Saturday 21st November 1964
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge across the entrance to New York City harbour between Brooklyn and Staten Island was opened to traffic. The first 50¢ toll was paid by the George Scarpelli, 22, an employee of the Parks department, driving a light blue Cadillac.
The bridge is named for the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, whose name is misspelled on the bridge, as well as for the Narrows. In 1524, while in the service of Francis I of France, Verrazzano became the first European to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River.It has a central span of 4,260 feet (1,298 m) and was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its completion in 1964, surpassing the Golden Gate Bridge by 60 feet, until it was in turn surpassed by 366 feet by the Humber Bridge in the United Kingdom in 1981. It has the 13th longest main span in the world, while retaining its place as the longest bridge span in the Americas. Its massive towers can be seen throughout a good part of the New York metropolitan area, including from spots in all five boroughs of New York City and in New Jersey.
The bridge establishes a critical link in the local and regional highway system, and also marks the gateway to New York Harbor. All cruise ships and container ships arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey must pass underneath the bridge and therefore must be built to accommodate the clearance under the bridge. Since 1976, the Staten Island end of the bridge has been the starting point of the New York City Marathon.