Riverdale is the gateway to Toronto’s east-end neighbourhoods. It is a large and diverse community that is especially well known for its colourful shopping districts and quaint Victorian homes. This is a high density urban neighbourhood that is also blessed with an abundant of parkland where one can escape the hustle and bustle of big city living. Riverdale Park to the West is one of the largest green spaces in the city. It’s steep hills are a favourite of tobogganers. Withrow Park to the East is a neighbourhood hub and meeting place with a popular farmers market. Top ranked schools, great shopping and convenient access to transit have attracted many families to this popular neighbourhood.
Riverdale was a small rural community until the Grand Trunk Railway began steaming through here in the 1850’s. The railway brought industry and employment opportunities to Riverdale. It also attracted a pool of labourers who built the first homes in Riverdale, south of the railway tracks.
North of Queen Street Riverdale remained largely undeveloped until 1884 when it was annexed by the City of Toronto. At that time Riverdale was called Riverside. The name was probably changed to Riverdale as a reference to the city park of the same name, that has long been a landmark in this area.
Riverdale’s development was accelerated in 1918 with the building of Toronto’s largest bridge, the Prince Edward Viaduct. The Viaduct provided Riverdale with an important link to the City of Toronto, west of the Don River, and marked a coming of age for this popular Toronto neighbourhood.
**The Toronto neighbourhood text profiles, sketches and maps displayed on this web site were originally published in “Your Guide to Toronto Neighbourhoods”, by © Maple Tree Publishing Inc. and are also available on www.torontoneighbourhoods.net