03/18/14 1:00pm

Four girls eating Belgian Waffles

It’s time to party like it’s 1939… or 1964. Queens is the only county in the U.S. to host two World’s Fairs, and both historic events are celebrating major anniversaries this year (the fiftieth and seventy-fifth, respectively). On April 30, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated the first one in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which had just been created from a large tidal marsh and garbage dump. The air conditioner made its debut, as did color photographs, fluorescent lamps, nylon and pencil sharpeners. Early television sets and a futurist GM car were the rage as was a diner, which was relocated and is still open for business as the White Manna in Jersey City, NJ. Meanwhile Goldie Hawn, a teenager who had just moved from Maryland to NYC to pursue a career in showbiz, was discovered as a chorus line dancer at the Texas pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair. The Ford Mustang, Unisphere and Belgian waffle (above) all owe part of their fame to this fair, which actually ran for two, six-month seasons in 1964 and 1965 and attracted more than 51 million people. Corona resident Louis Armstrong (arriving at the scene below) played his trumpet, and various countries and regions promoted their good sides. Wisconsin had a pavilion exhibiting the planet’s largest chunk of cheese, while Miami displayed a parrot jungle, and Hawaii operated the Five Volcanoes restaurant.

On March 22nd, this year’s first World’s Fair-related commemorative event will take place when the Greater Astoria Historical Society screens The World of Tomorrow, a film on the 1939 Fair. Then, over the next six months, the  New York Hall of Science, Noguchi Museum, Parks Department, Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Center, Queens Historical Society, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre, The Port Authority of NY & NJ and other local entities, such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, will hold exhibits, plays, concerts and even a beer festival to commemorate.

Details: Click here for a full list of events, times and locations.

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01/29/14 1:00pm

Satchmo

He had good reasons to sing “It’s a wonderful world.” In the 1950s, Louis Armstrong was the unofficial “Goodwill Ambassador” of the United States as his jazz music had fervent fans all over the planet. In 1957, the trumpeter toured South America, performing 67 concerts over six weeks in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela. Satchmo hung out musicians in Buenos Aires, spent time with President Juscelino Kubitschek and popular singer Cauby Peixoto in Brazil, graced the cover of periodicals in Chile and Uruguay, and performed a mock bullfight on stage in Caracas. The mementos he brought home — including records, tapes, magazines and photographs – are on display through April 30 as part of Señor Satchmo: Louis Armstrong in South America, an exhibit at his Corona house, which is now a museum (master bathroom below). During February, as part of Black History Month, each museum visitor will receive a complimentary, limited-edition photo of Armstrong in Buenos Aires in October 1957, wearing a catcher’s mask to protect his trumpet-playing lips and doing his best to avoid the mobs of adoring fans fighting for a chance to see and touch him.

Details: Señor Satchmo: Louis Armstrong in South America, Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56 107th Street, Corona, on display through April 30th, complimentary photo offer in February with admission ($10/$7 seniors, students and children/$6 group rate/free for children under four), museum hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 am to 5 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 pm.

Bathroom

Photos by the LAHM

12/02/13 1:00pm

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They will deck the halls! Many, many halls. On December 8th, the Queens Historical Society will host the 26th Annual Holiday Historic House Tour through Flushing and Corona. A trolley will bring participants to seven landmarked sites, which will offer special seasonal programming, a glimpse at life during holidays past and refreshments. Consider the following:

  • Kingsland Homestead was built around 1785 and occupied by the same family until the 1930s.
  • Voelker Orth Museum, Bird Sanctuary & Victorian Garden (1891) was purchased by an immigrant who published German-language newspapers. It was home to three generations of one family.
  • Lewis H. Latimer House Museum (1889) was home of African-American inventor Lewis H. Latimer, who lived there from 1903 until his death in 1928. The son of fugitive slaves, he played a vital role in the development of the telephone and the incandescent light bulb.
  • Friends Meeting House (1694) is the first house of worship in the village of Flushing and NYC’s oldest structure in continuous use for religious purposes. The venue also has an historic cemetery.
  • Flushing Town Hall (1862) was the cultural and political focal point of the village of Flushing. The building features a rich history that includes visits by dignitaries such as PT Barnum and Tom Thumb, operas, murder trials and even a jail cell. Frederick Douglass once spoke from the portico.
  • Bowne House (1661) is known for its connection to the principle of freedom of conscience in the United States. Nine generations of the Bowne family lived in the house (below).
  • Louis Armstrong House Museum (1910) was purchased by jazz legend Louis Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, in 1943. For the season, the house (above) will feature rare audio clips from Satchmo’s personal recordings.

Details: Holiday Historic House Tour, Organized from Kingsland Homestead, 143-35 37th Avenue, Flushing, December 8th, 1 pm to 5 pm, $10 in advance, $12 at the door, children under 12 are free. (more…)

10/09/13 1:00pm

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Now this is a party that Satchmo would have loved! On October 15th, the Louis Armstrong House Museum will host its 10th anniversary bash, and the joint will be jumping like never before with live jazz, delicious food and a special unveiling. The Hot Sardines, which went from playing a Queens coffee shop to headlining Lincoln Center, will provide the jazz. These cats take a blustery brass lineup, mix it with a rhythm section led by a stride-piano virtuoso, and tickle the notes with a frontwoman with a sultry voice. In tune with the night’s theme, cuisine will be provided by Tamara Reynolds, a trained musician who shifted gears after she fell in love with the kitchen. A regular on The Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats, Reynolds has run the the Sunday Night Dinner in Astoria, an underground dining club, for the last 10 years. She’s also the chef/owner of the traveling feast Van Alst Kitchen. The night will also feature the unveiling of a little-known Louis Armstrong life mask, a plaster disguise with a painted, bronze-patina finish probably created in the 1960s. Life masks are a distinct genre of sculpture that has existed for centuries. Specific to the famous, there are also life masks of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ludwig Von Beethoven and Tutankhamen.

Details: Louis Armstrong House Museum’s 10-Year Anniversary Bash, 34-56 107th Street, Corona, October 15th, 6 pm to 10 pm, $30, $45 and $100, including beer and wine. Advance purchase only: $45 tickets include a limited-edition commemorative print of Armstrong, while $100 tickets include the print and a one-year museum membership.

Photo via Louis Armstrong House Museum

09/30/13 1:00pm

Unisphere ()

No local stone will be left unturned next Friday, when Queens College hosts Quintessential Queens: Celebrating America’s Fourth Largest City, an all-day, eight-hour conference. As part of ongoing 75th anniversary celebrations, the Flushing university will bring together a hodgepodge of outstanding speakers, including academics, economists, preservationists and artists. City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer will give a lecture about culture, while QC biology professor John Waldman will talk about the borough’s natural landscape. Wellington Chen from the Chinatown Partnership will discuss demographics in Flushing, while Jonathan Bowles from the Center for an Urban Future will imagine the borough in the year 2030. Paolo Javier, the borough’s poet laureate, will offer verse, the official Queens historian Jack Eichenbaum will discuss the county’s place in U.S. history and QC professor Nicole Cooley will look at how Queens fares in the literary world. Plus, local nonprofits, such as the Alley Pond Environmental Center, the Museum of the Moving ImageFlushing Town Hall and the Louis Armstrong House Museum, will staff informational booths.

Details: Quintessential Queens: Celebrating American’s Fourth Largest City, Queens College, LeFrak Concert Hall, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, October 4th, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, $20 for all day plus lunch.

Photo by the Queens Tourism Council

08/19/13 1:00pm

SatchmoBlockParty

It’s so much fun it stops traffic! On Tuesday, the Louis Armstrong House Museum will close off 107th Street for automobiles and host its annual Jazzmobile summer block party. The event will kick off at 4 pm with a crafts workshop hosted by the Queens Museum of Art, followed by story time with English teacher/author Mick Carlon, who will read excerpts from his book, Travels with Louis, and a hula hoop extravaganza with The Hoop Movement. All the while, gourmet food truck Gorilla Cheese NYC will sell its line of specialty and grilled cheese sandwiches. The live music will start at 7 pm with New York style Latin jazz by Willie Martinez & La Familia Sextet, a legendary group that mixes African-Caribbean rhythms with the harmony and improvisation of American jazz.

Details: Jazzmobile Block Party, Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56 107th Street, Corona, August 20th, 4 pm – 9 pm, free.

Photo by Bryan Chan

07/03/13 1:00pm

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As it has for the past five years, Queens will be left in the dark during NYC’s 2013 Fourth of July celebration. The Macy’s fireworks will again shoot over the Hudson River, making the best viewing spots in Manhattan and even New Jersey. So the best chance to see an illuminated Queens sky is at Citi Field tonight (July 3rd) after the Mets game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, which starts at 7:10 pm. However, the borough offers so many other fun activities over Independence Weekend that nobody will miss the pyrotechnics. On July 4th, the Louis Armstrong House Museum launches its summer concert series with Bria Skonberg, a fast-rising trumpet star, and her jazz band at 2 pm. An hour later, the Z Hotel’s rooftop party gets started with a live deejay on this 300-capacity roof, which offers breath-taking views of Midtown Manhattan, the East River, the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge and Queens. On July 6th, Ridgewood Social will organize a huge, family-friendly potluck picnic at Grover Cleveland Park from noon to 3:30 pm. Participants bring food, drinks, creative supplies and silverware, and they enjoy painting, drawing, knitting, crochet and the opportunity for youngsters to slay a dragon. Also on July 6th, MoMA PS1 will hold its second nine-hour Warm Up Series jam with the doors opening at noon. On July 7th, The Inner Roots Band will bring its unique style of reggae to the Queens Central Library at 3 pm. Formerly known as “Ryddim Kings,” this group takes audiences on a journey through Jamaican music with ska, dance hall and vintage classics by Bob Marley.

07/01/13 1:00pm
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Two very special birthdays are celebrated on July 4th. This year, the Louis Armstrong House Museum will observe Satchmo’s entry into the world with live music and tasty treats. The Hot Jazz/Cool Garden Summer Concert Series kicks off this Thursday with Bria Skonberg and her “Hot Five”. A native of British Columbia, this trumpeter/vocalist/composer was recently nominated “Up and Coming Jazz Artist of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association, due in large part to her tremendous success since moving to New York City about two years ago. When not grooving to the music, attendees can enjoy Louis Armstrong’s favorite red beans and rice recipe, sweet tea and, yes, cake. Satchmo couldn’t ask for a better birthday party, and since this is an afternoon event, attendees will have plenty of time to travel to nighttime fireworks displays related to the day’s other major birthday celebration. Details: Hot Jazz/Cool Garden Summer Concert, Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56 107th St., Corona, July 4, 2 pm – 4 pm, $20 with special advance tickets promotions.
06/10/13 11:00am

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It’s New York State Museum Week, and the living is easy, especially in Queens. Starting today through June 16, five local cultural venues will offer discounts and promotional offers to visitors. Mention “Museum Week” and receive a complimentary collectible at the Louis Armstrong House Museum (while supplies last) along with a 10 percent discount in the gift store. Bring a friend for free with two-for-one admission at the Noguchi (above), King Manor and Moving Image museums. At the Queens Botanical Gardens, there will be half-off admission. Meanwhile, the Queens County Farm Museum will offer free tours. Statewide, participants include about 250 venues, stretching from Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, where El Museo del Barrio will have free admission on June 11, to the Hyde Collection in upstate Glens Falls, where visitors will receive a free poster.

04/01/13 9:00am

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Image Source: All That Is Interesting

It’s Jazz Appreciation Month, and the living is easy! Schools, music societies, radio stations and enthusiasts around the country will celebrate this U.S.-born musical genre throughout April. In Corona, the Louis Armstrong House Museum will commemorate with tours featuring an ultra rare recording of Satchmo performing one of his all-time masterpieces, West End Blues, at Freedomland in 1961. This recording, which was recently donated to the Armstrong House by the son of Freedomland sound engineer Peter Denis, ties into the exhibit Louis Armstrong at Freedomland that runs all month. In addition, three rare, remastered CDs from the late Gösta Hägglöf‘s Ambassador Records label of Sweden — Because of You, 1950-1953; Heavenly Music, 1949-1957; and Moments to Remember, 1952-1956 — will be on sale in the gift shop. The month will end with International Jazz Day on April 30, and Armstrong House archivist Ricky Riccardi will lead a listening session and lecture starting at 2 pm.

Jazz Appreciation Month
April 2 to April 30
Louis Armstrong House Museum
34-56 107th Street, Corona
Tues.-Fri., 10am-5pm; Sat.-Sun., noon-5pm| $10