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Situated on the southern shores of Belleville Lake, a man-made lake in southwest Wayne County, in the southeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, the City of Belleville is surrounded by Van Buren Township.

Now the principal geographic feature of the city, Belleville Lake was created in 1925 when the Eastern Michigan Edison Company constructed the French Landing Dam and Powerhouse along the Huron River, submerging the small community of Rawsonville in the process. Today, the city's traditional downtown district is nestled along the shores of the lake, which is used for boating and fishing.

The city is primarily accessed by Belleville Road, Denton Road, Huron River Drive, Savage Road, and Sumpter Road, although Belleville Road connects to I-94, just north of the city. Romulus is 7.0 miles east of the city, while Ypsilanti is 9.6 miles west, Wayne is 10.5 miles northeast, Plymouth is 12.7 miles north, and Milan is 18.8 miles southwest. Belleville is a suburb of Metro Detroit, with the City of Detroit less than thirty miles to the north-northeast.

Prior to the arrival of European and European-American settlers in the early 19th century, the area had been inhabited by various Native American tribes. At one time, the Cahokia, one of the five tribes that comprised the Illinois Indian Confederacy, is believed to have had a large settlement there, while the Tammarois was a little farther to the southeast. By the time that European-American settlers arrived, the Cahokias had been displaced by other Native American tribes and eventually absorbed by the Kaskaskia and the Peoria people.

Among the first to arrive were Archibald Fleming, Samuel McNath, and his two adult sons, who came in 1826. A post office was established on March 13, 1844, with Lorton Holden as postmaster. A village was platted by George D. Hill, Daniel L. Quirk, and R.P. Clark in 1847 and 1848, including the main thoroughfares that are used today, designated Main Street, Liberty Street, and High Street.

In 1881, the Wabash Railroad established a Belleville depot on its Detroit line, offering passenger service to the community. In 1905, Belleville was incorporated as a village and became a city on May 14, 1946. The city was named for the French word meaning "beautiful town" but its name was also intended to honor an early landowner, James Bell.

As with many Michigan towns, its economy was initially based largely on lumber, with sawmills situated along the shores of the Huron River. Once the woodlands were depleted, their absence cleared the way for farmland, industry, and an expanding population. Belleville hosts an annual event known as the National Strawberry Festival, which draws visitors from all over the county and beyond.

The focus of this category is on the City of Belleville. Resources that are appropriate here will include websites representing the city or any of its departments or programs, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, or events.


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