My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Published in 2007, James Baker’s guide to New England’s first town is probably the most comprehensive one currently available. It opens with a history of the settlers we now call Pilgrims, tracing their decisions and moves prior to setting off for the New World. It then presents four separate walking tours and a driving tour of sites a bit out of town. Plymouth itself has, of course, changed greatly since the 17th century, but Baker does a fine job of pinpointing where, in the modern town, the Pilgrims made their first homes and farms. Plymouth Plantation, the museum founded in the 20th century, had to build its recreation of the original fort and village on a different site, one which hadn’t been modernized beyond recognition, but judging from the photos of Leyden Street today, especially its topography, the recreation got things right. Baker points out the few remaining 17th century buildings, and reviews the town’s museums. Of particular interest is the history of Plymouth Rock, which traveled to various locations around the town center before settling under the grand portico designed by McKim, Mead & White and erected in 1921. A Guide to Historic Plymouth makes for enjoyable armchair reading for those with an interest in early American history, and would be and invaluable resource for visitors to Plymouth who wish to do more than merely skim the surface of this legendary setting.