Several websites feature a biography of Giovanni da Verrazzano, including Biography.com, TotallyHistory.com and U-S-History.com. An explorer in the early 16th century, Verrazzano is most famous for charting the Atlantic coast of North America from North Carolina to Newfoundland.
Born near Florence, Italy, in 1485, Verrazzano moved to France sometime around 1506 and began a maritime career. Eventually he met King Francis I of France. Concerned that his country was lagging behind Spain and Portugal in western exploration after the voyages of Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan and Amerigo Vespucci, Francis I sent Verrazzano to explore the North American coast in search of a route to the Pacific Ocean.
In 1524, Verrazzano set sail with four ships: the Dauphine, the Normanda, the Santa Maria and the Vittoria. In the end, only the Dauphine completed the journey, arriving off the coast of North Carolina. Verrazzano traveled up the coast, eventually discovered New York Harbor and continued north.
He returned to France and later made two more voyages to the Americas. He died in 1528 near the island of Guadeloupe when he was killed by cannibals. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, a double-decked suspension bridge that connects Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York, was named after the explorer, but his name was misspelled on the bridge and never corrected.