What does it mean to live in "East York"? Is it a neighbourhood, a borough, a township? Do we think of it as a city its own right? Or is it just another subset of Toronto? Well, it's certainly had a lengthy history of change in terms of its legal structure. Today, "East York" lives on in name only in the hearts of its residents, since it was amalgamated into the City of Toronto 20 years ago. But if you look back into the story of its development, it's easy to see why many people who live there consider themselves to be "East Yorkers" first and "Torontonians" second.
The first usage of "East York" as a legal entity occurred in 1924 when the eastern section was carved out of York Township to become the Township of East York. The residents voted 448 to 102 in favour of incorporating as a separate entity rather than joining up with the City of Toronto - an early indication that these people valued their independence and self-governance. The early settlers in the region were primarily working class immigrants from England. The region grew after World War II with returning soldiers and their expanding families occupying houses built by the government.
The Township of East York later amalgamated with the Town of Leaside to become the "Borough of East York". It was around this time that the southern boundary took on great significance. The sale of alcohol was prohibited for a number of years in East York and as a result, Danforth Avenue, just "over the border" in the City of Toronto, began to develop the restaurant and bar scene which continues to thrive today.
Today the former Borough of East York is a part of the megacity, following the 1998 amalgamation that swallowed it up along with Scarborough and North York, among others. And so the most common usage of "East York" these days is by its residents and home owners, particularly when describing where they live to people who are familiar with Toronto. From a Realtor's perspective, East York either refers to the large area that includes a bunch of neighbourhoods from Leaside and Bennington Heights on the west side to Crescent Town and Topham Park to the east, or it means the much smaller area between Broadview and Woodbine, from the Danforth to O'Connor Drive - the East York neighbourhood of East York. So if you're looking for real estate in East York, the first step is to decide - which East York?