2. Boerum Hill is not actually a hill
Despite what the name might suggest, Boerum Hill is not actually a hill, but is mostly flat. The neighborhood contains mostly three-story rowhouses built between 1840 and 1870. There are few changes in elevation throughout the small neighborhood, whose name was coined in 1964. The neighborhood is sometimes also referred to as “North Gowanus,” as some parts sit atop former marshes that bordered Gowanus Creek.
The “Boerum” part of the name derives from the Boerum family, who lived on a farm that occupied much of the land during Dutch settlement. The area was first settled by three Dutch settlers: Jan Eversen Bout, Jacob Stoffelson and Gerrit Wolfertsen van Couwenhoven. They helped start the village of Breuckelen, which would become “Brooklyn” over the years. The Boerums moved onto the land later, and a few members of the family played small roles in the American Revolution. William Boerum was a first lieutenant in the Brooklyn Light Horse Brigade, and Isaac Boerum and Hendrick Boerum were privates in the Brigade. John Boerum’s family owned at least two slaves, and it is possible that other Boerum homes also had slaves.