Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Wooster Square Tour

Luisa DeLauro Corner

Corner of Chapel & Academy Street

Luisa DeLauro, c. 1940s. Courtesy U.S. Congressional Representative Rosa DeLauro.

Born December 24, 1913 at 111 Wooster Street, one of six children, Luisa Canestri grew up in the heart of New Haven’s Italian American community and spent most of her childhood in her mother’s pastry shop, Canestri’s. She married Ted DeLauro in 1938 and they successfully balanced a life of family and community service. They had one daughter, Rosa, now U.S. Congresswoman for Connecticut’s 3rd District.

Luisa and Ted dedicated their lives to public service and could often be found sitting with neighbors at their kitchen table—particularly newly immigrated families—doing all they could to help them overcome whatever obstacle they were facing. No stranger to hard work, Luisa worked in a New Haven sweatshop, sewing shirt collars for pennies while raising her daughter.

Luisa holds the record as the longest serving member of the New Haven Board of Alderman, serving for 35 years after having been first elected from the 8th Ward in 1965. During her time on the Board she served on many committees including the Board of Finance for twelve years.

Luisa wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, and focused on issues concerning seniors and children. She fought for the creation of senior centers throughout the City, and remains proud that the first senior center in the city was located in the Wooster Square area. In 1971, she sponsored a bill designating Wooster Square as New Haven’s first Historic District and just two years later, she worked with other community members to plan the first Cherry Blossom Festival which is a treasured New Haven tradition. She received the Friend of Wooster Square award in April, 2015. She continues to live in New Haven near her daughter Rosa and son-in-law.

  • Text source courtesy U.S. Congressional Representative Rosa DeLauro.

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