Riverdale has got a moniker as one of the awesome places to live in Toronto, located at the east side of Don River and the north side of Lake Ontario. This neighborhood with its excellent parks and shops and restaurants is so charming for both old and young couples to live in.
The beautiful view of Riverdale neighborhood is much blessed with its plenty of parklands and wonderful Victorian houses. It also has top ranked schools and easy access to public transit. In recent years, this neighbourhood has been one of the hottest areas of Toronto’s real estate market.
History of Riverdale
In 1850’s, the Grand Trunk Railway brought so many industrial and job opportunities to the Riverdale neighborhood. Many laborers working in the area, started to build their first houses there. Those days, this neighborhood was still called Riverside. Later, it probably borrowed the name of the most famous landmark of the area, Riverdale Park.
After building the Queen Street bridge in 1911 and the Prince Edward Viaduct in 1919 (Toronto’s largest bridge), this cozy neighborhood has thrived with new connections to the heart of the city.
Demography of Riverdale
By 1961, Riverdale neighborhood still had its British roots. It means until then, 81% of Riverdale’s population included English, Irish and Scottish residents. After 1961, many Italian migrated and settled in Danforth east and many Greek immigrants came to the North Riverdale.
By 1993, the predominant presence of Greek taste and culture had founded the Greek Town at the Danforth east of Hampton. But now this neighborhood is mostly known as its multicultural population. There are still some Greek restaurants, while new Asian restaurants and shops have been since 2002. These days Riverdale is a combination of Greek, Chinese, Italian, African and Vietnamese.
Architecture of Riverdale
During 1880 and 1924, many two story Victorian houses were built in Riverdale. The streets of Riverdale have the beauty of the rich history and heritage of the neighborhood. Most old houses have been renovated. There are still some older, smaller and less expensive houses in the South Riverdale area.
Most of Riverdale’s homes are Victorian and Edwardian style homes with rear laneways. So there is parking lots available for residents as street parking. There are some famous old buildings dating back to the 1800s, like Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, Broadview Hotel or Riverdale Zoo.
Bridgepoint Active Healthcare
This hospital is located right next to the Don River including the old building of Don Jail and a newly constructed building. The old building was constructed in 1860 as a House of Refuge for hobos and dunces. After the smallpox epidemic in 1875, it became a facility known as Riverdale Isolation Hospital. It was a house for the patients with communicable diseases.
In 1957, the hospital’s focus and mandate shifted to help chronic diseases and rehabilitation under the name of Riverdale Hospital. In 2003, the facility was modernized and renovated by a $200 million expansion project and became Bridgepoint Hospital. Now these two old and new buildings are connected by a glass walkway. Now it is a 10-storey and 404-bed facility for those who have ‘complex chronic diseases or multiple health conditions.
The primary building of Broadview Hotel was built in 1893 including a small hall with an office center. It was a small commercial hub and gathering spot. It has been renovated two times, in 1907 and 2017. Later, it was converted into a 58-bedroom boutique hotel with different restaurants and a distinctive rooftop bar. This Richardsonian Romanesque style building with arched windows and curved extended bricks has the significant characteristics of Toronto’s Victorian era.
Broadview Hotel also has two event spaces, a cafe/bar and two restaurants. This 128 year-old building with the rich historic past was a great gathering spot for many famous Torontonians, including politicians and athletic clubs.
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Best schools in Riverdale neighborhood
By reviewing the list of the best public schools in Toronto, as a Toronto real estate agent I can say Riverdale can be one of the best Toronto neighborhoods for families with children. Besides, the school scores in Riverdale are 6% higher than the national average in Canada.
The quality of elementary school and high school education in Riverdale has been approved by their top performance marks given by the Fraser Institute. The Pape Avenue Junior Public School as the 6th best school in TDSB, has received the Fraser Score of 9.7. There are also Bennington Heights Elementary school and Jackman Avenue Junior Public School with scores of 9.0.
There are also Queen Alexandra Middle School, Dundas Junior Public School, Greenwood Secondary School and SEED Alternative School. Your children have many options in the Riverdale neighborhood.
Things to do in Riverdale
Riverdale neighborhood with its diverse population, best schools and about 20 parks is a lovely family-friendly area. There are different types of entertainment, amenities and restaurants in the area. You can choose to study in Riverdale’s public library or watch theater shows at Streetcar Crowsnest. Besides, most of the parks in Riverdale have a wading pool, tennis courts and hockey rinks.
Cultural activities in Riverdale
Riverdale Public Library is a decent-sized building with a perfect collection of Chinese books and audio books. There are many books and toys for children too. This library provides quiet study rooms and computer sections for students. It also has good access to public transit. You can enjoy its charming environment and welcoming staff.
At Queen Street, you can find the Opera House. It originally started to work as the La Plaza Theatre in 1909. The architecture of Opera House still has all the charm of its original vaudeville theatre back to the 1900’s. The main floor has 3 bars and a gorgeous 900 sq. ft. stage with sound and lighting. There is another bar at the balcony with a more convenient environment and perfect view of the stage. The entertainment venue hosts many different types of events, like concerts, comedy shows, theatre performances, weddings, etc. You can perfectly enjoy the live music performance in different genres.
Riverdale Gallery is another proper place for social gatherings. It is located on the third floor of the community center building. This gallery tries to engage the art community using the power of art. Riverdale Gallery hosts many events, exhibitions and artistic and cultural projects, including Contact Photography Festival and Culture Days.
If you are a theatre lover, the Crow’s Theatre at the Streetcar Crowsnest has a great regular program of significant local performances. You can sip your high-quality coffee from the Gare De L’Est French bistro while the performers are stealing your heart and mind.
Where to eat in Riverdale
You can start your day with an Italian coffee at Frankie. They serve breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Enjoy the marvelous taste of fresh pizza and daily pasta specials. On the west side of Gerrard, a new restaurant was opened as Wynona with a cute terrace serving good natural wines and pastas.
You can also enjoy your meal with a terrific view of the newly renovated Rooftop restaurant at the Broadview Hotel. On top of this historic building you have the whole view of Queen Street, the Don River and Toronto’s skyline. They have both a terrace and indoor space. The quality of food and drinks is favorable.
Boxcar Social is another lovely place serving your coffee in the morning and stronger drinks for nights. They have different beverage programs and gift cards in a spacious place for hanging around.
If you are a wine lover, you better check Chez Nous wine bar. They serve local wines and brewed beer. For late-night persons, we suggest Pinkerton Snack Bar. They have a delicious Asian-inspired menu and they serve food until 1am. Or you can find a tasty pleasant smashed burger at Poor Romeo with an American inspired environment and Rock n Roll music.
Parks in Riverdale
Riverdale Park is the most famous park in the neighborhood located at the lower part of Don River in Toronto. This 104-acres park has a perfect view of downtown Toronto skyline. Riverdale Park East includes two Baseball fields, a running track, seven tennis courts and three multipurpose sports fields. It is also famous for its artificial outdoor ice rink and ball hockey pad. The northern part of the park is covered by native trees like maples and ash aged back to 1990.
In summer, you can enjoy the shades of trees in Riverdale Park, and in winter it would be a wonderful tobogganing hill.
Withrow Park and Clubhouse is a 8-acres land including two Baseball fields, two tennis courts, one volleyball court and a multipurpose sports field. You can enjoy spending time with your children at the playground or wading pool and walk your pet at the dog off-leash area. There is also 2.6 hectare Jimmie Simpson Park with a special Recreation Centre. This park also includes two lit tennis courts, a lit hockey rink, basketball courts, a wading pool and a playground for children.
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Riverdale neighborhood is one of the favorite neighborhoods in Toronto filled with huge parks and beautiful Victorian homes. The extended patios of restaurants and bars in the area makes it a perfect place for socializing and friendly gatherings.
Having some of the best schools in Toronto is one of its attractive characteristics for families with school age children. It also has perfect access to the public transit, so it’s the best location for commuters too. The excellent mix of trendy and traditional shoppings and colorful sidewalks with cozy restaurants in Riverdale have attracted many families to this lovely neighbourhood.