Although its actual name is the Pilgrim Monument, you’ll never hear anyone on Cape Cod refer to it as that. Known far more commonly as the Provincetown (or P-town) Monument, the structure commemorates the place where the Mayflower Pilgrims first set foot in the New World, before getting an uneasy feeling and high-tailing it out of Cape Cod and into Plymouth.
Located on the tip of the Cape, in “the San Francisco of the East,” the monument towers 252 feet above the ground, making it by far the tallest building on Cape, and the tallest all-granite structure in the US. It was built in the early years of the 20th century, with President Roosevelt laying the cornerstone in 1907, and Taft dedicating the completed monument in 1910. The monument itself is a narrow, rectangular construction, with a series of internal spiraling staircases and ramps leading upwards to the top observation post. This top post is a bit wider than the rest of the structure, and evokes a sense of medieval architecture with its gaping arches, faux-battlements and absurd decorative gargoyles.
It is an irony lost on many that the most distinctive symbol of P-town, one of the largest and most famous havens for gays and lesbians in the world, is a monolithic phallus erected in honor of a society of puritanical religious zealots that, if alive today, would have laid down God’s holy vengeance and burned said village to the ground.