Louis Armstrong’s wonderful world in Queens

4 mins read
PHOTO COURTESY OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG HOUSE MUSEUM Louis Armstrong, a legendary jazz musician, poses next to a painting of him.
Louis Armstrong, a legendary jazz musician, poses next to a painting of him.

The Louis Armstrong House Museum welcomes everyone in for a personal tour of his life and accomplishments at the house he shared with his wife, Lucille, in Corona.

Personal written letters, videos and other trinkets are found throughout the museum. The main entrance consists of souvenirs of mugs, postcards, T-shirts and albums.

The jazz icon made a tremendous impact on the world, especially in Queens. Armstrong took care of local residences’ mortgages, the neighborhood’s college and gave money to those who needed it most.

In Lucille Armstrong’s will, she requested that their home would turn into a museum so everyone could gain access and intimacy to how they lived. She considered this as a way to carry his legacy. No other family lived in the household after them and nothing changed.

In 1988, the Armstrong house was declared a New York City historical landmark. Queens College pushed for the house as a landmark and helped open it to the community by providing additional funding. In fact, there are archives by Louis Armstrong at Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library.

Certain streets and schools are named after Louis Armstrong. Tour guides provide evidence like personal photos and autobiographies written by Armstrong himself.

Before the commencement of the tour, a short video is presented. It contains a mini-biography and preview of the tour for visitors.

Tour groups are preferably small, because of the valuables in the house. Hyland Harris, an assistant at the museum, said many people come to admire Armstrong’s legacy.

“A lot of foreigners come here just for the museum. [They come from] places like Europe, Africa, South America and Australia. A tour group from Japan is coming later. I think the trip is worth it,” Harris said.

Harris is a fan of Armstrong’s work and loves sharing his passion for the jazz artist.

“Personally, I was always a fan of Armstrong before I worked here. Not only for his incredible talent, but also for his down-to-Earth personality. I love being able to share his story with people, especially those who travel just to see what I see in him,” Harris said.

Rooms like the kitchen and bathrooms are customized for the Armstrongs. The most expensive room of the house, the bathroom, is made out of solid gold.

Along with a walk through the basement, first and second floors of the house, visitors are permitted to enter the garden. Every year on Louis Armstrong’s birthday, Aug. 4, a party is held there in his honor, and the whole neighborhood celebrates his legacy.

Marcela Cardona, a sophomore at Borough of Manhattan Community College, encouraged not only museumgoers, but also everyone to pay a visit.

“As a regular museumgoer, I haven’t experienced a trip like this before. I felt as if I got more than what I paid for. I didn’t know much about Louis Armstrong, but I’m glad I do now. I’m from Corona as well, and I’m proud to be so close to an individual who has done so much for humanity,” Cardona said.

The museum will provide free admission for all CUNY students that provide a valid ID. Each ID provides entry for up to two guests. It is in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month in April.

Cheyna Mulligan

Cheyna Mulligan is a junior majoring in Media Studies. Email her at cheyna[at]theknightnews.com.

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