During the 1960s, Edmonton experienced steady population growth, and the typical dwelling unit in the city was the single-detached home. Unfortunately, these structures could not be added to the market quickly or cheaply enough to satisfy the demand for dwelling units. Furthermore, because of their associated lower densities, single-detached houses tend to occupy more land area than multi-family structures, which were in high demand at the time.

York represented a break with tradition in terms of Edmonton’s neighbourhood planning. In 1967, row housing units in the city's first condominium complex were offered for sale. The inclusion of condominiums may have been an experiment, but it was a mildly cautious one. Single-detached units still made up the bulk of all housing units within the neighbourhood at that time, despite the fact that a concerted desire to bring on many more multi-family units was expressed.

While most of York’s present-day housing stock was in place by the 1970s, development and redevelopment continued slowly into the 2000s. As a result, unit densities have continued to increase modestly, as most new units within the neighbourhood are located in multi-family structures. As of 2006, 60 percent of all dwelling units were single- or semi-detached homes, with the remainder of units found in row houses and low-rise apartment buildings. Higher-density housing tends to be located along arterial roads on the periphery of the neighbourhood, especially along 66th Street and 144th Avenue.

The York Elementary School is located in the centre of the neighbourhood, and other schools located in the adjacent neighbourhoods of McLeod and Kilkenny are easily accessible to residents of York. York also contains a significant commercial component located in the southeast corner of the neighbourhood. Other shopping facilities are located nearby at Londonderry Mall and in the Clareview shopping area.

This neighbourhood takes its name from Annie A. York Secord, a local schoolteacher who moved from Ontario to Alberta in 1889 to teach at Poplar Lake and then Namao.

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