The Bridgeland inner-city community was established in the 1880s by immigrants moving to the area.
By 1903 it was incorporated as a village and then annexed by the City of Calgary in 1910.
Over the years, the community has grown because of its proximity to the downtown core and it has evolved to meet the changing demographics in the city and in the neighbourhood.
The vibrant community today is one of the most sought-after ones in the city for homebuyers and people who want to live in the neighbourhood.
Davide Gallo, a realtor with RE/MAX Real Estate (Central), specializes in the neighbourhood and he’s also built houses in Bridgeland. His family has had restaurants in Bridgeland. He met his wife there and his in-laws still live in the community.
“I know a lot of vendors that are still operating in Bridgeland. I grew up there my whole life. We had a pizzeria on Edmonton Trail and 1st Avenue. When I was 11 I was working there at a young age. It’s been my stomping grounds,” says Gallo.
“I can honestly say, I kind of compare it to the Marda Loop, Kensington areas, where it’s become really a very young and trendy neighbourhood. A lot of young professionals. Walking all over the place. Great walkability. The transit obviously being present in the community is a big plus for a lot of people that work downtown.
“Some of the old heritage houses are being restored but a lot of them are coming down unfortunately and we’re seeing a lot of new contemporary style homes. Just a lot of new, young vibrant life with the actual people that are moving into the actual businesses that are opening. A lot of new ideas in regards to the food industry. It’s done a major transition. Little Italy, a lot of immigrants, a lot of little old war houses, to now being very vibrant. Just a whole new beginning happening there.
“It keeps growing into what I would say is almost the new Kensington of Calgary.”
The popular 1st Avenue N.E. has become a great area to walk from Edmonton Trail to its eastern limit near the Bridgeland Market with numerous stores and shops along the way. It’s also a quick walk into the downtown and into the newer East Village area.
And Bridgeland has become a key housing destination for people looking for all sorts of different home options from single-detached, to attached, to condo apartments.
Tony Nicastro, another realtor from RE/MAX Real Estate (Central) who has done business in the Bridgeland neighbourhood for about 20 years, also has personal connections to the community like Gallo.
“My grandfather was the first Italian store down in Bridgeland,” he says. “It was right on 1st Avenue . . . That was 40-50 years ago.
“We didn’t have a house there. We had a business there but it was the same thing. We were there from morning to night.”
Nicastro says the neighbourhood has changed so much from that time.
“I listed a condo there the other day and I was talking to these people that were inquiring about the property and I remember my grandfather driving there saying ‘you watch, Bridgeland one day is going to be so beautiful’. We were trying to figure out where the hospital was (the General which was demolished years ago). Now all the food and restaurants that are there and all the vibrant people that have come in there. So lots of change happening there,” he says.
Nicastro says 1st Avenue has turned into a very trendy place to eat with many good restaurants. The neighbourhood also has many mature trees. The landscape is beautiful.
“There’s a lot of new builds coming in there now. I wouldn’t say it’s just one thing (about Bridgeland). It’s just the lifestyle,” says Nicastro, adding there’s a mix of housing options for people from $5 million homes on the ridge to bungalows for $600,000-$700,000 as well as all the condos.
“The good thing you see is the community has done a good job of keeping people there and connecting and keeping a vibrant, young association down in Bridgeland. They’re keeping people down there. There’s a walking crowd and a seating area there . . . People don’t really need to leave Bridgeland no more.”
(Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran of the media industry for more than 40 years and named in 2021 a Top Ten Business Journalist in the world and only Canadian)