In Spring of 2016, Lower East Side resident Jeff Caltabiano kick-started a campaign to rename the Williamsburg Bridge after jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins. While the proposal garnered a bit of support among residents, Caltabiano’s efforts just received a major boost toward becoming a reality as City Council member Stephen Levin has introduced a bill to make the change happen, reports Bowery Boogie.
Between 1959 and 1961, Rollins lived at the erstwhile 400 Grand Street, which has since been replaced by the Essex Crossing development., Every day for those two years, the musician would head to the pedestrian path of the Williamsburg Bridge and fill the atmosphere with musical bliss. Rollins says that he was led to the bridge because at the time he had “nowhere to practice” and he found the bridge to be a beautiful place to seek refuge.
“I first listened to Sonny Rollins at the age of 13. His music and his story has stayed with me to this day,” said Councilman Stephen Levin in a statement. “Looking around New York City, you’ll see plenty of monuments to politicians. You won’t see many monuments to cultural pioneers that embody the spirit of the city.”
While the bill is very much in its infancy, it has also garnered the support of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. The bill must now obtain City Council approval as well as approval from New York State before the Williamsburg Bridge can become the Sonny Rollins Bridge.