A 59.5 Year Old Mistake Is Finally Corrected

What a difference a lone Z makes.

Apparently one of those Zs was dropped from whoever was snoozing at the time the iconic bridge which spans what is known as The Narrows — which is the narrowest part of the New York Bay — was officially named.

A 59.5 Year Old Mistake Is Finally Corrected

Known as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge since Saturday, April 18, 1959, Andrew M. Cuomo — who is the current governor of the state of New York — signed legislation S.9089/A.2963-B to correct the spelling of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge by officially adding an extra Z to the name on Monday, October 1, 2018.

The bridge — which has connected the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island in New York since it first opened on Saturday, November 21, 1964 — was named after Giovanni da Verrazzano, who was the first explorer from Europe to sail into the New York Harbor in the year 1524.

The Italian Historical Society of America encouraged Nelson Rockefeller — who was then the governor of the state of New York — to sign legislation on Wednesday, March 9, 1960 that the span officially be known as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Tolls

When the bridge officially opened back in 1964, the toll to cross it was only 50 cents each way — which totaled one dollar round trip.

The toll to cross what is now officially known as the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is $17.00 if you pay for the toll by mail — although you can pay $11.52 if you have E–ZPass; and even less if you are a resident of Staten Island. The toll is only paid by motorists heading westbound from Brooklyn on the Staten Island side of the bridge and covers travel round-trip, as motorists do not pay anything when crossing the bridge eastbound towards Brooklyn.

Cash is no longer accepted by bridges and tunnels of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City — including the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge — since October of 2017.

My Memories of The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

I was born and raised in Brooklyn; and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was always iconic to me. Whenever my parents drove westbound on the Belt Parkway near Bay Ridge, I remember seeing the bridge looming in the distance.

When my grandparents lived in Brooklyn, the bridge commanded the view from the window in the master bedroom in their apartment — especially at night, when the lights along the cables of the bridge would sparkle and glitter in the dark sky; and the sleek and smooth lines of the light blue towers were bathed in spotlights. One time, I was looking out the window just mesmerized by the bridge when the 1967 song Happy Together by The Turtles was playing on the radio.

To this day, that song still reminds me of the bridge at night every time I hear it.

Whether I rode my bicycle or drove my car southbound down either 3 Avenue, 4 Avenue or Fort Hamilton Parkway in Bay Ridge, I enjoyed seeing the Brooklyn tower of the bridge do exactly that — tower over the neighborhood. I even dated women who lived in Staten Island and New Jersey; and I had to drive over that bridge to see them.

If you remember the television show Welcome Back, Kotter from the 1970s, the start of the opening sequence showed a sign had WELCOME TO BROOKLYN 4th LARGEST CITY IN AMERICA printed on it. That sign was located at the end of the ramp where traffic from the bridge merged with traffic which headed eastbound on the Belt Parkway…

…and no, I am not related to Eric Cohen, who was one of the producers of that television show.

I always liked the aesthetics of the bridge itself — even to this day. I remember as a little boy, I used to think that the George Washington Bridge looked like the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge if it wore pajamas.

Summary

Anyone who knows me knows that I am fiercely proud to be from New York — and especially from Brooklyn — and I will take any opportunity I can get to talk about my original home.

As for the name change, it should have been done when the bridge was originally named and not have waited approximately 59.5 years later.

Now if only New Yorkers can agree on the correct pronunciation of the Van Wyck Expressway, whose southern terminus is at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens and below the viaduct on which the AirTrain runs…

The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is framed by the tails of two airplanes. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “A 59.5 Year Old Mistake Is Finally Corrected”

  1. DT says:

    Interestingly enough, we are watching NYC history documentary on Netflix and they started with H. Hudson in 1609.
    No mention of Verrazzano whatsoever.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That has actually been debated for decades, DT:

      “The Verrazzano name wasn’t a favorite among many New Yorkers. Some believed the story of Giovanni da Verrazzano, who in 1524 was the first European explorer to sail into the New York Harbor, was not accurate and that Henry Hudson rightly deserved the credit for first entering the New York Harbor. Staten Islanders preferred the bridge being named the Staten Island Bridge or Narrows Bridge, but with a push from the Italian Historical Society of America, Governor Nelson Rockefeller ended all disputes over the bridge’s name and signed a legislation making Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge the official name but on March 9, 1960.”

      https://www.nycgovparks.org/highlights/verrazano-bridge

  2. New Yorker says:

    I was born and raised in Staten Island and went over the bridge weekly on weekends to visit family on Brooklyn.
    Just a correction: the toll is paid going westbound into Staten Island not eastbound.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for catching that error, New Yorker. The article has since been corrected.

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