Bellaire was founded in 1908 by William Wright Baldwin, who was the president of the South End Land Company. Baldwin, a native of Iowa, was well known as the vice president of the Burlington Railroad. Bellaire was founded on what was part of William Marsh Rice's 9,449 acres (38.24 km2)ranch. Baldwin surveyed the eastern 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of the ranch into small truck farms. He named those farms "Westmoreland Farms". Baldwin started Bellaire in the middle of "Westmoreland Farms" to serve as a residential neighborhood and an agricultural trading center. South End Land Company advertised to farmers in the Midwestern United States. Baldwin stated that the town was named "Bellaire", or "Good Air" for its breezes". Bellaire may have been named after Bellaire, Ohio, a town served by one of Baldwin's rail lines.
Six miles of prairie was a buffer zone between Houston and Bellaire. Originally the town was bounded by Palmetto, First, Jessamine, and Sixth (now Ferris) Streets. In 1910 Edward Teas, a horticulturist, moved his nursery to Bellaire from Missouri so Teas could implement Sid Hare's landscaping plans. Bellaire was incorporated as a city with a general charter in 1918, ten years after its founding. Bellaire had a population of 200 at the time. Because of the 1918 incorporation, Houston did not incorporate Bellaire's territory into its city limits, while Houston annexed surrounding areas that were unincorporated.
Bellaire's population had reached 1,124 in 1940. After 1940, Bellaire had a rapid population explosion in the post-World War II building boom. On December 31, 1948, the city of Houston had annexed the land around the city of Bellaire, stopping the city of Bellaire's land growth. Bellaire remained independent of Houston; Bellaire adopted a home rule charter with a council-manager government in April 1949. By 1950 the city's residents had numbered 10,150. Bellaire High School was established in 1955.
According to a Bellaire resident quoted in the Houston Post, prior to 1992, the tax base of the city of Bellaire had been decreasing. After neighbor West University Place eased restrictions on developers, new houses were constructed in West University Place, and the city gained a larger tax base. Bellaire decided to also liberalize its development restrictions to allow for new development by streamlining its no-growth building permit process. According to Karl Lewis, a vice president and sales manager at John Daugherty Realtors, when the prices of West University Place land reached about $20 per square foot, area home buyers began to consider Bellaire, which had an average price of $10–12 per square foot. Don Stowers of the Houston Press said that Bellaire and West University Place had "comparable" attributes such as independent fire and police departments, zoning, recreation facilities and parks, and schools "among the best in Houston." Michael Blum, president of Blum & Associates Realty, said "Bellaire is a bargain." Blum added that Bellaire was affordable compared to similar American neighborhoods and that Bellaire had proximity to business districts, "excellent" municipal services, and "superior" schools. Affluent families increasingly moved to Bellaire. The price of an average house in Bellaire increased from $75,000 to $500,000 from 1986 to 2006.
In 2002 the City of Bellaire attempted to acquire all or part of the 10 acres (4.0 ha) Teas Nursery, Bellaire's oldest business and the oldest nursery in Greater Houston, for park development. The company fought the city's take-over attempt. During that year the owners of Teas sold 5 acres (2.0 ha) at the rear of the property to Lovett Homes, a home developer. Frank Liu, the owner of Lovett Homes, said that it had an option to buy the remaining 5 acres (20,000 m2). When the City of Bellaire denied a replat application sent by Teas Nursery, in June 2002 the nursery filed a lawsuit against the city and its zoning commission. In 2005 the lawsuit was settled out of court.
During the Hurricane Rita evacuation, a bus filled with residents from Brighton Gardens, a nursing home in Bellaire, caught on fire and exploded in the city of Wilmer. The September 23, 2005, explosion killed 24 people out of the 38 residents and employees in the bus. The resulting lawsuit was settled in June 2009. On March 23, 2008, a tour bus carrying Tejano singer Emilio crashed in Bellaire. By 2008, an increasing number of houses sold for over $1,000,000.
Teas Nursery, which was started by horticulturist Edward Teas; it was closed in 2010 and will become a park
On December 31, 2008, Bellaire police officers confronted Robbie Tolan, the son of former Major League Baseball playerBobby Tolan, in the driveway of his house at the 800 block of Woodstock. Officers suspected Tolan, who was unarmed, of stealing a sports utility vehicle in the driveway and shot Tolan in the chest; Tolan's family owned the vehicle. Tolan was hospitalized with injuries to one lung and a liver. The incident sparked allegations of racial profiling. Members of minority groups reported that Bellaire police racially profiled people. In 2002, José Cruz, Jr., son of baseball player José Cruzwas stopped since his vehicle was missing a front license plate. He was arrested by Bellaire police and spent one night in jail after Bellaire law enforcement told him that he had a warrant for his arrest. The Houston Chronicle said that the Bellaire police decision to arrest Cruz was a mistake. In January 2009, Cruz accused the police of racial profiling. Mayor Cindy Siegel said that she was unaware of racial profiling by police. Siegel announced that the city will investigate racial profiling and hire an independent consultant to look at traffic stop data. The local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) branch said that it established a pact with the City of Bellaire; people may report civil rights violations from Bellaire Police to the branch if the people do not wish to contact the City of Bellaire. However, the NAACP branch has not yet provided the city with any civil rights violations. On April 6, 2009, a Harris County grand jury indicted Sergeant Jeffrey Cotton, the police officer, for aggravated assault by a public servant. If convicted, Cotton could face up to life in prison. In addition the family sued the police department and the police officer. The upcoming trial in Harris County District Court on criminal felony charges against Cotton began on January 25, 2010. Jury selection was scheduled to begin on May 3, 2010. The officer was found not guilty in his criminal trial in May 2010.
Teas Nursery closed in 2010; the company president, Tom Teas, intended for the property to be redeveloped into single-family houses. The Teas Nursery business was either going to move to a new location or be liquidated. In December the Rubenstein family bought the Teas property; the family planned to donate it to the City of Bellaire for community purposes. The Teas property has two historic buildings. Scott Rubenstein, who handled negotiations for the Rubenstein family, described the Teas lot as "the last largely undeveloped tract in the city and, frankly, in the inner loop of the city of Houston where you can do something that can be used by people from all around the city." Mayor of Bellaire Cindy Seigel said "I am just thrilled we’ll be able to preserve a historical property that is an important piece of Bellaire’s history."
In January 2010 Siegel announced that she would oppose a plan to locate a permanent, privately funded Houston Dynamo stadium at the intersection of South Rice and Westpark, near Bellaire. In April 2010 it was announced that the Dynamo stadium, now known as BBVA Compass Stadium, will be built in East Downtown Houston.
Bellaire's housing lots are 75 feet (23 m) by 130 feet (40 m), allowing for houses larger than those that could be built on typical 50 feet (15 m) by 120 feet (37 m) West University Place lots. A Bellaire lot can accommodate a house with a detached garage and a swimming pool, while the typical West University Place lot could accommodate a newly constructed Georgian house described by Don Stowers of the Houston Post as "lot-hugging." The more spacious and inexpensive housing lots prompted area home seekers to consider Bellaire.
The original Bellaire housing stock typically consisted of 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom post-World War II houses described by Stowers as "smallish." Because of the attributes, developers did not hesitate to tear these houses down and build new houses. Some individuals chose to renovate their houses instead of having them torn down. Many individuals who would otherwise renovate the houses reconsidered their decisions as the land value increased. In some cases the land value was higher than the value of the structure on the lot. Some subdivisions had larger houses, particularly the Carroll subdivision south of Bellaire Boulevard and the Braeburn Country Club Estates subdivision between Chimney Rock and Rice. Many of the houses in those subdivisions were built in the 1950s and early 1960s, and many were on .5 acres (0.20 ha) lots. Karl Lewis, the vice president and sales manager of John Daugherty Realtors, said that many of the houses were "still quite attractive" and "similar to the large Tanglewood homes." In 1992 smaller lots in Bellaire were about $50,000 ($84028.93 in today's money) and up, while larger lots were $300,000 ($504173.58 in today's money) to $500,000 ($840289.31 in today's money).
In a 2007 Houston Press article John Nova Lomax, a journalist, said that parts of Bellaire's downtown had "a certain raffish 1950s charm – the Bellaire Broiler Burger, for example – but it’s boring." Lomax stated in a 2008 Houston Press article that, due to the growth and dominance of Houston, municipal enclaves with their own services, including Bellaire, "are little more than glorified neighborhoods."
Many Bellaire streets, such as "Holly," "Holt," "Maple," and "Pine," are named after trees. The word "Holt" means a small grove or a forest of trees.
One community in Bellaire, Southdale, was developed by William G. Farrington, the developer of Tanglewood. Southdale was originally developed in the late 1940s with two bedroom houses. The houses were marketed to World War II veterans. The houses were about four times less expensive than the around $25,000-each ($245394.74 in today's money) Tanglewood houses. Another subdivision in Bellaire is named "Broad Acres."
The City of Bellaire has property zoned for light industrial, commercial, and mixed-use residential and commercial uses.Bellaire has some high-rise office buildings along Interstate 610.Frost Bank's Houston-area offices are located in Bellaire.AT&T Inc. operates its Houston-area headquarters in an office building at 6500 West Loop South in Bellaire; the building was with SBC Corporation before it absorbed the former AT&T. The Houston Metropolitan Chamber, previously the Greater Southwest Houston Chamber of COmmerce, assists economy activity in Bellaire. The main offices of the Greater Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce were previously located in Bellaire.Chevron has a 33-acre (130,000 m2) campus at 4800 Fournace Place in Bellaire that is the headquarters for the Chevron Pipe Line Company along with several other business units. Prior to the merger between Chevron and Texaco, the facility belonged to Texaco. Texaco built the 502,000 square feet (46,600 m2) square foot facility.South Texas Dental has its corporate headquarters in Bellaire.
Bellaire had 8,120 employed civilians as of the 2000 Census, including 3,835 females. Of the civilian workers, 5,368 (66.1%) were private for profit wage and salary workers. Of them 689 (8.5% of the total Bellaire civilian workforce) were employees of their own corporations. 952 (11.7%) were private non-profit wage and salary workers. 446 (5.5%) worked for local governments. 479 (5.9%) were state government workers. 111 (1.4%) were federal workers. 754 (9.3%) were self-employed; none of them worked in agriculture, forestry, fishing, or hunting. 10 (.1%) were unpaid family workers.
The historic Bellaire street car is within Paseo Park
Bellaire has several parks within the city limits operated by the city. Bellaire Zindler Park, a 7.5-acre (30,000 m2) park, was given its current name in honor of Marvin Zindler, a Houston journalist; it was originally named Bellaire Park. Bellaire Zindler Park includes a neighborhood pool, two lighted tennis courts, a gazebo, a picnic area, a jogging trail, an open playground, the Bellaire Recreation Center, and the Bellaire Civic Center, which includes auditoriums and meeting rooms. The .875-acre (3,540 m2) Vic Driscoll Park consists entirely of open green space. The 2.1-acre (8,500 m2) Evergreen Park includes a neighborhood pool and a playground and picnic area. The 4.7-acre (19,000 m2) Feld Park includes an adultsoftball field, a playground, two lighted tennis courts, and the Feld Scout House. The .2-acre (810 m2) Joe Gaither Park includes a play structure with swings and green space. The 3.1-acre (13,000 m2) Horn Field (Avenue B at Holly Street) includes two lighted baseball fields, youth soccer (football) fields, and a T-Ball field. The .489-acre (1,980 m2) Jacquet Park consists of a playground and picnic area. The 1.5-acre (6,100 m2) Lafayette Park includes a playground and picnic area, an open play area, and the Officer Lucy Dog Park, a dog park. The .75-acre (3,000 m2) Locust Park consists of an open play area and a shaded picnic area. The 1.795-acre (7,260 m2) Loftin Park consists of open green space. The 2.547-acre (10,310 m2) Mulberry Park at 700 Mulberry Lane includes a playground area, a picnic shelter, a youth baseball field, and three lighted tennis courts. The 6.6-acre (27,000 m2) Paseo Park along Bellaire Boulevard includes an esplanade, the Bellaire Trolley and the Special Event area. The 7-acre (28,000 m2) Pin Oak Park along the West Loop South (610 Loop) includes two lighted baseball fields, one lighted soccer and American football field, one jogging track, and three basketball/tennis courts. The 4.1-acre (17,000 m2) Russ Pitman Park includes the Henshaw House, the Nature Discovery Area, a playground area, a sheltered picnic area, a self-guided nature trail, two pavilions, and an aviary. The dedication ceremony of the future Evelyn's Park was held on June 25, 2011.
As of 1996 Bellaire prohibits smoking in public parks and dogs in all non-dog public parks; as of that year smoking in public parks brings a fine of $500. The ordinance was adopted around 1996 on a 4-3 vote.
The Bellaire Buzz is a monthly magazine about people, products and services in the community. It is mailed free of charge to all residents the first week of each month. The Houston Chronicle is the area regional newspaper. Residents receive the Bellaire/West U/River Oaks/Meyerland local section. The Village News and Southwest News is the oldest local paper currently published in Bellaire; offices are at 5160 Spruce Street. The Bellaire Examiner is a newspaper also distributed free to residents.BellaireConnect.com is a community web site for Bellaire and its surrounding neighborhoods.InstantNewsBellaire.com is an online newspaper covering the Bellaire community. Bellaire Essentials is an informational community magazine that is delivered monthly to all homes in the city.
Notable locations in this zip code not listed on our city pages:
Notable locations in zip code 77401: Bellaire Fire Department (A), Bellaire City Hall (B), Bellaire Municipal Court Clerk's Office (C), Bellaire Chamber of Commerce (D). Display/hide their locations on the map
Shopping Centers: Bellaire Triangle Shopping Center (1), Cedar Bellaire Shopping Center (2), El Camino Shopping Center (3), Meyerland Court Shopping Center (4). Display/hide their locations on the map
Churches in zip code 77401 include: Bellaire First Baptist Church (A), Bellaire Presbyterian Church (B), Bellaire United Methodist Church (C), Congregation Brith Shalom (D), Faith American Lutheran Church (E), Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Church of Houston (F), Incarnate Word Convent (G), Bellaire Church of the Nazarene (H). Display/hide their locations on the map
Parks in zip code 77401 include: Lafayette Park (1), Russ Pitman Park (2), Field Park (3), Candace U Simmons Track and Field Complex (4), Episcopal High School Softball Field (5), George R Brown Field (6), Bellaire High School Football Field (7), Crum Field House (8), Bellaire High School Baseball Field (9).Display/hide their locations on the map