Riverdale’s location has had a unique influence on its development. The neighbourhood is approximately one kilometre east of City Hall. It is bounded to the south and east by the North Saskatchewan River, and to the west and north by the river valley escarpment. Settlers arriving in the 1880s were quick to develop this large, flat area, which had good access to the river and was just over a mile downstream from Fort Edmonton.

In 1883, D. R. Fraser (Riverdale was earlier known as Fraser’s Flats) purchased land south of 101st Avenue and established a lumber mill at the bottom of Cameron Avenue. Nearby, a brickyard began operation. The coal used by both the mill and the brickyard was mined out of the cliffs that overlook Riverdale. The Dawson Mines, located across the river and near the Riverside Golf Course, employed a number of Riverdale residents until its closure in 1944.

In 1915, Edmonton experienced a severe flood. The full force of the flood was prevented from sweeping across the whole of Riverdale by the height of the river bank on the neighbourhood’s southern boundary. No houses were lost, but many structures suffered damage.

Today, Riverdale remains distinct from other inner-city neighbourhoods in that much of its original character has been retained. Some redevelopment is occurring in the neighbourhood, but the cottage-type homes, the small church, and the brick school lend a turn-of-the-century atmosphere to Riverdale.