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About this exhibit
Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 - July 6, 1971) was born in New Orleans, but like so many of our borough’s residents he embraced his adoptive neighborhood of Corona just as it embraced him. Louis may have been on the road frequently for much of the time he owned the house on 107th Street, but the same warmth and kindness he showed his neighbors came with him on his travels, earning him the nickname “Ambassador Satch”.
Louis Armstrong was an entertainment icon. He could have lived anywhere he wanted, but he chose Corona and never wavered in his love for the neighborhood and the people who inhabited it. “We don’t think that we could be more relaxed and have better neighbors any place else,” Louis wrote in 1970. “So we stay put. After all—we have a very lovely home.” Louis appreciated being treated as a regular civilian in his beloved neighborhood and was adored by neighbors young and old.
At home, Louis’ domain was his den. In his den he had state of the art stereo equipment, including a reel-to-reel tape recorder which he would use to capture aural artifacts including candid conversations and dub commercial recordings onto tape to listen to on the road. As a hobby, Louis would create intricate collages, filling scrapbooks, decorating the wall behind his stereo, and covering the tape boxes themselves. Much of Louis’s life was contained on the outside and the inside of those tape boxes and in his other collages.
When Louis was on the road, he shared the same love that he showed to his neighbors with fans all over the world, along with brilliant music. He had audiences with the Pope, cracked the Iron Curtain with a historic tour of communist countries in 1965, and toured Asia and Africa. His plane was met by thousands of fans when it landed in countries all over Europe. Armstrong knew that he couldn’t communicate with words with many of his overseas fans, but he surely communicated with his music. “A note’s a note in any language,” he said.