Hundreds of young people looted stores, set fires to buildings and vehicles, and attacked police officers, injuring about 35 of them.
It began Saturday as a peaceful protest against the death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan, a young father of four who was recently shot by police.
Little information has been released about that incident, but authorities gave more details Sunday night, saying a "non-police firearm" was found at the scene.
Some protesters threw bottles with gasoline at police lines while others confronted officers with baseball bats and bars and attempted to storm the station. Two police cars and a double-decker bus were set alight, and several buildings along Tottenham's main street were set alight and reduced to smoldering shells.
Tottenham was quiet on Sunday night, but looting spread to the leafy suburb of Enfield, a few miles further north, and to Walthamstow in northeast London, where, police said 30 youths vandalized and looted shops. Another 50 people damaged property at Oxford Circus in the city center.
Youths used text messages and instant messaging to organize and regroup, often keeping a step ahead of police.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.