Thirty years ago, I began my realtor career at an office on the Danforth. In those days, it was the newest up-and-coming area, and my first few years were spent cutting my teeth in prime Riverdale and Leslieville, although we called them Cabbagetown Two at the time — a tribute to the number of Victorian houses found south of Gerrard. The housing closer to the Danforth tends to be mostly Edwardian in design, but the homes are larger and on bigger lots, with some parking.
The large Riverdale neighbourhood is enclosed by the Don River Valley to the west, the GO Train tracks and Greenwood Avenue to the east, Lake Shore Boulevard to the south, and Danforth Avenue on the north. But Riverdale is known to cover a wider area and include smaller communities within it — like Riverside, marketed as “Toronto’s food and culture hot spot.” Riverdale is considered the east side of the downtown core, and by locals, it's frequently just called “The Danforth.”
Riverdale Park was going to be home to a 40,000-seat stadium in the 1970s, which is now the SkyDome, but the plan was cut in part because of strong objections from former Mayor John Sewell.
In 2013, the W. Garfield Weston Foundation made a $25 million donation to provide funds for the Riverdale Farm to stay open.
In the 1950s, the Grand Trunk Railway brought people and industry to Riverdale, including labourers who built their homes in the area south of the tracks. The railway system operated in Ontario, Quebec, and several American states, and it was built to run between Toronto and Montreal. The northern area of Riverside, as it was still called at the time, wasn’t widely developed until 1884, when the City of Toronto annexed it. But it still wasn’t really connected with the rest of the city until 1918, when the city built the Prince Edward Viaduct Bridge. Riverdale entered a phase of great development at that point.
Homes, Architecture, and Real Estate
I've watched the renovation bug flourish both north and south of the Danforth, driven by amenities for families like great public schools such as Jackman and Withrow. A property that sold a few decades ago was originally $200,000 and is now more than $1,000,000 — so we have come up! The residential areas of Riverdale consist of mostly Victorian and Edwardian-style houses constructed in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Driving along the residential streets now, you can see that these older homes have been made into ideal homes for young and growing families in Toronto, with nicely manicured streets. However, the increase of price tag of the homes these days makes it difficult for some young families to buy in the area, unless they've owned property in the city already and are relocating to the area.
Who Is Your Neighbour?
Riverdale is an extremely multicultural area, with neighbourhoods like Greek Town consisting of many Greek restaurants and residents, and East Chinatown, with its Asian shops and restaurants. It's home to many young families who appreciate the many schools, parks, and cultural centres in the area, and who would like to be part of a growing and established community. It's closely located to the downtown core, with very easy access to everything you could need. This attracts young couples and professionals, but it's still residential enough to make a home for yourself for years to come.
Parks and Green Spaces
Riverdale is home to one of the largest green spaces in the city, Riverdale Park. Just on the edge of Broadview Avenue lies Riverdale Park, with its three baseball diamonds, skating rink, swimming pool, tennis courts, running track, and ton of great spots for families — including a movie night during the summer. It's 104 acres of beautiful land that edges Riverdale Farm, a municipally operated farm maintained by Toronto Parks.
In addition to Riverdale Park, there are these other green spaces.
- Withrow Park at 725 Logan Avenue, which has another ice rink, baseball diamonds, children’s play structures, and a soccer field, as well as an off-leash dog area for pet owners.
- Jimmy Simpson Park at 870 Queen Street, which contains tennis courts and a community centre hosting youth activities like swimming and fitness programs.
- Kempton Howard Park (formerly East View Park) is located on the southwest corner of Strathcona Avenue and Blake Street and hosts baseball games as well as has an outdoor wading pool and a playground.
Recreation and Culture
There are a few places of worship in the area, including Riverdale Presbyterian Church (662 Pape Avenue), Holy Name Parish (71 Gough Avenue), Calvary Church (746 Pape Avenue), and Glen Rhodes United Church (1470 Gerrard Street East).
Schools, Colleges, and Universities
- Riverdale Collegiate Institute is the neighbourhood's local high school, 1094 Gerrard Street E, (416) 393-9820
- Earl Grey Senior Public School is the area's local middle school, grades 7–8, 100 Strathcona Avenue, (416) 393-9545
- Quest Alternative School, 25 Bain Avenue, (416) 393-9430
- East Alternative School of Toronto, 21 Boultbee Avenue, (416) 393-8442
- Withrow Avenue Junior Public School, 25 Bain Avenue, (416) 393-9440
- Jackman Avenue Junior Public School, 79 Jackman Avenue, (416) 393-9710
- Frankland Community School, 816 Logan Avenue, (416) 393-9720
- Holy Name Catholic School, 690 Carlaw Avenue, (416) 393-5215
- Montcrest School, 4 Montcrest Boulevard, (416) 469-2008
Arts and Entertainment
The Riverdale area has developed an identity for supporting the independent arts, and there are many nearby galleries along Queen Street East like Ben Navaee Gallery (1107 Queen Street E) or Pentimento Fine Art Gallery (1164 Queen Street E), as well as House Of Moments on Carlaw Avenue which is a restaurant, event venue, and art gallery all in one. The Toronto Operetta Theatre is also near the area at 947 Queen Street E, and the Danforth Music Hall is in the heart of Riverdale at 147 Danforth Avenue. There's a lot to choose from as far as arts and entertainment in the Riverdale area — so much so that every night of the week can be filled with something new and exciting if you want.
The Danforth is known for its unique shops and independently owned cafés or restaurants. There are a lot of multicultural influences, making for one of the most important areas in the city to find that something special. Due to the "foodie" trend that has hit the east side, in addition to amazing restaurants, Riverdale has a lot of specialty health food stores or indie eco-friendly shops. A bit farther south is Gerrard Square, which has over 55 stores — including all your retail favourites like Walmart, Winners, and the Home Depot.
What would Riverdale be without its great diversity of nationalities and the confirmed "foodies" that live in the area? Where else could you find wonderful fruits and vegetables, Alex Farm cheeses (377 Danforth Avenue), Sweet Touth Desserts (508 Danforth Avenue), and the best assortment of tastes of the world in such a concentrated area? The big problem is figuring out where to go first.
Riverdale is also home to the yearly weekend celebration in August, Taste of the Danforth, one of the country’s largest street fairs that celebrates — you guessed it — food and shopping. A short drive gets you to Little India options like Siddhartha (1450 Gerrard Street E), Chinese Dim Sum at River Seafood at Pearl Court (633 Gerrard Street E), Vietnamese fare at Mi Mi (688 Gerrard Street E), French food at Batifole (744 Gerrard Street E), or the pan-Asian supermarket T and T (Cherry Street, south of Lakeshore).
The Toronto Transit Commission has developed several subway stations in the Riverdale area along the Danforth as part of its Bloor-Danforth subway line. From West to East, these include Broadview Station (at Broadview Avenue), Chester Station (at Jackman Avenue), Pape Station (at Pape Avenue), Donlands Station (at Donlands Avenue), and Greenwood Station (at Greenwood Avenue). Busses run from each of these stations south to Lakeshore Boulevard, and on the southernmost border of Riverdale, you can see the GO Train tracks running from Union Station to Danforth GO Station in the East End. These tracks run east-west all the way from Aldershot to Oshawa, passing right through Riverdale on the way.
Medical Centres and Doctors
The nearest hospitals are Toronto East General Hospital (825 Coxwell Avenue, 416-461-8272) and St. Michael’s Hospital (30 Bond Street, 416-360-4000).
Other doctors' offices and medical centres in the immediate area include:
- Albany Medical Clinic, 807 Broadview Avenue, (416) 461-9471
- Dr. Susan Hu, 379 Danforth Avenue, 2nd floor, (416) 466-2988)
- Toronto Police Station 51 Division, 51 Parliament Street, 416-808-5100
- Toronto Police Station 55 Division, 101 Coxwell Avenue, 416-808-5500
- Toronto Fire Station 322, 256 Cosburn Avenue
- Toronto Fire Station 323, 153 Chatham Avenue
- Toronto Fire Station 324, 840 Gerrard Street East
- Toronto Fire Station 326, 30 Knox Avenue