- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

BALTIMORE — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi returned triumphantly to this Little Italy neighborhood yesterday to see the street she grew up on renamed in her honor.

“Every step that I took to the speakership began in this neighborhood,” said an unusually effervescent Mrs. Pelosi, a California Democrat who this week became the first female House speaker and the United States’ highest ranking woman in elected office.

“The women in this community were very strong,” she said.

More than 300 people — many of them Italian-Americans waving miniature American flags — gathered on the neighborhood’s narrow streets to see the block where Mrs. Pelosi, herself an Italian-American, spent her youth. Mrs. Pelosi grew up near Albemarle and Fawn streets.

“It’s once in a lifetime to know someone is a former neighbor to be speaker of the House,” said lifelong Little Italy resident Anna Brotto, 71. “It’s a great thing, no?”

Mrs. Pelosi, 66, learned politics at the knee of her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., a Democrat with more than 20 straight terms in elected office, including jobs as Baltimore mayor and U.S. congressman.

Her brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, who also served as mayor of Baltimore and remains a fixture in Little Italy, presided over the unveiling of the ceremonial street sign that read: “Via Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi.”

The ceremonial sign was colored blue to differentiate it from the city’s official green street signs.

The event attracted a who’s-who of Maryland Democratic politics, including House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, former Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and former Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.

Democratic Baltimore officials on hand included City Council members Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mary Pat Clarke, Helen Holton, Keiffer Jackson Mitchell and Mayor-designate Sheila Dixon, who will inherit the office when Maryland Gov.-elect Martin O’Malley takes office Jan. 17.

Mrs. Pelosi could not resist a nod to Mrs. Dixon.

“Mayor Dixon,” she said, “it is a thrill to hear we are going to have a mayor who is a woman.”

Repeatedly, the remarks at the ceremony returned to stories of the legendary D’Alesandro family.

Mr. D’Alesandro recalled how their childhood home in a corner row house had been a constant hub of altruistic political deal-making and favor-brokering.

“I see in Nancy the culmination of all that work,” he said.

Mrs. Pelosi told the crowd that her parents’ devout Catholicism was a stronger influence than their politicking.

“My parents did not raise me to be speaker of the House,” she said. “They raised me to be holy. They raised me to do the right thing. … They were on the side of the angels.”

Mr. O’Malley, who currently is serving his second term as mayor of Baltimore and organized the street-naming event, also evoked Mrs. Pelosi’s famous parents and her humble beginning “right here in the basement of this row house.”

“It’s right here in this neighborhood that she first heard the call to public service and it was her parents calling her to public service,” he said.

The street naming was part of three days of festivities to mark Mrs. Pelosi’s historic ascent to the speaker’s post. Earlier yesterday, she laid flowers at a statue of her father in Baltimore.

Previously she dined as a special guest at the Italian Embassy; hosted a “swearing-in celebration concert” in the Great Hall of the National Building Museum; and held an “open house for the People’s House,” in keeping with the Democrats’ professed allegiance with the common man.

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