According to one of our favorite books, Secret New York: An Unusual Guide, there’s not one, but two pieces, of the famed Plymouth Rock in Brooklyn. One is in the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims on Hicks Street and the other at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
For our non-American readers, Plymouth Rock is where the English Pilgrims landed in America in 1620 aboard the Mayflower to establish a new colony where they could practice their religion freely and maintain their cultural identity. It’s thanks to the Pilgrims that we have Thanksgiving, or what it has evolved to be.
According to T.M. Rives, there isn’t much left of the original Plymouth Rock up in Massachusetts. In 1774, in the face of mounting water erosion on the shoreline, the settlers used some oxen to pull the rock until it broke. According to Lois Rosebrooks, who gives tours of Plymouth Church, “the people of Plymouth took the break as a portent of independence, left the ‘British’ half in the sea, and installed the other in front of the meeting house under the banner ‘Liberty or Death.’ Eventually the halves were reunited…in the meantime, many fragments were lost, some chipped off as ‘souvenirs,’ others – like the one at Plymouth Church, freely given.”
Incidentally, Plymouth Church was a key spot on the Underground Railroad and was the church of Reverend Thomas Dewitt Talmage, the subject of our recent mailbag, in which he was supposedly spotted flying over Coney Island with bat’s wings and frog’s legs (so said The New York Times).