To the letter! Petition to add second Z to Verrazano bridge

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Can’t they spell?

A Dyker Heights activist is demanding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority tack another Z onto the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge so it matches namesake Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. Every day that the Florentine explorer’s misspelled cognome hangs on roadway signs is a travesty, and now its time to do something about it, the 21-year-old activist said.

“It’s been 52 years we’ve been spelling it wrong,” said Robert Nash, who founded the Italian-American Society at his alma mater Saint Francis University. “If we’re really going to honor him — and his name has two Zs — then its time.

Nash started a petition that garnered 58 names — including 23 Brooklynites — calling on the authority, which maintains the massive span, to fix the spelling.

But the agency has no plans to add the missing letter — particularly because changing signs on expressways leading to the bridge would be costly, time-consuming, and create traffic, a spokesman said.

The state spent $4 million to replace 139 signs leading to the Triborough Bridge when the it renamed the span the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008, according to a New York Times report.

Nash admitted the push is an uphill battle, but he’s looking for support from New York’s Italian-American electeds — Gov. Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio (formerly Warren Wilhelm, Jr.), he said.

“We have a governor, Andrew Cuomo, who claims to be Italian-American, and Mayor DeBlasio — now’s the time that we could possibly get some type of a political movement going with petitions,” he said.

The misspelling’s origins are murky.

Master urban planner Robert Moses famously opposed the name because he said Verrazzano was a historical footnote with a tough-to-pronounce name, but a push from the Italian Historical Society of America and support from then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller sealed the deal. The single-z spelling was a typographical error that stuck, according to the Staten Island Advance. The website for the Italian Historical Society of America, which advocated naming the bridge after Verrazzano, exclusively refers to the span using the double-z spelling.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at
Updated 5:53 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reader feedback

Peter Agola from Howard beach NY says:
I agree. The Bridge should be properly named by the explorer that it was named after correctly!
June 6, 2016, 9:04 am
Teresa Taverniti from Brooklyn says:
add a second Z to the verrazano bridge.
June 6, 2016, 9:16 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
No matter the name change, this bridge is still incredibly significant to Staten Island and in Brooklyn.
June 6, 2016, 10:43 am
Anthony palladino from Rosebank says:
Spell it the right way
You wouldn't want your name just spelled.
Verrazzano the way it should be.
June 8, 2016, 4:35 pm
Anthony Gala from Brooklyn says:
Change the name to what it should be, add a second Z.
June 8, 2016, 7:24 pm
Albert Lancellotti from South Philly says:
Iam a proud Italian American and it doesn't matter where you live spell the name the right way, to many Italians came here and had their name destroyed .
June 9, 2016, 12:26 pm
Oriana Rinaldi from Bensonhurst says:
I have wondered for years why the name was miss-spelled!! Change it...give the Italian American community the respect it deserves. The city was built from our blood, sweat and tears...we deserve it.
If it were any other nationality this would have been done years ago!
Shame on you once again Debalsio.
June 9, 2016, 6:01 pm
Stephanie from Patchogue, Long Island says:
To deny us the second Z is to deny a part of our nation's history and the identity of the Italian- American heritage.
June 9, 2016, 9:19 pm
Vincent Anz from Lititz Pa says:
For all that Italian-Americans did for this country Spell the name right
June 10, 2016, 9:37 pm
italian avenger ;-) from zzzzz says:
Grande Robert!
June 29, 2016, 12:03 pm
Romeo from Flushing says:
The MTA had no problem changing other bridges and roadways-triboro to rfk; interboro to jackie robinson pkwy; 59th st. bridge to Ed Koch; bklyn battery tunnel to hugh carey, but adding a Z to a name that they misspelled would cost too much! Unbelievably discriminating!
Aug. 19, 2016, 3:40 pm
Bob from Gerritsen Beach soon to be FL. says:
I've been going over this bridge since its inception when the toll was $.50 in each direction. What was to be a great addition for the city of New York has turned out to be just another cash cow that is used to soak its citizens of their hard-earned money. It now costs me $32 round-trip for a 32 mile trip to New Jersey to visit my grandchildren so I really don't care at this point what the spelling of his name is. The bridge has lost all joy thanks to the mismanagement of the people we voted for to represent us.
June 10, 2:04 pm

Comments closed.

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