A hundred years ago or so, Parkdale was one of the city of Toronto's most affluent neighbourhoods; truly an area where the young city's elite chose to live. The popular waterfront playground built nearby, Sunnyside Amusement Park, even drew comparisons to Coney Island. These halcyon days took a downturn with the building of the Gardiner Expressway which severed South Parkdale's access to the lake, Sunnyside closed down and many of the high-class citizenry decided to hightail it. Property values began to dwindle and the proud mansions fell into a state of disrepair. Slowly but surely though, something started to happen in the last twenty years, shops and galleries started appearing on this section of Queen Street, old hotels such as The Drake and The Gladstone were transformed into hip urban night spots and property values began to rise in the once grand neighbourhood of South Parkdale.
Traces of the proud past of grand old Parkdale can still be found in some homes. It is not uncommon to stumble across detached three-storey Victorian mansions with five or more bedrooms. The creative buyer will be pleased to know that there are examples with their original details still intact. There are many other options however, with low-rise apartment buildings, condos, and townhouses to add to the variety. North of Queen, homes are of the smaller scale and are dotted with semi-detacheds but there is some variety in the types of homes offered here as well.
In South Parkdale you are never far from the waterfront and the parks that line the shore. Families can sit for a picnic or barbecue, take a stroll or jog down the shoreline exercise trail. High Park is also within walking distance with all of its great green space. The Palais Royale theatre has been a premiere performance space for over 80 years and in its past has seen the likes of Count Basie and Duke Ellington play on its stage. It has recently been restored and brought back to its former glory. It is not just a ballroom but rather a function space for weddings, banquets as well. Parkdale has four community centres with many programs and activities for young and old. There are also two libraries: the Parkdale Public Library on Queen Street and the High Park Public Library on Roncesvalles.
South Parkdale has three public schools: Queen Victoria, Howard and Gordon Avenue. Fern Avenue and Parkdale are combined junior and senior schools. Bloor Collegiate is a public high school and Hope Family and St. Veronica are separate catholic schools. The International Society of Crime Prevention recently awarded the Parkdale Community Watch an award as an outstanding neighbourhood watch group. This community spirit was also shown in a recent street art project that enhanced the street planters on the sidewalk with over 560 photographs of past and current residents. Although it is no longer the postal code of Toronto's most affluent, South Parkdale is still a proud neighbourhood with many reasons to feel that way.