Belleville is a historic city located in St. Clair County, Illinois, United States. It is the county seat and the largest city in the county, with a rich history that dates back to the late 18th century. Here's an overview of Belleville's history:
Early Settlement: Belleville was founded in 1814 by George Blair and was originally known as "Belle Ville," meaning "beautiful city" in French. The area was initially settled by French and German immigrants attracted by the fertile land and opportunities for farming.
County Seat: Belleville became the county seat of St. Clair County in 1814, which contributed to its growth and development. The county courthouse, built in 1816, still stands as a symbol of Belleville's historical significance.
German Heritage: In the mid-19th century, Belleville experienced a significant influx of German immigrants. They brought their culture, traditions, and skills, contributing to the city's development in various fields such as agriculture, brewing, and manufacturing.
Industrialization and Growth: The arrival of the railroad in the 1850s spurred industrialization in Belleville. The city saw the establishment of numerous manufacturing facilities, including breweries, carriage factories, and brick kilns. Industries such as brewing and manufacturing played a vital role in the city's growth and prosperity.
Education and Culture: Belleville has a strong tradition of education and culture. In 1857, Belleville established its first public high school, which eventually became Belleville Township High School East. The city is also home to Belleville Philharmonic Society, one of the oldest continuously performing musical organizations in the United States.
Military History: Belleville has a significant military history. During the Civil War, the city served as a training ground for Union troops. Scott Air Force Base, located adjacent to Belleville, was established in 1917 and has been an important military installation since then.
Architecture and Landmarks: Belleville boasts several historic buildings and landmarks. The St. Clair County Courthouse, built in 1861, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other notable structures include the Gustave Koerner House, a historic mansion-turned-museum, and the Cathedral of Saint Peter, an architectural gem.
Today, Belleville continues to thrive as a vibrant community with a blend of historical charm and modern amenities. The city celebrates its heritage through various events, festivals, and preservation efforts, ensuring that its rich history remains an integral part of its identity.
Top Tourist Attractions
Belleville offers a variety of attractions that showcase its rich history, culture, and natural beauty. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Belleville:
- National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows: This expansive Catholic shrine is a must-visit for religious and non-religious visitors alike. It features beautiful architecture, serene gardens, and various devotional sites. The shrine hosts events, concerts, and holiday light displays, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
- Eckert's Belleville Farm: Known for its agriculture and produce, Eckert's Belleville Farm offers a fun-filled experience for families and individuals. Visitors can enjoy seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin patches, hayrides, and corn mazes. The farm also has a market with fresh produce, baked goods, and local products.
- St. Clair County Historical Society Museum: Located in a historic building in downtown Belleville, the museum showcases the history of St. Clair County and Belleville. It features exhibits on local industries, military history, the region's German heritage, and more. The museum also hosts special events and programs throughout the year.
- Downtown Belleville: Explore the charming downtown area, lined with historic buildings, unique shops, and delicious restaurants. Stroll along Main Street to admire the architecture, visit boutiques, and enjoy local eateries and cafes. Downtown Belleville also hosts events such as art fairs, concerts, and farmers markets.
- Belleville Philharmonic Society: Founded in 1866, the Belleville Philharmonic Society is one of the oldest continuously performing musical organizations in the United States. Attend one of their concerts to experience classical music performances by talented musicians and immerse yourself in the city's cultural heritage.
- Hough Park: This picturesque park offers a peaceful retreat in the heart of Belleville. Visitors can enjoy walking paths, lush green spaces, a lake, picnic areas, and playgrounds. It's an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll, family gatherings, or simply enjoying nature's beauty.
- Labor & Industry Museum: Learn about Belleville's industrial history and the impact of labor movements at the Labor & Industry Museum. The museum features exhibits on local industries, including breweries, factories, and mining. It provides insights into the working conditions, contributions, and struggles of the region's workers.
These attractions highlight the diverse offerings of Belleville, from cultural and historical sites to outdoor recreation and family-friendly activities. Whether you're interested in history, nature, or local traditions, Belleville has something to offer every visitor.
Belleville experiences a humid continental climate characterized by four distinct seasons. Here's an overview of the climate in Belleville:
- Summers (June to August): Summers in Belleville are generally hot and humid. Average high temperatures range from the upper 80s to the low 90s Fahrenheit (around 30-33 degrees Celsius). Heatwaves are not uncommon, and temperatures can occasionally reach the upper 90s (around 35-37 degrees Celsius). Thunderstorms are also frequent during this season.
- Autumns (September to November): Autumn brings mild and pleasant weather to Belleville. The temperatures gradually cool down, with highs in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit (around 21-27 degrees Celsius) in September, dropping to the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit (around 10-20 degrees Celsius) in November. This season is known for its beautiful fall foliage as the leaves change color.
- Winters (December to February): Winters in Belleville are cold, but the severity of the cold temperatures can vary. Average high temperatures range from the upper 30s to the mid-40s Fahrenheit (around 3-7 degrees Celsius). However, temperatures can occasionally drop below freezing, and snowfall is not uncommon. The area typically receives around 15-20 inches (38-51 cm) of snowfall per year.
- Springs (March to May): Springs in Belleville are generally mild and gradually transition into warmer weather. High temperatures in March start in the 50s Fahrenheit (around 10 degrees Celsius) and reach the 70s Fahrenheit (around 20-25 degrees Celsius) by May. Spring also brings rain showers and thunderstorms, especially in April and May.
It's important to note that weather patterns can vary from year to year, and extreme weather events such as heatwaves, severe thunderstorms, and occasional winter storms can occur. It's advisable to check the local weather forecast before planning outdoor activities or traveling to Belleville.
Belleville is located in St. Clair County, in southwestern Illinois, United States. Here are some key aspects of Belleville's geography:
- Location: Belleville is situated approximately 16 miles (26 kilometers) southeast of downtown St. Louis, Missouri. It lies on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, within the Mississippi River floodplain.
- Topography: The topography of Belleville is relatively flat, characteristic of the surrounding region known as the American Bottoms. The area is marked by fertile agricultural land and is part of the larger Mississippi River Valley.
- Size and Borders: Belleville covers an area of approximately 23.9 square miles (62 square kilometers). It is bordered by several other municipalities, including Swansea to the west, Fairview Heights to the north, O'Fallon to the east, and Shiloh to the south.
- Waterways: The nearby Mississippi River serves as an important geographical feature for Belleville. While Belleville itself is not directly on the river, its proximity to the Mississippi River provides access to water transportation and influences the local climate.
- Parks and Natural Areas: Belleville has several parks and natural areas that offer recreational opportunities. Hough Park, in the center of the city, features a lake, walking paths, and green spaces. Other parks, such as Bellevue Park and South Side Park, provide additional amenities for outdoor activities.
- Scott Air Force Base: Adjacent to Belleville is Scott Air Force Base, a major military installation. The base covers a significant area and plays a crucial role in the local economy and community.
Overall, Belleville's geography is characterized by its proximity to the Mississippi River, flat topography, and a mix of urban and rural areas. Its location in the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area offers access to both urban amenities and natural beauty.