Downsview is one of Toronto's largest neighbourhoods. There is a large Italian community clustered along Keele Street, and a large Jewish community is around Bathurst Street & Wilson Avenue. The community is centered around the former Canadian Forces Base, now a park known as the Downsview Lands which are currently being redeveloped to mix public parkland (Pope Jean Paul recently held Mass here), housing, commercial use, and sports & entertainment features. The community was named by 1842 settler John Perkins Bull, who named his farm "Down's View" for its elevation over the rest of Toronto. Long an agricultural community, but in 1928 the De Havilland Aircraft Company built a factory, and was soon followed by the Armed Forces who built a major base for World War II, which was operational into the early 1970s when nearby housing encroached too near for safety and for quiet.
The community has great access to Highway 401 and 400. TTC buses along Sheppard and connects to the Downsview station on the Spadina-University subway line (where you can connect to York Region VIVA buses), buses along Finch connect to the Yonge street subway line (where you can connect to other VIVA buses or the eastward Sheppard RT line) and busses along Keele, Dufferin, and Bathurst connect to the Bloor-Danforth subway line.
The community is served by 7 public elementary schools, 2 catholic elementary schools, public high schools, and 2 public libraries. The community is just south of York University on Steeles, and a few miles east (along Finch)of Humber College's North Campus , and University of Toronto is accessible via the Spadina-University-Yonge subway line.
Along Wilson Avenue and Bathurst Streets are shopping district with many Jewish gift shops, bakeries and restaurants. Downsview has a number of shopping malls, including North York Sheridan Mall (Jane Street & Wilson Avenue), Downsview Plaza (Keele Street & Wilson), Lawrence Square (Lawrence Avenue West & the Allen Expressway), and the landmark Yorkdale Shopping Centre (Dufferin & Highway 401)
The community has access to a 5 km paved recreational trail that runs from Black Creek Pioneer Village to Downsview Dells park. Along the northwest of the community are the West Don parklands and recreational pathways. The Downsview Lands, at Keele Street & Sheppard Avenue, is becoming one of Toronto's largest parks and has baseball, soccer and running facilities. Downsview Dells has open and treed parklands, picnic areas and a great toboggan hill at its west end. The neighbourhood has 6 tennis courts, 3 ice arenas, 1 indoor pool, 2 outdoor pools, 3 running tracks, and a lawn bowling facility
Black Creek Pioneer Village is a restored Confederation-era village with costumed interpreters. Along Bathurst are Jewish cultural theatres and museums. There are movie theatres at Yorkdale and North York Sheridan Malls.
Most homes in Downsview were built in the 1950s and 60s and were ether detached, semi-detached and split-level houses, all with driveways. Many residential streets back onto parkland, one was built on top of a former golf course, and off Wilson Heights Boulevard are newer custom-built homes. Homes in Downsview are in the low to mid price ranges.