Willowdale is a popular residential community and business address. The area has luxury condos, a great shopping mall, and access to a civic centre and cultural facilities along Yonge Street. The area was first settled by Jacob Cummer following the end of the American Revolution, who was a mill owner, doctor and vet. Another notable resident was David Gibson, a leader of the 1837 rebellion who was exiled and engineered the Erie Canal before being pardoned in 1851 when he returned to open the Willow Dale post office. The modern community of Willowdale, with its great access to Yonge Street, was developed starting in the 1920s, and by the 1960s was a prized and mature community. The community is served by North York Branson Hospital, on Finch.
Motorists have access to Highway 401 via Yonge Street and via Bayview, which also provide access into downtown. TTC riders have excellent bus service along Sheppard and Finch connecting to the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line, and Bayview connecting to the Sheppard Rapid Transit line, east to Don Mills. At the Downsview subway station, transit riders can transfer to York Region Transit's Viva express routes to Vaughan, passing through York University. At the Finch subway station, transit riders can transfer to York Region Transit's Viva express routes serving Richmond Hill, Markham and Thornhill.
Willowdale is served by 6 elementary schools, and Jewish elementary school, 2 Catholic elementary schools, 3 public libraries, and Earl Haig Secondary School which has an regarded for tits academic and arts programs. Seneca College has a campus SE of Yonge & Sheppard. The community has quick access to York University via Viva express routes, from the Downsview subway station and to University of Toronto and Ryerson University via the Yonge-University-Spadina subway route.
The community has lots of shopping options, with lots of plazas along Yonge Street with a range of ethnic restaurants and shops, as well as the flagship CentrePoint Mall (Yonge Street and Steeles Avenue).
The community is home to the North York Civic Centre, adjacent to Mel Lastman Square west of Yonge, which has a world-class aquatic centre, a public library, the Toronto Centre for the Arts theatre complex, an amphitheatre, and reflecting pool (and wintertime outdoor skating rink), the Art Gallery of North York, and more. In addition to live theatre, the area has a number of movie multiplexes. The community is dotted with parks and playgrounds, and has 3 indoor pools, and outdoor pool, 3 ice arenas, 5 tennis courts, a lawn bowling club, several baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and 3 running tracks. Just south of Willowdale is the Earl Bales Park with ski hill and outdoor amphitheatre, and access to paved recreational pathways along the West Don River.
Most of Willowdale's homes were built from the 1920s (Edwardian and Tudor style houses) through to the 1950s (bungalows, split-level houses) as the community expanded west from Yonge. There are newer custom-built homes 9some in the 4,000 sq ft range), and luxury condos, apartment buildings and townhouses along Yonge street and close to the subway station. Home prices here range from low-medium to high-medium price ranges.