“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Plymouth in Plymouth County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)

Leyden Street

Leyden Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, July 17, 2014
1. Leyden Street Marker
Inscription. Leyden Street, originally known to the first settlers as First Street, Great Street or Broad Street, is where the Pilgrims began building their houses in the winter of 1620-21, and it has been the heart of the town ever since. Extending from the harbor at its eastern end to Burial Hill on the west (and including Town Square), Leyden Street is the oldest continuously occupied street in British North America.

Current building and history
Although no 17th century structures survive on the street, the existing homes are a assortment of 18th and 19th century houses that front directly onto the sidewalks. They stand close together on small lots that are roughly 49 ½ feet deep, as was allotted in the first division in 1620.

Town Square
Unlike many New England communities Plymouth has a market square rather than a green at its center. Town Square occupies the upper end of Leyden Street and is surrounded by three prominent buildings. The 1749 Courthouse on the corner of Market Street occupies the south side of the square; the stone First Parish Church (Unitarian) is at the west end and the white wooden church of the Pilgrimage (Congregational) is on the north side. A stairway up Burial Hill can be found at the northwest corner of Town Square at the entrance to School Street.

Burial Hill
Burial Hill, also known as Fort Hill, is located at the east end of Leyden Street. This was the highest hill in the area, about 130 feet above sea level, with a good view of the harbor. The Pilgrims build their fort upon the top of this hill, and in the earliest years of Plymouth there were six cannons mounted on the fort. They used the fort for their church house as well. In 1675 and 1676, the residents of Plymouth built a smaller fort in the location shown in the picture below, to protect themselves from attack. After the end of the war, tradition says the wood form the fort was sold and used to build the Harlow House, still standing at Plymouth. Shortly before King Phillipís War, the hill began to be used as a cemetery. The earliest gravestone it is claimed that some of the Mayflower passengers were buried on the hill including the supposed gravesite of William Bedford, who died in 1657. There is no original gravestone for Bradford, and the tall memorial was placed there in the 19th century. Town square -1828 print by Benjamin Parris Barlett. A man is seating his young son on the upper half of Plymouth Rock, moved to this spot from the waterfront by Colonel Theophilus Cotton.

Plymouth Town House, cica 1900, The 1749 Courthouse, subsequently the seat of town government from 1820 to 1953, is now a town museum. There was a market beneath the building year ago.

Site of old fort. Dr. James Thacher planted an elm tree a the center of the old fortís foundation, which was later replaced with the marble “stool.”
Location. 41° 57.387′ N, 70° 39.688′ W. Marker is in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in Plymouth County. Marker is at the intersection of Leyden Street and Water Street on Leyden Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Plymouth MA 02360, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Plymouth Waterfront (within shouting distance of this marker); William Bradford (within shouting distance of this marker); Coleís Hill (within shouting distance of this marker); 1630-1930 (within shouting distance of this marker); Plymouth Rock (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Massasoit (about 700 feet away); Pilgrim Memorial State Park (about 700 feet away); The Town House of Plymouth (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Plymouth.
Categories. Colonial EraSettlements & Settlers

Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 1, 2014, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 213 times since then and 24 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on August 1, 2014, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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