighborhood” or “everyone looks out for each other here.” It’s been a long time in the making so let’s start from the top.
In the late 1800s, Lewis Ginter built several communities along the City’s streetcar routes. Ginter and his business partner, John Pope, acquired two farms that would become the Ginter Park and Bellevue neighborhoods. The area bounded by Bellevue Avenue, Hermitage Road, Westbrook Avenue and Crestwood Avenue became the seed from which Bellevue grew. The Bellevue arch was built not long after the community was conceived and today is probably Bellevue’s most recognizable landmark.
Unfortunately, Pope died not long after the arch was completed. The property was passed down to his siblings and eventually sold. Ginter died not long after Pope, but his heirs continued to build upon his ideas for Ginter Park. However, it was not until the 1920’s that Bellevue really came into its own. By the early 1940’s, the neighborhood was filled with the Bungalows, Colonial Revivals, Foursquares, Spanish Colonial Revivals and Tudor Revivals that we see today.
Though Bellevue, like many historic neighborhoods, has seen its share of ups and downs over the past 100 years, it has experienced significant rejuvenation since the early 2000s. The neighborhood really hit its stride when retail businesses began capitalizing on the previously under-utilized shopping corridors along MacArthur and Bellevue Avenues. Back in 2004, aside from Dots Back Inn and the now defunct Shenanigans, there wasn’t much happening on MacArthur or Bellevue Avenue. Bob Koch seized the opportunity and opened Once Upon a Vine, a unique wine and beer store. Today, it’s safe to say he NAILED IT. MacArthur and Bellevue Avenues are thriving with restaurants, shopping and retail services. Here’s a little snapshot of what’s come along since then:
Demi’s Mediterranean Kitchen – What more can I say? Seriously, it’s all in the title.
Early Bird Biscuit Company – Coming soon! And soon ain’t soon enough.
Enoteca Sogno – Authentic Italian food, great wines and atmosphere. Bellissimo!
Mi Jalisco – Family Mexican food (Read: “margaritas”)
The Mill on MacArthur – Traditional, home style foods. Locally sourced ingredients. Enough said.
Morsels – Sweet, sweet late night goodness on Friday and Saturday nights.
Northside Grille – Every neighborhood needs a neighborhood bar.
Stir Crazy – Coffee. Tea. Food. Art. This place is the true center of Bellevue.
Little House Green Grocery – Local, organic, natural and high quality food in small convenient (and green) package.
Nuttall’s Market – From a spot of sugar to a quart of oil, they seem to have at least one of just about everything you’d need in a pinch.
Bellevue Cleaners – They dry clean. That’s what they do and they do it well.
Nicola Flora – How convenient is it to have a neighborhood florist? Ask all the husbands in Bellevue and get back to me.
CVS Pharmacy – Prescriptions, snacks, greeting cards, and dicey last minute gift options!! A neighborhood classic!!
All kidding aside, Bellevue’s popularity is not the result of just one or two qualities or features, but the sum of many things: the architecture, access to other parts of the city, walkability, a tight-knit community, history, close proximity of parks and a whole lot of intangibles that you have to experience to understand.