What's in a name?
Not much for some New York City sites and structures whose appellations are technically misspellings of the people and things they honor. Here's a look at four times the city's flubbed the names of now-famous landmarks:
► Randall's Island
People traveling over the East River to get to the site of this past weekend's first-ever Panorama music festival might not know that the land they were standing on shouldn't be called Randall's Island.
The island in the East River was privately owned by the heirs of a farmer named Jonathan Randel until 1835, when the city of New York bought the land for $60,000. A spelling error by the city permanently changed its name, according to "The Other Islands of New York City."
► Verrazano-Narrow Bridge
The country's longest suspension bridge honors Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, but spells his name without the second "z."
It's unclear how the typographical error in first emerged, but some say that Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signed off on the misspelled name. According to journalist Gay Talese, the mistake originated in the 1959 building contract.
The New York Times attributes the flub to the executive director of the Italian Historical Society of America, John LaCorte, who insisted in 1960 that the proper spelling of Verrazano's last name was with one "z." He said that authorities in Italy agreed with him and that the explorer’s signature in its Latin form read, "Janus Verrazanus."
Earlier this year Dyker Heights resident Robert Nash, 21, started a petition to correct the error.
"Italian-Americans have a right to be present in the history of the United States," he wrote. "All too often, people push Italians and Italian-Americans to the side! Sign this petition; let's unite as proud Italian-Americans!"
The MTA told DNAinfo New York it has no plans to change bridge signage because it would be too costly. When the Triborough Bridge was renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008, new road signs set the state back $4 million, according to a 2008 New York Times article.
► Throgs Neck Bridge
"Throggs Neck" or "Throgs Neck?"
The suspension bridge built by controversial city planner Robert Moses that connects The Bronx to Queens — and the neighborhood it leads into — has long been in dispute over how many Gs its name should have.
The bridge was named after John Throckmorton who was given permission by the Dutch to make his home in what is now Throgs Neck in 1642, Bronx Historical Society education director Angel Hernandez told AM New York.
He didn't last there too long. A passing British vessel swept up Throckmorton and his party when an American Indian took up arms against them, slaughtering their cattle and burning their houses. Still, the name stuck to peninsular area or "neck," evolving into "Throggmorton" and then the shorter "Throggs" over time.
The local neighborhood organization continues to call itself the "Throggs Neck Homeowners Association," but Moses apparently didn't care for the tradition when it was time to put signage on his new bridge. According to the late Bronx historian Bill Twomey, the planner decided "Throggs" was one "g" too long.
► Waverly Place
This Greenwich Village street near Washington Square Park should actually be called "Waverley" Place, after the historical novel by the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott for which it's named. In 1833, a year after his death, residents petitioned to christen the street in Scott's honor.
Apparently, they were poor spellers. Their mistake will permanently stain Selena Gomez's IMDb page, which should read, "The Wizards of Waverley Place."