John Paul Jones Park
The Daily Plant : Thursday, October 28, 2004
JOHN N. LACORTE—“INSPIRATION THROUGH EXAMPLE”
At 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning in the chilly riverside air of John Paul Jones Park, Italian-American advocate John N. LaCorte received due recognition. Gathered in the LaCorte Commemorative Garden, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, State Senator Martin J. Golden, Assembly Member Matthew Mirones, Deputy Consul General of Italy Paola Munzi, monument designer Mark Sullivan, President of the Italian Historic Society of America Dr. John J. LaCorte, Parks & Recreation First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, and Parks & Recreation Brooklyn Commissioner Julius Spiegel unveiled the John N. LaCorte Commemorative Sculpture.
Commissioner Benepe hosted the unveiling ceremony. In his opening remarks, he recounted John LaCorte’s long commitment to honoring the accomplishments of Italian-Americans. With the Verrazano Bridge as a backdrop, the Commissioner reminded the audience that LaCorte was the force behind the naming of the bridge after Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazano, and that it was LaCorte who succeeded in petitioning the federal government to make Columbus Day a national holiday.
Quoting Christopher Wren, Commissioner Benepe said, "If you would see his monument, look around." "John N. LaCorte’s legacy of preserving history is one we are honored to continue," said Commissioner Benepe. "With this monument, we protect his place in our local narrative and honor the contributions that he and so many other Italian-Americans have made to our city, state and country."
The monument is located against the expansive backdrop of the Verrazano Bridge, at the southern end of John Paul Jones Park. It honors local activist John N. Lacorte (1910-1991), who advocated for the recognition of contributions made by Italians and Italian-Americans. Thanks to LaCorte’s efforts, the adjacent bridge was named for Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano, portions of Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza were renamed "Columbus Park," and a square in Bensonhurst was named for Antonio Meucci, Florentine inventor and immigrant to the United States. LaCorte was also the driving force behind the institution of Columbus Day as a national holiday.
The monument, a crescent-shaped, low-lying, inscribed wall of pink granite and the surrounding garden were designed by Mark Sullivan, who also helped design the setting for Soul in Flight, a memorial to Arthur Ashe at the United States Tennis Center. The bronze relief medallion of Verazzano incorporated into the LaCorte Monument was made by Albino Manca in 1964 to commemorate the dedication of the Verrazano Bridge. Manca also sculpted the Gates of Life at the Queens Zoo and the bronze eagle at the East Coast Memorial in Battery Park. The Italian Historic Society of America sponsored the monument and the LaCorte Commemorative Garden in which it is situated. The sponsors also raised $50,000 for ongoing care of the monument and garden.
The sonorous voices of the Italian Opera Company led the participants in singing the National Anthems of Italy and the United States during the unveiling of the monument, which is emblazoned with the words, "Inspiratio per Exemplum," or, "Inspiration through Example."
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"A person usually has two reasons for doing something:
a good reason and the real reason."