Petition Aims to Correct Misspelling of NYC's Verrazano Bridge

Violinbd, Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 3.0
Violinbd, Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 3.0 / Violinbd, Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re a New Yorker who struggles to spell the name of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, rest assured: you’re not the only one. Opened to the public in 1964, the bridge—which connects Staten Island and Brooklyn—is named for 16th century Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who discovered New York Harbor in 1524. However, while christening the overpass, officials accidentally omitted a “z” from its name. That’s right: the public has been misspelling the overpass’ moniker for years.

Nobody knows quite how the mistake was made (some say it was a typo), but it’s never been corrected. That’s why Robert Nash, a 21-year-old college student from Brooklyn, recently launched a petition to fix the misspelling, CBS News reports.

Sadly, it currently looks like Nash’s quest might be a bridge to nowhere. Officials who control the overpass say it would simply be too expensive to change the signs, brochures, maps, and websites. After all, the Associated Press writes, it cost New York $4 million to change the name of New York's Triborough Bridge to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008. Still, Nash—whose petition has gained 187 signatures (at the time of writing)—says that overlooking the error is insulting to Italians-Americans, who have been “persecuted, disgraced, stereotyped, and discriminated against.” The petition continues:

"The Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to explore the Atlantic Coast of what would become the United States of America. A bridge was built and supposedly named in his honor. There was great opposition to naming the bridge after an Italian explorer! ... In the end, they spelled his name wrong. Since its inception, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge has been spelled wrong. It is time that the bridge is renamed with the correct spelling of the explorer's name!"

John LaCorte, founder of the New York-based Italian Historical Society of America, fought to have the Verrazano Bridge named after the famed Italian explorer in 1964. However, it’s been reported that New York urban planner Robert Moses originally wanted to name the bridge after the recently assassinated President John F. Kennedy. He reportedly thought that the name "Verrazzano" was too hard to spell, and that the explorer wasn't historically significant enough to warrant the honor.

[h/t CBS News]