Parkdale’s eclectic mix of real estate options ranges from grand Victorian mansions to high-rise low rent apartment buildings. This plethora of housing options has resulted in Parkdale having one of the most diverse demographics of any Toronto neighbourhood.

The Parkdale Community Watch recently received an award as the best neighbourhood watch group. This award was presented by the International Society of Crime Prevention.

The Parkdale neighbourhood possesses many positive attributes. It has some of Toronto’s most vibrant shopping districts, wonderful tree lined streets, affordable Victorian homes, and impressive mansions that remind onlookers that Parkdale was once Toronto’s wealthiest district. Parkdale is also within walking distance of Toronto’s waterfront parks.

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Faces in the crowd

Jameson Avenue in West Toronto stretches from the pedestrian walkway at Lakeshore Blvd. to the hustle and bustle of Queen Street West. It’s a wide boulevard lined with walk-up and high-rise apartment buildings. Parkdale Collegiate, one of Toronto’s oldest high schools, is located along this route.

The wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks are lined with street planters designed to enhance the streetscape and return Jameson Avenue to the prominence it enjoyed from the mid-1800s to early 1900s, when Parkdale was one of Toronto’s elite neighbourhoods.

The street planters — over 70 of them — were recently enhanced with over 560 photographs imprinted on their concrete bases. These include black-and-white photos of past and current residents, as well as archival images from the neighbourhood.

This project, known as Impressions, is one of North America’s largest outdoor street photo installations. This street gallery was created by artist Jim Bravo and photographer Kate Young, with enthusiastic participation from local residents. Impressions was coordinated by Mural Routes, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing communities through public art murals. Support was also provided by the city of Toronto Public Realm Section – Transportation Services. The featured photos are lively and entertaining and bring a sense of community to the streetscape. It is this type of initiative that is helping to revitalize the Parkdale neighbourhood.

Concrete planters that line the streets of Parkdale now feature photos of the neighbourhood and its residents.

A little history…

Parkdale’s history began in the late 1800’s when it was an elite residential suburb, that rivaled Rosedale as Toronto’s most desirable address. Parkdale’s popularity led to its incorporation as a village in 1878. Then in 1889, after many heated public debates, Parkdale’s citizens voted in favour of amalgamation with the City of Toronto.

Parkdale, became Toronto’s playground by the lake in 1922, when the Sunnyside Amusement Park and Bathing Pavilion opened for business on Parkdale’s beaches. Sunnyside was the place to be and be seen for a generation of Torontonians.

In 1956, Sunnyside was shut down by the city in order to make room for the Gardiner Expressway and a revamped Lake Shore Boulevard. Unfortunately, these new expressways cut Parkdale off from the lake and its glorious past. Parkdale then went into a period of decline. At present Parkdale is once again emerging as a prominent Toronto neighbourhood and a new chapter in the history of this grand old neighbourhood is being written.