The Louis Armstrong Center opens in Corona

Thursday, July 6, 2023
CORONA, Queens (WABC) -- He was called "Satchmo," and "Pops" by his friends, but Louis "Louie" Armstrong was one of the most famous Americans of the 20th century.

His home in the Corona section of Queens has long been open to the public, but now everyone will be welcome at a beautiful new museum across the street, The Louis Armstrong Center.

Armstrong is still remembered for singing "What a Wonderful World" but his world was centered in Queens and the new center there is a fitting tribute to this giant of jazz.

The new center will act as a beacon for jazz lovers from around the world and is a way to ensure his legacy won't be forgotten.

"He was a global icon. He traveled to over 62 different countries, but he came home to Corona," said Regina Bain, Executive Director.

He came home to the house he shared with his wife, Lucille.

For a man of his means, it is modest, but a visit there is always meaningful especially for musicians like Jon Faddis.

"This is Louis' favorite horn," he said.

The one he played when he bought ice cream for the local kids.

"And, I think the message that Louis Armstrong was sending is: 'Even though I've been around the world, even though I'm famous, I'm one of you. I'm not better than you. I'm one of you," Faddis said.

The new Louis Armstrong Center features his wonderful world in all of its many facets, both public and private.

"It's a classic rags to riches story," said Ricky Riccardi, Director, Research Collections.

The story too is of a triumph over racism.

"A lot of discrimination. A lot of threats, and to be able to come through that with a smile on his face is very powerful. It shows the strength of his character," Faddis said.

It offers a way for future generations to be inspired.

The center is home to more than 60,000 items, an archive so vast only a small fraction of it is on view at any one time. But the opening exhibit gives a great overview of Armstrong's life and explains why he still has so much to teach us, more than half a century after his death. You can see for yourself at his home and museum. You can get there on the 7 train.

Learn more about The Louis Armstrong Center HERE.

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