Before the turn of the century, it was assumed that growth in Calgary would be to the south of the downtown core. The river formed a natural barrier that made northern access both difficult and expensive, and the land north of the Bow was left in its natural state: unplanned, undeveloped, and unserviced.
In the early 1900s, the original settlers in the areas known as Bridgeland and Riverside were attracted by the lack of services, since they were not required to pay municipal taxes. Land and housing were therefore extremely affordable. Most of the original settlers were Russian-German, Ukrainian, or Italian immigrants who worked at low-paying jobs in the iron works or the breweries. The area was also one of Calgary's original red-light districts, home to several brothels.
When the Langevin Bridge made access easier, and the communities were brought into the city with the annexations of 1907 and 1910, the brothels moved to the undeveloped Nose Creek valley, and schools, hospitals, and other facilities were built in Bridgeland and Riverside. The communities retained their strong ethnic associations to this day.