The 1 Avenue NE main street runs between Edmonton Trail and 10 Street NE and is located in the northeast community of Bridgeland-Riverside. The street is set on top of a steep plain that overlooks the north and east ends of downtown Calgary.
The character of 1 Avenue NE is largely influenced by the immigrant groups who settled in the area at the turn of the 20th Century. The area south of 1 Avenue NE was once known as ‘Germantown’ for the influx of German emigrants from Russia in the late 1800s. The area was later named Riverside for its river location.
In 1909, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Land Department filed the Bridgeland subdivisions, where the first small wave of Calgary’s ethnic Italians settled. The Frederick Olmsted firm was commissioned to design a garden suburb on the sloping terrain, which resulted in the area’s distinctive views. A second influx of Italians in 1920 found employment with nearby industrial employers and also settled in Bridgeland.
Italian restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores continued to grow and peaked in the 1980s, earning 1 Avenue the nickname, Little Italy. In the early 1990s, plans were made to give 1 Avenue NE a European Village feel, by preserving specialty retail shops at street level and European cultural elements such as signage, flags and murals.
Today, the streets surrounding 1 Avenue NE reflect the area’s working class roots and consist of modest, one to two storey Edwardian style cottages and bungalows. A number of historic institutional buildings also exist on 1 Avenue NE like the Riverside Bungalow School No.2 and the Bridgeland Baptist Church, as well as a historic pattern of storefront retail at street level.