MTA board member Allen Cappelli said it’s “idiotic” that the MTA hasn’t corrected the spelling of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to match its namesake, Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano.
“It’s just disrespectful,” said Cappelli, a native Staten Islander and chairman of the Bridges and Tunnels Committee. “They should spell the guy’s name right.”
Cappelli is in accord with a new online petition that calls for the MTA to add a “z” to the Verrazano Bridge to reflect the true spelling of “Verrazzano,” who is credited as the first navigator to explore New York Bay. After launching on June 1, the petition has collected 159 signatures.
“It’s been 52 years we’ve been spelling it wrong,” Robert Nash, the petition founder, told the Brooklyn Daily. “If we’re really going to honor him — and his name has two Zs — then it's time.”
A sarcastic Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’d get a task force on the case after a reporter asked him about the petition at an unrelated news conference Wednesday.
“These are the issues of the minds of New Yorkers,” de Blasio said. “I need to look into that as a proud Italian. I need to go back and do my research. I will get a task force and get back to you.”
The exact origins of the misspellings are lost. The Staten Island Advance reports that the name had been accidentally misspelled, while others have pointed fingers at then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, who reportedly preferred the spelling with a single “z.”
The bridge’s conceptor, master planner Robert Moses, was against the name entirely. Moses turned down the Italian Historical Society’s proposal to name the bridge after the explorr. He believed the name was too hard to pronounce and that Verrazzano himself was too obscure of a historical figure, according to the Italian Historical Society.
“If the state can spend $4 million to rename the Triborough Bridge after Robert F. Kennedy, they should be able to invest the money for new signage for the Verrazano,” Cappelli said.