Pop Quiz: Is it Verrazano, Verazanno, Verrazanno, or Verazzano?
If you are reading the sign on the bridge itself, it reads: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. But if you are reading the name of the Italian explorer who it was dedicated to, it's: Verrazzano. Oops, sorry #6.
The bridge was built a half century ago, and while some people may tell you that the extra "z" was dropped on purpose, according to the Staten Island Advance, others will tell you this spelling traces back to a typographical error. The most common story points the finger at then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller—from the Bensonhurst Bean:
"The spelling of the name of Giovanni da Verrazzano, the Italian navigator credited as the first European to explore New York Bay, was, at the time, advocated by some Italians as having two Zs, but apparently then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller preferred the single Z, sometimes called the American spelling of it. These days, many businesses in the area use the spelling with the single Z in their names."
Meanwhile, Robert Moses wanted to spell it: John F. Kennedy. This was the urban planner's final public work, and with JFK having been assassinated a year prior to its opening, he wanted to dedicate it to him. Rockefeller won the name game, and Verrazano stuck. (Fun fact about the bridge-building: it was all documented by a then-young writer named Gay Talese for the NY Times; you can read his pieces here.)
Now 21-year-old Robert Nash has created a petition, declaring "All signs that do not spell Verrazzano correctly need to be replaced." That sounds expensive, kid! We've reached out to the MTA to see if this will ever happen, and they declined to comment on the matter. But one transit official with knowledge of the petition argues that changing the signage on the bridge would be an extensive and costly effort, and result in corresponding traffic closures.
So, are we sure we're spelling "Fuggedaboutit" correctly?
[Brooklyn Paper via SI Advance]