500th Verrazzano Arrival Anniversary Sparks NY Toll Proposal!

500th Verrazzano Arrival Anniversary Sparks NY Toll Proposal!

This week’s historical milestone marks the 500th anniversary of Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano’s momentous arrival in New York Bay, a significant event in the city’s rich tapestry of discovery. To honor this occasion, a proposal has emerged that could delight drivers traversing the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. This iconic bridge, linking Staten Island and Brooklyn, was inaugurated in 1964 and christened after the intrepid explorer himself, who navigated the bay on April 17, 1524.

As the anniversary dawns, Representative Nicole Malliotakis, a vocal advocate for the toll break, suggests that on April 17th, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) should waive tolls for residents of the two boroughs connected by the bridge. Expressing her sentiments to The Post, Malliotakis underlined the symbolic importance of offering toll-free passage to commemorate Verrazzano’s remarkable discovery of New York Bay.

Reflecting on the legacy of Verrazzano, Malliotakis playfully criticized the MTA’s past oversight in misspelling the explorer’s name on signage, jesting that Verrazzano might pursue legal action for defamation if aware of the blunder. Malliotakis, backed by a congressional resolution celebrating Verrazzano’s feat on behalf of the French monarchy, stands firm in her call for the toll break as a tribute to the explorer’s enduring impact.

While the MTA has yet to comment on the proposed toll adjustment, recent scrutiny faced by the agency for seeking reimbursement of $750,000 in lost toll revenues during the New York City Marathon reignites broader discussions on toll policies and public events.

Governor Kathy Hochul’s decisive intervention, instructing the MTA to retract its demands from the marathon organizers, emphasizes the significance of the iconic race as a pivotal economic engine for the city. Hochul’s actions underscore the delicate balance between revenue considerations and community goodwill in managing infrastructure and transportation matters.

In parallel with these developments, Italian-American leaders are preparing to honor Verrazzano’s pioneering journey with a special ceremony at Battery Park in Manhattan, paying homage to the explorer’s trailblazing spirit. Advocates propose that Wednesday, coinciding with the anniversary, should see the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toll-free as a mark of gratitude to the explorer’s enduring legacy.

John Calvelli, from the National Italian American Foundation, highlights the significance of Verrazzano’s early exploration, preceding Hudson’s famous voyage, and emphasizes the bridge’s role as a symbol of opportunity and connection for countless New Yorkers. By supporting the toll-free initiative, Calvelli echoes the sentiment that this historic juncture warrants a moment of acknowledgement and appreciation.

Further celebrations are planned, including the renaming of a Staten Island street corner in Verrazzano’s honor by City Councilman David Carr. This gesture, alongside the toll break proposal and commemorative events, collectively underscore the enduring impact of explorers like Giovanni da Verrazzano on shaping New York’s rich history and cultural identity.


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