Some call it Cowtown and some call it C-town. A lot of people call it Stampede City, and for good reason! But whatever you choose to call it, we’re sure you’ll find plenty to like about the “Heart of the New West,” a.k.a. Calgary.
As Canada’s third largest city — located near the wide open, spacious plains of Alberta — Calgary sprawls out and covers a pretty expansive area, more than 800 square kilometres in total. That’s quite a lot of space for a city of about 1.2 million people. So if you’re moving here, or even just visiting, you’ll want to begin to familiarize yourself with some of the neighbourhoods of Calgary. And that’s no small feat, because the last time they counted (in 2012), Alberta’s largest city officially had 198 different neighbourhoods, in addition to 41 industrial areas.
Of course, we’re not going to list them all here; that would be silly. If you really need to view the comprehensive listing, you can check it out at Wikipedia. For now, we’re just going to cover a dozen or so of the most important neighbourhoods of Calgary, and provide you with a general overview of the city.
Let’s start at the center. Crowded with stately skyscrapers, downtown Calgary comprises one of the densest city centers in North America, and includes five distinct neighbourhoods.
- Downtown West End is a high density residential community on the south side of the Bow River.
- Downtown East Village is a mixed use area that fell into disrepair in the 1980s and 90s, but has since been the focus of a major $2.7 billion revitalization project that has transformed the neighbourhood with moderns buildings and luxury condominiums.
- Eau Claire, immediately north of downtown but south of the river, features a mix of residential high-rises, retail, restaurants and charming outdoors parks and plazas.
- Chinatown, immediately north of the East Village, is home to the Chinese Cultural Center, modeled after the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
- Beltline (including Connaught and Victoria Park), immediately south of downtown, is one of the most densely populated parts of the city, and also home to some of the best restaurants and most stimulating nightlife.
- Also, three unofficial districts that are considered part of down Calgary, include the Stephen Avenue Retail Core, the Entertainment District, and the Government District.
Surrounding the downtown core is another patchwork of communities considered the inner city; bordered by Sarcee Trail to the west, Glenmore Trail to the south, Bow River and Deerfoot trail to the east, and Bow River and 32 Avenue to the north. The inner city, as well as the outlying areas of Calgary, are generally divided into four quadrants: northwest, northeast, southeast and southwest. Here are few of more notable neighborhoods and communities in the inner city and beyond.
- Forest Lawn, in the SE quadrant, is split down the middle by multicultural 17th Avenue, and is part of the International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ), which offers some of the most diverse ethnic food, cultural festivals and urban murals in North America.
- Marda Loop, another BRZ, mostly within the neighbourhoods of Richmond and South Calgary, is a very pedestrian-friendly part of town and hosts the not-to-be-missed Marda Gras street festival every August.
- Bridgeland, formerly Germantown, but sometimes also known as “Little Italy”, sits just northeast of downtown, and has recently earned a well-deserved reputation as THE neighbourhood to find a good breakfast.
- Fourth Street, within the Mission and Cliff Bungalow neighbourhoods, was once a French-speaking community of Calgary, but now features a great selection of multicultural cuisine from a wide array of trendy restaurants, as well as a great Lilac Festival in June.
- Inglewood, centered around 9th Avenue SE and comprising several blocks to east of downtown and the Elbow River, was Calgary’s original Main Street, and today is packed with unique shops, restaurants and live music venues.
- Kensington, another BRZ, within the Hillhurst and Sunnyside neighbourhoods, is filled with historic landmarks and happens to be one of the most walkable parts of the city.
Are you thinking of moving to Calgary and want to know more about the city? ARIANNE’s Online Relocation Guides can help with that too!
Or do you have a favorite part of town that we overlooked? Let us know in the comments section. We always love to hear from you!
Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Stephen Avenue, in downtown Calgary’s entertainment district)