How to Tour Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans

Jazz is synonymous with the Big Easy, and there’s no bigger name in the history of the genre than Satchmo

(© Michael Ochs Archives / Owaki / Kulla / Corbis)

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Built in 1835, this Greek Revival structure just blocks from the river is the only mint to have produced both American and Confederate coinage. Though it retired from printing in 1909, the Old Mint now serves as part of the state museum, featuring live jazz twice a week in its state-of-the-art performance hall and a world-famous jazz collection that includes Louis Armstrong's first cornet, his iconic handkerchief (he always used a hankie to wipe the sweat from his brow when he performed) and hundreds of letters and recordings. When Armstrong returned to New Orleans for a visit in 1965, he identified the museum’s cornet as his own after recognizing the grooves in the mouthpiece, which he filed himself in order to improve the fit on his lips.

Five Essential Louis Armstrong Tunes to Listen to Before You Go

Selected by Joann Stevens, program manager of the Smithsonian Institution's Jazz Appreciation Month

Dipper Mouth Blues – This early composition by Louis Armstrong and his mentor, the legendary New Orleans cornet player Joseph “King” Oliver, was a featured piece of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. 

West End Blues - This King Oliver composition was popularized by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five.  The 1928 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974.     

Weatherbird Rag - This improvisational conversation between Armstrong and pianist Earl Hines has been called the most celebrated duet recording in the history of jazz.

Satchmo at the National Press Club: Red Beans and – Rice-ly Yours - Five months before his death, Armstrong transformed a National Press Club awards ceremony into a music celebration.  This Smithsonian Folkways Records recording, produced with The National Press Club and The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, captures history.  

What a Wonderful World – Armstrong made this tune by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss a global anthem of unity and optimism that joined Grammy Hall of Fame favorites in 1999.  


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