One g, or two? This Bronx area has an identity crisis

The Harding Avenue exit for the Throgs Neck Bridge in Throggs Neck. (Alex Mitchell)

Spelling the name of this Bronx neighborhood is a sure pain in the ‘Neck.’

The ongoing debate of how to properly write out Throggs Neck (or is it Throgs Neck?) has sparked controversy in the Bronx for quite some time now — a few centuries, to be exact.

Essentially, there have been two schools of thought on this one throughout the years: either spell the waterfront neighborhood out with with one “g” or double up the consonant.

It all started in 1642, when a pilgrim by the name of John Throckmorton left New England to settle in the now phonetically controversial peninsula, which would later take his namesake.

This East Bronx waterfront had originally been called “Throck’s Neck” after Throckmorton, though over some years its pronunciation eventually evolved to “Throggs Neck” — possibly the first example of a New York accent.

“There wasn’t spell check in the 1750s,” said Bronx Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan, whose been at the throat of this issue in the Neck.

He explained that by the Revolutionary War its pronunciation had derived to “Frog’s Neck,” and it was something else for the colonists and British to skirmish over. 

“Nobody knew what a Throgg was,” Ultan said, mentioning that later during times of peace its naming reverted back to Throggs Neck in the 1800s.

Come 1854, the first Presbyterian Church in the area stuck its neck on the line by using a two g spelling, which was generally accepted for the next century.

Then Robert Moses came along.

According to Ultan, the power broker, wanting to save money on road signs, began the one G spelling of Throggs Neck while planning the Throgs Neck Bridge and its subsequent expressway.

The Throgs Neck Bridge was built under the auspices of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), which Moses controlled. The TBTA also built during the 1960s the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island, named for the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who discovered New York Harbor.

But in building the bridge, Moses left out one letter in the bridge’s name — just as he had done in building the Throgs Neck span. In this case, he dropped one of the z’s in the explorer’s name. In 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law rightfully restoring the second z in Verrazzano.

The one-g spelling for Throgs Neck also appeared at the Throgs Neck Houses around the time as well. The public housing complex is controlled by a city agency, the New York City Housing Authority.

So does that mean the city recognizes just one g? Maybe. But don’t tell that to the federal employees at the Throggs Neck Post Office on East Tremont Avenue.

Since its inception, that mail facility has taken to the double g spelling of the neck and still does to this day.

So who’s right? Ultan says it doesn’t matter that much.

“They’re both correct spellings to my knowledge,” Ultan said, noting that he’s a “purist” who uses the double g spelling.

“People cant decide how to spell it and they still argue over to this day down there,” the historian continued.

Regardless of how you spell Throggs Neck, at least you’ve got an interesting story to tell the next time you’re stuck in traffic on the Throgs Neck Bridge.