By KATE TAYLOR
Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, ventured a few sentences of Spanish. Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, called on Congress to pass immigration legislation. William C. Thompson Jr., a former comptroller, reminded the audience that his grandparents immigrated from the Caribbean. Adolfo Carrión Jr., a former Bronx borough president, simply urged Hispanics to vote.
In a sign of the critical role Hispanic voters are expected to play in the mayoral race this year, four candidates for the office went to the Washington Heights section of Manhattan on Wednesday to attend a ceremony to name a section of Broadway after a Dominican man who is thought to have been New York’s first non-Indian settler.
In 1613, 12 years before the Dutch founded New Amsterdam, Juan Rodriguez is believed to have arrived in what is now New York City, according to a report published last year by the Dominican Studies Institute at City College of the City University of New York. A free black man, he sailed from San Domingo, now Santo Domingo, with a Dutch sea captain, then remained here, most likely mastering the Indian language and setting up a trading post.
Prompted by the report’s publication, the City Council last year passed legislation to honor him with a section of Broadway, from 159th Street in Washington Heights to 218th Street in Inwood. (The renaming legislation was sponsored by another Rodriguez, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, apparently no relation.)