Boerum Hill occupies 36 blocks bounded by State Street to the north, 4th Avenue to the east, Smith Street to the west, and Warren Street to the south. There are commercial strips along Smith and Atlantic Avenue.
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. 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 had been settled by the Dutch. In the 1950s and '60s, the north end of Smith Street was the center of New York City's Mohawk community.