City Living: Boerum Hill
Photos by Sam Horine
By Craig Raphael
Special to amNewYork
Until the 1960s, Boerum Hill was known as South Brooklyn or "North Gowanus" along with neighbors Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill.
But in true New York real estate fashion, the area was rechristened in the name of the Boerum family, former farmland owners, in order to improve its appeal. The name may have taken time to stick, but today there is no doubt that Boerum Hill is firmly on the map.
With new shops and restaurants popping up along Atlantic Avenue and scenic tree-lined streets nearby, it has fast become one of Brooklyn's most desirable neighborhoods.
Proximity to several subway lines and the Flatbush Avenue LIRR station, as well as the BAM cultural district and other Brooklyn institutions, is also a big draw.
Its close to everything there are a lot of great shops and restaurants, said resident Maeve ODonnell. And because the buildings are low-rise, you really get a sense of the changing light and the season. Its very refreshing.
Atlantic Avenue, the commercial center of the neighborhood, is the home of Antique Row, a unique cluster of antique shops, in addition to a host of African and Islamic stores between Third and Fourth avenues.
It also hosts Atlantic Antic every fall, one of the biggest street festivals in New York. Boerum Hill is known for its strong sense of community, nourished by groups like the Boerum Hill Association, which holds meetings and events throughout the year. Said resident Kelly Williams: You get to feel like youre having a real neighborhood experience in the middle of it all.
Boerum Hill is bordered by State Street to the north, 4th Avenue to the east, Warren Street to the south and Smith Street to the west.
A variety of culinary options can be found along Atlantic Avenue, including bakeries and an ice cream shop to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you're in need of a cup of coffee and a snack, pop into The Victory CafÃ© (718-596-9035) on the corner of Hoyt and State streets.
Fresh pita baked before your own two eyes make the falafel sandwiches at Beduoin Tent among the best in Brooklyn. Other highlights include 10-inch Middle Eastern pizzas and marinated chunks of juicy lamb. 405 Atlantic Ave., 718-852-5555
Jolie is a French bistro that rises above the pack with nightly specials, strong drinks and an excellent brunch menu. Try the hangar steak sandwich, cooked rare you wont be disappointed. 320 Atlantic Ave., 718-488-0777
The classic Vietnamese sandwich (shredded pork, Vietnamese ham, cilantro, mayo and daikon radish) is in fine form at Hancos, which also serves bubble tea and a variety of iced drinks. 85 Bergen St., 718-858-6818
Smooth, creamy organic ice cream in flavors such as pistachio-almond, maple and pumpkin (in addition to traditional favorites) has attracted droves of locals to this recently opened shop. They also serve coffee, tea and baked goods. 420 Atlantic Ave., 718-858-1100
With a beautiful interior, friendly service and stellar South Asian food, Mai is one of the best values in the neighborhood. The fish dishes, in particular, are excellent; order the curry squid or pan-seared salmon with mango chutney. 497 Atlantic Ave., 718-797-3880
Red velvet cupcakes, petit fours and apple tart tatin are among the highlights at this adorable bakery, which also serves muffins, scones, pastries and bread. 448 Atlantic Ave., 718-246-2402
The Brooklyn Inn
Smith Streets bar and restaurant row may be the neighborhoods de facto hang-out spot, but its not the only game in town. Nearby venues include a biker bar with karaoke and a lounge converted from a historic synagogue.
Head to Kili during the week when you can stake out a spot by the fireplace and enjoy the cozy atmosphere with friends. Tuesday night is open mic, and DJs play throughout the week. 79 Hoyt St., 718-855-5574
A former synagogue replete with pillars and mirrored walls, Deity is a lounge with an alluring ambiance and hopping weekly dance parties. 368 Atlantic Ave., 718-222-3692
The Brooklyn Inn
A historic setting and plenty of character make the Brooklyn Inn a favorite among locals and non-locals alike. 138 Bergen St., 718-625-9741
An authentic dive bar with cheap beer, free barbecue and requisite sticky floors, Hanks is most well known for its rollicking jukebox and live-band country karaoke. 46 Third Ave. (at Atlantic), 718-625-8003
Those in need of last-minute holiday gifts will find plenty to choose from at the various antique shops and boutiques that line Atlantic Avenue between Smith Street and Fourth Avenue.
Provisions for the urban gardener abound at GRDN, which offers a colorful array of garden accessories, supplies, plants and themed gifts. 103 Hoyt St., 718-797-3628
Stylish home dÃ©cor, antique furniture, cookware and novelty items can all be found at Sterling Place, which also has a store in Park Slope. It has a plethora of gifts for men including antique razors, watches and assorted trinkets. 363 Atlantic Ave., 718-797-5667
Knit-A-Way of Brooklyn, Inc.
In search of soft, plush yarn to fashion a new hat or scarf? Is your kitten in need of a new diversion? Look no further than Knit-A-Way of Brooklyn, which also hosts weekly knitting and crochet classes. 398 Atlantic Ave., 718-797-3305
The dizzying variety of lotions, creams and essential oils at Aanwar Co. is enough to keep your skin nourished and sweet-smelling for a lifetime. 428 Atlantic Ave., 718-875-3791
Filled with signs and other ephemera from Brooklyn and France, this stores visual delights add a healthy splash of color to Antique Row. 334 Atlantic Ave., 718-834-9268
Horesman Antiques is a sprawling, classic antique store with high-quality furniture, objets dart, paintings and jewelry. 351 Atlantic Ave., 718-596-1048
A number of cute neighborhood attractions, as well as some cant-miss seasonal events, keep things busy in Boerum Hill.
Hoyt Street Garden
After youve spent your energy browsing the shops on Atlantic Avenue, relax at this charming community garden, adorned with signs that boast Winner of the Dress Up Your Neighborhood Contest. A bulletin board outside gives the scoop on local events. Corner of Hoyt Street and Atlantic Avenue
Metaphor Art Gallery
A contemporary art gallery that showcases the work of emerging and mid-career artists, Metaphor specializes in installation, works on paper and painting. Currently on display is a holiday group show entitled Treasure Chest. 382 Atlantic Ave., 718-254-9126
Atlantic Antic and Atlantic Avenue Art Walk
Mark your calendar for next falls Atlantic Antic, which fills 10 blocks of Atlantic Avenue with hundreds of vendors, multiple music stages, hayrides, belly dancers and other attractions. Earlier in the summer, the Atlantic Avenue Art Walk provides a self-guided tour of artist studios, public art exhibits, live music and other activities. Atlantic Avenue from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue
Stroll down Atlantic Avenue and pop into the various stores and boutiques. On the way back, ogle the brownstones on Pacific and Dean streets.
Boerum Hill has some of the finest housing stock in all of Brooklyn, consisting mostly of three- and four-story brownstone and brick buildings dating from the 19th century. "It's more low key (and less expensive) than Brooklyn Heights," said Emily Fisher from Halstead Realty.
One-bedroom floor-through on Pacific Street with stainless steel appliances and marble fireplace: $2,600
Renovated studio on State Street with hardwood floors and full bath: $1,195
Two-bedroom on State Street with exposed brick and hardwood floors: $2,400
Three-family, four-story brownstone on Pacific Street with crown moldings, marble fireplaces and south-facing garden: $2,175,000
One-bedroom co-op on Atlantic Avenue with wood-burning stove and private roof: $595,000
Two-bedroom condo in new building on Dean Street with stainless steel appliances and energy efficient details: $780,000
1,300-square-foot condo on Bergen Street: $845,000
3,360-square-foot multi-family brownstone on Pacific Street: $2,350,000
First rental and sale listing courtesy of Emily Fisher at Halstead Property,(718-613-2048). Other listings from Trulia.com and Craigslist.
Q&A WITH MAEVE O DONNELL
Maeve O Donnell is a 24-year-old artist living in Boerum Hill.
What are some of your favorite places in the neighborhood?
Bedouin Tent the lamb sandwich is delicious and everything is fresh. They have a little garden in the back and you get a free pastry at the end of the meal if you dine in. Sterling Place is great for birthday and Christmas presents.
What do you like most about the area?
The community is very welcoming; people say hello to each other on the street. I was also very lucky that my landlord introduced me to my neighbors.
Whats not so great about Boerum Hill?
Theres a lot of traffic that passes through on the way to the bridges or the BQE, and it can be very loud.
How has the neighborhood changed since you moved there?
Atlantic Avenue has gotten a lot more commercial, which is nice because they are fixing up a lot of the old storefronts. Its brought a lot of life to the fronts of the buildings, which are very clean and well kept.
How do you think it will change?
I worry that it will become too expensive. The boutiques are already really expensive, and the restaurants are getting more upscale, which will make it more difficult to go to them. I also worry that with the economy, some of the problem spots in the neighborhood may get more dangerous.
DID YOU KNOW?
There is still disagreement over the neighborhoods boundarieswhile some residents consider Court and Smith Streets to be part of Cobble Hill, others maintain they lie within Boerum Hill.
Actors Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams drew attention to Boerum Hill when they moved there in 2005.
In the 1920s, Boerum Hill was home to many Mohawk steelworkers, famous for building several of New York's most famous skyscrapers and bridges.
In the early 20th century, the Brooklyn downtown theater district was in full swing, and many traveling vaudeville actors took up residence in nearby Boerum Hill.
Library Brooklyn Public LibraryPacific Street Branch: 25 Fourth Ave., 718-623-3808
Police Station: 84th Precinct. 301 Gold St., 718-875-6811
Fire Department: Engine 226, 409 State St.
Food Markets: Met Food, 197 Smith St., 718-237-0317 C-Town Supermarket, 239 Bond St., 718-852-8542
Transportation Subway: F, G to Bergen Street; A to Hoyt Schermerhorn; 2,3 to Nevins Street. Bus: B61, B63 (Atlantic Avenue), B37, B103 (Third Avenue), B65 (Bergen Street).
Banks: Washington Mutual, 192 Smith St., 800-788-7000 Independence Community Bank, 130 Court St., 718-722-5700
Crime Stats: The 84th Precinct, which also covers Downtown Brooklyn and Vinegar Hill, has reported one murder, three rapes, 235 robberies, 129 felonious assaults, 136 burglaries, and 52 grand theft autos in 2008. In 2007, there were two murders, three rapes, 214 robberies, 165 felonious assaults, 145 burglaries and 47 grand theft autos in 2007.
Public Elementary: PS 251 Philip Livingston School, 314 Pacific St., 718-330-9275 PS 37 The Pacific School, 314 Pacific St., 718-330-9305 MIDDLE: School for Global Studies, 284 Baltic St., 718-694-9741 HIGH: School for Global Studies, 284 Baltic Street, 718-694-9741 Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, 718-858-5150
Private: St. Anns School, 129 Pierrepont St., 718-522-1660. Brooklyn Friends School, 375 Pearl St., 718-852-1029.