Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, New York City
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Boerum Hill is a small neighborhood in the northwestern portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn that occupies 36 blocks bounded by State Street to the north, 4th Avenue to the east, Court Street to the west, and Warren Street to the south. There are commercial strips along Smith Street, Court Street, and Atlantic Avenue. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 2.
Boerum Hill is named for the colonial farm of the Boerum family that occupied most of the area. Most of the housing consists of three-story row houses built between 1840 and 1870. The population is middle and upper middle class. This neighborhood was featured in two of Jonathan Lethem's books: The Fortress of Solitude, set primarily on one block in Boerum Hill (Dean Street between Nevins Street and Bond Street), and Motherless Brooklyn, which is centered on Bergen Street, between Smith Street and Hoyt Street. In The Fortress Of Solitude, it is postulated that the neighborhood was named in the wake of gentrification. It is unclear whether or not this is true; for instance, one profile in The Village Voice confirms it, while the same column rewritten two years later disputes the attribution.
In the 1950s, all the neighborhoods south of Atlantic Avenue and west of Hoyt Street were called South Brooklyn, which derived its name from being south of the original town of Brooklyn (now Brooklyn Heights) which was settled by the Dutch.
Boerum Hill features the Brooklyn House of Detention at Boerum Place (Adams Street) and Atlantic Avenue, inactive since 2004. The development of this neighborhood has created an interesting mix of urban decay, opulent brownstones, and newly-opened boutiques and restaurants (particularly stretching along Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue). If the neighborhood border is extended north to Schermerhorn or Livingston Street, one could in the recent past have compared the run-down, decrepit appearance of those streets to the tree-lined beauty of State Street's brownstones. Beginning in 2006, a dramatic gentrification of those blocks as well is taking place, with conversion of old buildings and parking lots to luxury housing. As a cross-section of Brooklyn, Boerum Hill exemplified the borough's great beauty and hideous dereliction in the space of a few square blocks.
The Brooklyn High School of the Arts is also located in the neighborhood on Dean Street and 3 Avenue.
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