Captain Roald Amundsen Plaza
Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen (1872-1928), polar explorer, was born in Borge, Norway. When he was 20 years old, Amundsen abandoned the study of medicine and joined a seal-hunting expedition to the Arctic. In 1897, he was appointed first mate of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition. While their ship, Belgica, was trapped in ice for thirteen months, the captain developed scurvy and Amundsen was put in command. He managed to save the crew by providing fresh meat from frozen seal carcasses and to free the vessel by blasting a channel out of the ice with dynamite.
During the years 1903-1905, Amundsen, now a licensed sea captain, led an expedition on which he determined the exact location of the Magnetic North Pole and successfully navigated the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, a route that had eluded European mariners.
Amundsen is best known for being the first explorer to reach the South Pole, as well as to discover that it was located on a continental landmass. He reached the Pole by dogsled on December 14, 1911, just one month ahead of the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott, who died with his entire party on the return journey.
In 1926, Amundsen flew from Norway to Alaska over the North Pole in the dirigible Norge and became the first man to cross from Europe to North America by way of the pole. Two years later, his plane disappeared in the Arctic during a mission to rescue Italian explorer Umberto Nobile. Nobile’s dirigible Italia, a replica of the Norge, had crashed while en route to the North Pole.
Roald Amundsen Plaza, located at Amboy Road and Clarke Avenue, was acquired by the city in 1928 and named for Amundsen on July 9, 1929. In 1933, the Norsemen Glee Club of Staten Island and the Norwegian Singing Society of Brooklyn placed a tablet on this site in honor of the pioneering Norwegian explorer.