McCauley is located east of downtown Edmonton. This triangle-shaped neighbourhood is bounded by the CNR right-of-way to the south and by two major roadways (101st Street and Norwood Boulevard) to the west and north.

In 1892, Edmonton was incorporated as a town with a population of approximately 700. At the time, most people resided in Ross Flats or in the area east of 101st Street, near Jasper Avenue. The McCauley area was largely subdivided, but the neighbourhood experienced little development until the new century.

In 1905, Edmonton was incorporated as a city, and in 1908, a streetcar line was started. By 1912, the northeastern extension of the line ran through the heart of McCauley. With the streetcar line in place, development in McCauley soon followed. Redevelopment later occurred due to the neighbourhood's close proximity to Edmonton's central business district.

The neighbourhood is still predominantly residential, but there is competition for space between commercial and industrial land uses. In addition, several major roadways pass through the neighbourhood, and each attracts diverse commercial uses. A portion of 95th Street has several businesses with an Italian or Portuguese flavour, and many businesses along 97th Street have a Chinese character. Other notable land uses are McCauley's many churches and the Commonwealth Stadium.

McCauley was named in honour of Edmonton’s first mayor, the colourful Matthew McCauley.