As one of the oldest inner-city neighbourhoods, Garneau was considered to be fully developed when it became part of the City of Edmonton in 1912. Since that time, the continuing expansion of the adjacent University of Alberta and the development of the Whyte (82nd) Avenue commercial area have helped change the neighbourhood's residential makeup. Single-unit housing has been renovated or replaced by townhouses and apartments. University student housing and fraternity houses are located in northwest Garneau.

The neighbourhood contains a significant number of commercial businesses located along 109th Street, Whyte Avenue, and 112th Street. Most goods and services are available in the neighbourhood or in nearby Old Strathcona. Residents of Garneau also have good access to most areas of Edmonton, including Downtown via the High Level and Walterdale Bridges, and the North Saskatchewan River Valley.

Garneau is named for Laurence Garneau, an early settler in the area.

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