Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard named for first Missouri female in Congress

6:07 AM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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By Heidi Glaus

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The boulevard between the Arch and the Mississippi River is the topic of this week's Hey Heidi! because Bailey from Wentzville wants to know how it got its name.

It's a street traveled by tourists, cruised along side of by barges and passed over on daily commutes, but most people who drive along Leonor K. Sullivan have no idea why it's named after her.

Zelli Fischetti, the Assistant Director of the State Historical Society, isn't one of those people.

"She was born in St. Louis in 1902, went to school here and graduated from Washington University and at one time was the head of a business school in St. Louis before she married her husband," Fischetti explains.

Her husband was a congressman in the Third Congressional District and she served as his administrative aide until he died in 1951.

"She wanted to fill his seat and the democratic powers said no and so the following year which would have been 1952 she ran on her own ticket and beat six other Democrats in the primary," Fischetti goes on to say.

She won the election and became the first woman elected to Congress from Missouri.

"And for many, many years remained the only woman elected to congress from Missouri," Fischetti adds.

She served more than 20 years and made a lasting impression on the nation.

"She was a consumer advocate and was involved in a lot of consumer legislation. She felt her biggest accomplishment was authoring the food stamp program although she didn't like the way it turned out," Fischetti says.

Her list of accomplishments is long and of course includes that street named after her.

"Well the street used to be Wharf Street and they changed the name to Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard in '83 because she had been instrumental in the legislation that got the Arch built," Fischetti explains.

She died in 1988 leaving behind a remarkable legacy and a boulevard hopefully you'll appreciate a little more the next time you travel along it.

If you have a Hey Heidi! question, email Heidi at hglaus@ksdk.com.

 

KSDK

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