Legislation to Name Williamsburg Bridge For Sonny Rollins Introduced in City Council

Sonny Rollins on the Williamsburg Bridge in 1966.

Sonny Rollins on the Williamsburg Bridge in 1966.

The campaign to name the Williamsburg Bridge for Jazz great Sonny Rollins has taken an important step. City Council member Stephen Levin of Brooklyn has introduced legislation to make the change.

Back in April, we first told you about the effort by local resident Jeff Caltabiano to honor Rollins. The legendary jazz saxophonist lived on the Lower East Side from 1959-1961. During that time, Rollins walked up onto the Williamsburg Bridge every day to play the sax, and in the process, experienced a creative revival. The experience came to be known as Rollins’ “sabbatical.”

Levin’s bill is being supported by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. In a statement, Levin said, “I first listened to Sonny Rollins at the age of 13. His music and his story has stayed with me to this day. 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.”

In addition to City Council approval, the State Legislature would also need to sign off on changing the name of the bridge. Caltabiano said Brooklyn Borough President Adams is working with lawmakers to sponsor a state bill.

As part of the campaign, there’s a new website, which you can find here. The Sonny Rollins Bridge Project, an organization Caltabiano founded to support the renaming effort, has also produced a short documentary. See it here:

Sonny Rollins Bridge from Sonny Rollins Bridge Project on Vimeo.