Martense Lane Rock – Unremarkable Boulder Is Said To Bear The Hoof Print of The Devil Himself


Before Brooklyn had spread itself beyond Greenwood Cemetery a stone could be seen in Martense’s Lane, south of that burial-ground, that bore a hoof mark.

14,000 years ago this rock came to the neighborhood of Sunset Park –

It was brought here by the Wisconsin glacier. The glacier pushed rocks & dirt across the United Stated and when it reach here, global warming stopped it. All the dirt and rocks created the ridge at 6th Avenue that is the highest point in Brooklyn.

When the Dutch lived here with the Native American Leni Lenapi, there was a road, right here, that went east to west from the small Town of Flatbush to the farmers at Gowanus

There is a 400 year old story that tells of the meeting of a lowly Dutch slave and a stranger on Martense Lane one night. The story ends with teh stranger being defeated in a competition and in anger he stomped on a rock like this one and left a “hoof” print – revealing that he was the devil.

Uprooted outside of an unrelated church, this innocuous boulder showed up one day outside the gates of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, moved their by persons trying to honor a 400 year old folktale.

The legend differs in the telling but a couple of versions seem to be prominent. One version of the story says that a man was walking along what was then Martense Lane, back when Brooklyn was first being developed, when he came upon a stranger with whom he got into an argument. At the end of the altercation the stranger was angered and stomped his foot on the ground which left a large hoofprint, revealing his true identity: it was THE DEVIL! According to another version of the story, which is actually printed on the plaque near the rock, is that The Devil lost in a fiddling contest and stomped his foot in anger, leaving the hoofprint then.

Either way the cloven indentation was the consistent thread so when a boulder was found outside of a local church that looked to have an oversize hoofprint in it fans of the legend moved it to where the story is said to have taken place: modern day Green-Wood Cemetery. At first the boulder was just dumped outside the cemetery’s fence but was soon taken in and even given a plaque explaining the rock’s folktale origins. Not a bad deal for a seemingly random stone.