Fact of the day: 17th April

On this day in 1524 Giovanni da Verrazzano reached New York harbour.

Giovanni da Verrazzano was a Florentine explorer of North America, in the service of the King Francis I of France.

He is renowned as the first European since the Norse expeditions to North America around AD 1000 to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between the Carolinas and Newfoundland, including New York Bay and Narragansett Bay in 1524.

The bridge over the opening of New York Harbor and a vessel of the Italian navy, a destroyer of the Navigatori class, are among his numerous eponymous honours.

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Despite his discoveries, Verrazzano’s reputation did not proliferate as much as other explorers of that era; for example, in accordance with the practices of the time, Verrazzano gave a European name to the new land he had seen, Francesa, after the French king in whose name he sailed.

This and other names he bestowed on features he discovered have not survived. He had the bad luck of making major discoveries within the same three-year period, 1519 to 1521, of both the dramatic Conquest of Mexico and Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world—which though Magellan himself did not complete, brought him undying fame.

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