A downtown St. Louis bridge has a new name.
Until Monday, what locals call the Poplar Street Bridge was technically known as the Bernard F. Dickmann Bridge after a 1930s St. Louis mayor.
But the bridge spanning the Mississippi River and connecting St. Louis to Illinois will now be officially known as the Congressman William L. Clay Sr. Bridge.
Clay is a former Democratic congressman and civil rights leader. Clay was Missouri’s first black Representative, and helped found the Congressional Black Caucus.
Speaking at a dedication ceremony Monday, Clay joked that the dedication was “payback” from Dickmann.
“I’m sure that Bernard would consider this payback time," Clay said. "Because the first post office I named as a member of Congress was to rename the main post office after Bernard Dickmann. So he’s getting to pay it back at this point.”
Clay was joined at the ceremony by and his son (current Representative Lacy Clay Jr.), St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.
But will locals refer to the bridge by its new name? Slay weighed in on this in his remarks:
St. Louisans on both sides of the river have a habit of calling things by names other than ones we give them. The Bernard F. Dickmann Bridge is more widely known as the Poplar Street Bridge, the name that early traffic reporters gave it. I’d like this dedication to begin an exception: if you live on the Missouri side of this bridge, I hope you will differentiate yourself from our Illinois neighbors and henceforth refer to this bridge as “the Clay Sr. bridge.” The bridge and Congressman deserve the honor.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel