This website is sponsored by the Italian Historical Society of America which, since its founding in 1949 (see our history), has been devoted to “perpetuating the names of those of Italian heritage who have contributed to the betterment of humankind.” We also provide information about current and past events for those interested in Italian culture. Explore our ever expanding website and feel free to contact us with your reactions and requests and suggestions.
John J. LaCorte, Ph.D., Executive Director
In 1892, Columbus was an American hero. President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed, “Friday, October 21, 1892, the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus, as a general holiday for the people of the United States.” (The 21st reflected the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1582.)
Columbus was honored over 100 years earlier, though, in 1775 when one of the first war ships of the newly formed Continental Navy was named after him. In moving away from Great Britain, the Revolutionary War was a turning point for a young nation; and after gaining independence and seeking a unifying bond for the United States of America, Columbus emerged as a representative – an adventurer – in leaving the old and discovering something new. As poems about Columbus circulated throughout the states, Columbus and Columbia were associated with liberty, and in 1791, the District of Columbia was founded as the new nation’s seat of federal government.
THE NAMING OF THE VERRAZZANO BRIDGE
The Verrazzano Bridge symbolizes the spirit of committing to an idea and following through to the end. Without the singular efforts of John N. LaCorte, the naming of the bridge after the navigator who piloted the first European ship to pass through the waters which it traverses would not have occurred.Read More
In the late 1800s, Giuseppe and Giuseppina LaCorte eked out a marginal existence in their little town of San Giovanni Gemini. Tucked into the Sicilian hills located about midway between Palermo and Agrigento, the family farm, called Puzilo, barely provided sustenance. From the very rocky soil, Giuseppe and Giuseppina were able to extract some pistachios, tomatoes, and olives – hardly enough to sustain themselves. America promised the opportunity for a much better life. Giuseppe, often serving as a judge in local disputes and well respected in the town, decided to make the voyage. He was able to gather passage and he and Giuseppina left Italy in pursuit of their dreams of greater opportunities – a place where they could have children and provide them with a life that would be impossible to achieve in their homeland.