Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #23

Louis Armstrong (1901 – 1971)


Though Louis Armstrong might be closely associated with New Orleans (his birthplace and that of his musical style, jazz), he established deep roots in New York early in his career, both personally and professionally. After spending his 20’s playing cornet on riverboats up and down the Mississippi, Armstrong came to the Big Apple to play the Harlem jazz clubs during the height of the Renaissance. Keeping a busy schedule, traveling the world for his concerts, he always came back to Harlem to play at venues like the Apollo Theater and Connie’s. Unlike many of his contemporaries, though, Armstrong did not live in Harlem, but preferred a cozy house on a quiet block in the Queens neighborhood of Corona. Now a historic house museum, the Louis Armstrong House is one of the few museums of its kind that truly feels livable. With his wife Lucille, Armstrong remained in Queens for the rest of his life and is buried in Flushing Cemetery with a headstone that simply features his nickname, “Satchmo”. Today, the library of Queens College features the richest collection of his work and memorabilia in its Louis Armstrong Archives.


1 Comment

  1. Oh Satchmo! What a fabulous musician. As I type this I hear his magnificent rendition of Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans. However, my most cherished Louis Armstrong recording is the duet(s) he did with Ella Fitzgerald with none other than the late, great Oscar Peterson on piano. In particular is their rendition of the Vernon Duke/Yip Harburg classic, April in Paris. Yip Harburg reportedly cried when he heard that recording for the first time.

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