You’d never image the itineraries and special places that it’s possible to discover in this variegated and surprising borough of New York.
I mean the parks, the museums, the colorful and lively multiculturalism of an area getting more and more livable and safe.
I think about the mythic stadium of the New York Mets and the facilities of the US Tennis Open – taking place right inside the Flushing Meadows Corona Park every year – the small towns – I cannot help but mention the wonderful town garden of Forest Hills – and a series of symbol places that only few people know and that alone worth it the discover of this area.
As the chance to visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum, a simple three stocks red bricks house in Corona, an area of Queens, where the great American jazzer lived for over 30 years together with his fourth wife Lucille Wilson and where he died on July 6th 1971.
Louis Armstrong – his friends called him Satchmo, from the expression “Satchelmout” that is “of generous mouth”, referred to his big smile, the improbably skill of puffing cheeks when he played his cornet and his great passion for food – loved immensely his house in Corona.
He had never got one before, despite the success and the immense fortune got over his career, he remained the simple boy born in a borough of New Orleans from a humble Afro-American family arrived to Louisiana in chains in middle 1800s and successively freed.
Born poor and with a destiny already marked – we’d say today – but with a contagious smile and a special gift – his voice – that combined with the skill of playing the cornet (a variant of the trumpet very famous at that time) as only few ones in the world, made him a downright world legend of jazz in few years.
When his wife Lucille bought the house in Corona, Louis was in tour.
Once come back, almost incredulous and so excited by the news of having his home at last (despite he was already at the apex of success and millionaire) invited the taxi driver who took him home from the airport to have lunch with them to celebrate.
And when the fame furtherly got brought many people pushing him to purchase a house in a more luxurious and fashion borough, Armstrong refused categorically.
Corona, borough of immigrants from the world and simple people, was his home by now. He wouldn’t have renounced to his daily routine, the chats with his barber, the children ringing the bell to listen to him playing the mythical cornet and improvising live sessions together with him, and his gigantic meals with the friends of ever!
The guided tour of the Louis Armstrong House Museum develops like that.
Thanks to small tales and many curious issues alternated with music and laughs, right as if Armstrong was still there telling little stories to entertain his guests and eating red beans soup – he was really greedy for it!
You’ll discover the private Louis Armstrong, funny and irreverent, unselfish and benefactor – “he gave more money than he really gained” (quote) – you’ll discover funny anecdotes about his life and his performances, you’ll have the chance to listen to his raspy voice in more occasions and admire his beloved trumpet.
The Museum was opened in 2003. From Lucille’s death on nothing was touched or modified. Everything remained the same.
While entering the effect looks like finding oneself catapulted into a house of the New Yorker suburbs in the 1950s: furniture, kitchen and furnishings included. Besides the huge music (in coils and cassettes) and photographic archive – the beloved collection of artistic collages – kept in Armstrong’s studio.
From 2018, thanks to an important private donation, the entire archive was completely digitalized and today it is accessible for all in a special section of the museum official website. Find it here.
A wonderful idea to satisfy fans and lovers and to allow them to visit virtually the Louis Armstrong House Museum, from all over the world.
“I never tried to prove nothing, just always wanted to give a good show. My life has been my music, it’s always come first,
but the music ain’t worth nothing, if you can’t lay it on the public.
The main thing is to live for that audience, cause what you’re there for is to please the people.”
The Louis Armstrong House Museum is located at 34/56 107th Street in Corona, Queens.
You can reach the area by subway line 7 (lilac color) getting off at 111th St stop in Roosevelt Ave.
Follow strictly my indications because the road signs don’t make the bearing easy.
From Roosevelt Ave take 108th St on the right as far as crossing 37th Ave, turn left and then immediately right into 107th St. A few minutes’ walk taking directly to the entrance of the museum, adjoining the original entrance of the house.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10am-5pm. Saturday-Sunday 12pm-5pm. It is closed on all Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Admission: Adults $12, groups over 8 people $7, children under 5 free. The price of admission includes a guided house tour (in English) and access to the garden. The tours start every hour on the hour (last tour of the day starts at 4pm) and they last 45 minutes about.
“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”