Belvidere is a city in Boone County, Illinois, United States. The population was 25,585 as of the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Boone County. Belvidere is part of the Rockford, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The location where Belvidere exists today was first settled in 1835 by Simon P. Doty and Mr. Whitney, who named the location next to the Kishwaukee River "Elysian Fields". Census figures show 37 residents in that year. Belvidere was originally built on the north side of the river. In 1851, a railroad was built south of the river, the business section followed to the south side of the river, where Belvidere's downtown is now located. Belvidere was home to the National Sewing Machine Company from 1886 until the 1940s.
On April 21, 1967, a devastating tornado struck Belvidere. Twenty-four lives were lost in the tornado, many of whom were school children. The F4 tornado struck at the end of the school day of Belvidere High School, while many children including those that attended area grade schools were waiting on school buses outside of the high school. Out of sixteen school buses outside of the high school, twelve were overturned or thrown. The tornado did US$ 22 million in damage, demolished over 100 homes, and injured over 300. In 2007 a statue was erected in front of Belvidere High School in memorial of the lives lost.
1969 Miss America
In 1969 Belvidere native Judith Anne Ford won the Miss America pageant as Miss Illinois. Ford was a Belvidere High School graduate. She was the first Miss America to go to Vietnam as part of a USO tour.
On December 7, 2009 there was an explosion at the NDK America building. A truck driver from Indiana at the nearby Illinois Tollway Commission-owned Belvidere Oasis was struck fatally by flying debris. The explosion's shock wave shook ceilings and doors in the area. No cause has been determined as of 2013.