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Giovanni da Verrazano

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Giovanni da Verrazzano (c. 1485 – c.1528).

Giovanni da Verrazano or Verrazzano (c. 1485 – c.1528) was an early Italian explorer of North America. Verrazano sailed for France and is renowned as the European discoverer of many features of the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada, including New York Harbor, where the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is named in his honor.

Biography

Although Verrazano left a detailed account of his journey to North America, many of the other details about his life remain unknown. He was born approximately 30 miles (48 km) south of Florence at Castello Verrazzano, his family's castle near Val di Greve. His date of birth is uncertain, but it was around 1485. Upon reaching his majority (also around 15061507) he moved to Dieppe, to pursue a maritime career. He made several voyages to the Eastern Mediterranean, and probably also visited Newfoundland.

In 1524 or 1525, he was sent out by King Francis I of France to explore the region between Florida and Newfoundland for a route to the Pacific. He made landfall near Cape Fear on or around March 1. His journey is recorded in his personal journals. He initially sailed south along the coast of present-day South Carolina, then turned north again. Sailing along the Outer Banks of present-day North Carolina, he recorded what he observed to be a large inland sea, which he thought was the beginning of the Pacific Ocean, although it is actually the estuary of the Pamlico Sound. This mistake led mapmakers, starting with Vesconte de Maggiolo in 1527 and Giovanni's brother Girolamo da Verrazano in 1529, to draw North America as being almost split in two, the two parts connected by a thin land bridge on the East Coast. It would take a century for this error to be corrected.

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Verrazano voyage of 1524

He made landfall several times and interacted with the Native Americans of the coast. Although he passed the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, he did not enter it or record its existence. He likewise does not record the existence of the Delaware River further north. According to his journals, he sailed along the coast of present-day New Jersey and entered Lower New York Bay. He set anchor in the Narrows, the straight between Staten Island and Long Island, where he received a canoe party of Lenape. He observed what he believed to be a large freshwater lake to the north (Upper New York Bay). He did not observe the existence of the Hudson River.

From New York Harbor, he continued along the south coast of Long Island, then crossed Block Island Sound and entered Naragansett Bay, where he probably met the Naragansett people. He followed the coast further east and north to Maine, skirted the southeast coast of Nova Scotia, then returned to France by way of Newfoundland.

Later Verrazano made 2 more voyages to the Americas. On the first, he cut logwood in Brazil. The nature of Verrazano's death is not known for certain. According to some sources, he was killed in 1528 on his third voyage to the New World by the natives of Lesser Antilles. According to other sources, he was captured by the Spanish and hanged as a pirate in Cadiz.

Modern commemoration

Although Verrazano was the first recorded European to visit the East Coast of the present-day United States, his reputation did not endure and proliferate as much as other explorers of that era. This was particularly true in New York City, where the 1609 voyage of Henry Hudson came to be regarded as the de facto start of the European exploration of New York. It was only with great effort in the 1950s and 1960s that Verrazano's name and reputation as the European discoverer of the harbor was re-established, during an effort to have the newly built Narrows bridge christened for him. See Naming controversy of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

External link

es:Giovanni da Verrazzano fr:Giovanni da Verrazano pl:Giovanni da Verrazzano pt:Giovanni da Verrazano

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