After 55 years, the Verrazzano Bridge gets a second ‘Z’

February 6, 2020

Photos: Patrick Cashin/Metropolitan Transportation Authority

On Tuesday crews from MTA Bridges and Tunnels began addressing a 55-year-old spelling mistake by replacing the first of 19 signs on agency property to feature the correct spelling of Verrazzano with two Z’s instead of just one. The bridge was named after Giovanni de Verrazzano—the first European explorer to sail into New York Harbor—but a longstanding dispute over the name’s proper spelling led to the bridge being inaugurated as the Verrazano-Narrows bridge in 1964. In 2018, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to add a second Z into the name.

According to NYC Parks, “the name wasn’t a favorite among many New Yorkers” when planning first began. Some thought Henry Hudson rightly deserved credit for being the first to enter the Harbor while Staten Islanders preferred something like Staten Island Bridge or Narrows Bridge. The bridge was the last major project to be overseen by Robert Moses, who thought Verrazzano was only a footnote in history and also opposed the name for being hard to pronounce. Support from the Italian Historical Society of America and Governor Nelson Rockefeller ultimately decided the official name in 1960.

Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, Verrazzano Bridge, MTA Bridges and Tunnels

Some New Yorkers were dismayed over seeing the improper spelling on road signs for decades. In 2016 a Dyker Heights activist started a petition to change the spelling, saying, “It’s been 52 years we’ve been spelling it wrong, if we’re really going to honor him—and his name has two Zs—then its time.”

The first new sign is officially up at 92nd Street near Fort Hamilton Parkway in Bay Ridge but the other 18 won’t be replaced quickly. To keep replacement costs low, the MTA is swapping the signs “gradually under schedule of normal maintenance.” When the Triborough Bridge was renamed after Robert F. Kennedy in 2008, it cost more than $4 million to change all the road signs.


Photos: Patrick Cashin/Metropolitan Transportation Authority


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