Boerum Hill

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Rowhouses in Boerum Hill

Boerum Hill (pronounced /ˈbɔːrəm/ BOAR-əm) is a small neighborhood in the northwestern portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bounded by Schermerhorn Street to the north and Fourth Avenue to the east.[1] The western border is variously given as either Smith or Court Streets, and Warren or Wyckoff Streets as the southern edge.[2]

Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue are the neighborhood's main commercial districts.[3] The Brooklyn High School of the Arts is in the neighborhood on Dean Street and Third Avenue. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community District 2 and is served by the NYPD's 84th Precinct.[4]


Location in New York City

Boerum Hill is named for the colonial farm of the Boerum family, which occupied most of the area during early Dutch settlement. According to the 1790 census, John Boerum's family owned at least two enslaved people.[5]

Most of the housing in Boerum Hill consists of three-story row houses built between 1840 and 1870. Despite the "hill" in the name, the neighborhood is relatively flat; some parts sit atop former marshes that bordered Gowanus Creek. In the 1950s, all the neighborhoods south of Atlantic Avenue and west of Prospect Park were known generically as South Brooklyn. Boerum Hill in particular was sometimes called "North Gowanus." The name "Boerum Hill" was coined in early 1964 by Boerum Hill Association founder Helen Buckler, referencing the name of the colonial farmers.[6][7][8]

From the early 1970s until about 2003, Boerum Hill was populated mostly by working class and middle-class African-American and Puerto Rican families. In recent decades, since about the late 1990s, gentrification has changed the neighborhood to one of mostly upper-class individuals, though working-class families still reside in the immediate area.

In the early twentieth century, many of the buildings were run as boarding houses. Nearby was the union hall for ironworkers, who came to the city to work on bridges and skyscrapers.[9] The north end of Smith Street was the center of New York City's Mohawk community, who came mostly from Akwesasne and Kahnawake, Mohawk reserves in Quebec, Canada.[9] (Akwesasne extends across national boundaries into New York state.) Many of the Mohawk men were ironworkers, while their wives worked at a variety of jobs and created the community for their families. For 50 years, the Mohawk families called their neighborhood "Little Caughnawaga," after the homeland of Kahnawake. Many families would travel back to Kahnawake in the summer.[10]

Smith Street commercial strip

The Boerum Hill Historic District was first recognized and designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on November 20, 1973, after many years of advocacy by the Boerum Hill Association.[11] The Boerum Hill Historic District was then listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Many of its buildings are landmarked.[12][13]

In 2012, Boerum Hill had the sixth highest neighborhood median home prices among all New York City neighborhoods, and the highest of any neighborhood outside Manhattan.[14]


Micro Museum, 123 Smith St
Apple Store at Flatbush and Fourth Avenues

Boerum Hill is known for its independent boutiques, restaurants and rows of brownstones. Boerum Hill is home of many artists who own art galleries in the neighborhood, including the "invisible dog" exhibition. Boerum Hill is home to many young families, and biking is popular in the neighborhood and nearby Prospect Park. The abundant cultural offerings (including The Invisible Dog Art Center, Roulette, Issue Project Room, and BAM), the thriving Smith Street restaurant row and Atlantic Avenue Design district.

The neighborhood has been featured in several contemporary creative works. It is the setting of Spike Lee's movie, Clockers (1995), which was filmed in the Gowanus Houses. It is the setting for two of Jonathan Lethem's novels: Motherless Brooklyn (1999), a crime mystery set on Bergen Street between Smith and Hoyt streets; and The Fortress of Solitude (2002), set primarily on one block in Boerum Hill (Dean Street between Nevins and Bond streets).


The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL)'s Pacific branch is at 25 Fourth Avenue near Pacific Street. Opened in 1905, it is Brooklyn's oldest Carnegie library.[15]


WBAI 99.5 FM, a non-commercial, listener-supported radio station part of the Pacifica Network has studios and offices at 388 Atlantic Avenue.

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ Boerum Hill Association
  2. ^ NYC Dept. of Housing and Preservation. "New York City Neighborhoods – Boerum Hill". New York City. Archived from the original on 28 February 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  3. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. (1995). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 123. ISBN 0300055366.
  4. ^ 84th Precinct.
  5. ^ Waithe, Elsa Eli; Robles, Maria; Reso, Ada (2021-04-07). "The Bergen Family Owned 46 People". Urban Omnibus. Retrieved 2021-04-16.
  6. ^ "Reporter at Large: The Making of Boerum Hill". The New Yorker. November 14, 1977. pp. 105–106.
  7. ^ Osman, Suleiman (2011). The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn. Oxford University Press. p. 352. ISBN 978-0-19-538731-5.
  8. ^ Gillison, Douglas (March 11, 2003). "Close-Up On: Boerum Hill". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Duffy, Peter (July 18, 1999). "Remembering Mohawk Ironworkers' Urban Haven". The New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  10. ^ Article about Reaghan Tarbell and her documentary, To Brooklyn and Back: A Mohawk Journey, PBS, 2 November 2009, accessed June 2010
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-17. Retrieved 2016-12-31.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  13. ^ "Boerum Hill Historic District - Trust for Architectural Easements". Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  14. ^ Zeveloff, Julie (January 30, 2013). "The 10 Most Expensive Neighborhoods In New York City". Business Insider. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Pacific Library". Brooklyn Public Library. August 19, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  16. ^ Connor, Jackson. "Now in L.A., Jonathan Ames Has Almost Completely Stopped Missing New York", The Village Voice, September 29, 2015. Accessed May 15, 2022. "Raised in New Jersey and educated at Princeton, Ames first moved to New York in the early Nineties, bouncing between various parts of Brooklyn and the East Village before landing in Boerum Hill in 1999."
  17. ^ "The Exhibition ‘Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure’ Opening in NYC April, 2022", GothamToGo, December 22, 2021. Accessed May 15, 2022. "Above and below, a partial recreation of Basquiat's childhood home in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn."
  18. ^ McKeough, Tim. "They Were Looking for a Place With an Elevator. They Found a Lot More.", The New York Times, November 2, 2021. Accessed May 15, 2022. "Like many buyers, Lilly Burns and Tony Hernandez set some parameters to narrow their online search when they began looking for an apartment in Brooklyn in early 2018.... Lilly Burns and Tony Hernandez, now expecting their third child, bought a new townhouse with an elevator in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, and hired D2 Interieurs to personalize it."
  19. ^ a b Ugwu, Reggie. "Paul Dano's Cup Runneth Over (and Over)", The New York Times, January 2, 2019. Accessed May 15, 2022. "Early on a December morning in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, where Mr. Dano and his partner, the actress and writer Zoe Kazan, have lived for nearly a decade, I met him at a handsome restaurant with dark wood paneling and an antique bar."
  20. ^ Mays, Jeffery C. "Shaun Donovan Has the Résumé and the Money. He Just Needs the Votes.", The New York Times, May 31, 2021. Accessed May 15, 2022. "The correct answer is actually nine times that amount; Mr. Donovan, who, with his wife, Liza Gilbert, paid $2.3 million in 2019 for their home in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, later said he had misunderstood the question."
  21. ^ "This Is Duncan Hannah (The iconic American painter invites us into his". Rowing Blazers. Retrieved 2023-01-20.
  22. ^ Margolies, Jane (2014-05-12). "Elevating 'Ordinary' to an Art Form". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-20.
  23. ^ a b Clarke, Katherine. "Michelle Williams sells Boerum Hill townhouse she bought with late actor Heath Ledger for $8.8 million", New York Daily News, December 29, 2014. Accessed May 15, 2022. "Michelle Williams did just that this week, selling the Boerum Hill lovenest she once shared with her late A-lister partner Heath Ledger for $8.8 million — double what she and the Brokeback Mountain star paid for it in 2005."
  24. ^ McGlone, Jackie. "Brooklyn dodger", The Scotsman, 2007-05-26. Retrieved on 2007-08-29
  25. ^ Inside my NEW BROOKLYN Townhouse | Ryan Serhant, retrieved 2021-08-10
  26. ^ Maerz, Melissa (March 29, 2011). "Merritt Wever on the 'sexually frank' new season of 'Nurse Jackie'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 24, 2021. "This season, she's very sexually frank," said Wever during a recent interview in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, just a few subway stops from her home.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°41′06″N 73°59′04″W / 40.68500°N 73.98444°W / 40.68500; -73.98444