New York Today: 50 ‘Wonderful’ Years
By ALEXANDRA S. LEVINE OCT. 25, 2017
Louis Armstrong, with the producer Bob Thiele, in 1970. Doug Pizac/Associated Press
Good morning on this wishy-washy Wednesday.
Fifty years ago, the world heard Louis Armstrong’s flawlessly raspy voice sing “What a Wonderful World.”
He recorded the song in the summer, released it that fall, and in October of 1967, the melody made it to the Billboard easy-listening charts for the first time.
The song was inspired by a quaint, tree-lined slice of 107th Street in Corona, Queens, where Mr. Armstrong lived in a modest, red brick home for the last three decades of his life.
If you visit the location, now the Louis Armstrong House Museum, you’ll hear a recording of the musician describing the neighborhood:
“I saw three generations come up on that block. They’re all with the children and grandchildren, and they all come back to see Uncle Satchmo and Aunt Lucille. That’s why I can say I hear babies crying, I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. I got pictures of them when they was 5, 6 and 7 years old, and it is a wonderful world.”
Ricky Riccardi, director of the research collections at the museum, said Armstrong simply would not leave. “The fame continued to grow, the money continued to grow — after a while, even Lucille started to get the itch — but he wanted to be right here,” Mr. Riccardi said, and at a time of war and racial strife, “the way the people lived on this one block in Corona was a life lesson for him.”
The museum is celebrating the song’s anniversary with “50 Years of ‘What a Wonderful World,’” an exhibition that traces the song to when it was first conceived by the producer Bob Thiele and the songwriter George David Weiss.
Mr. Weiss’s daughter, Peggy Weiss Self, who was at the Manhattan recording studio on that day 50 years ago, told us how Armstrong took her “small hand in his large one and said, ‘So you’re George’s daughter!’”
“He shook my hand and said, ‘Pleased to meet you,’ and I giggled. He was so joyful it was contagious.”
The songwriter’s son, Bobby Weiss, said Armstrong “traveled the world as a kind of international ambassador of good will, always talking about peace and love,” which inspired the song lyrics.
You can learn more about the song and Armstrong’s legacy at the exhibition, on display through the end of November. You can view the original sheet music, photographs from recording sessions and Armstrong’s trumpet, among other artifacts.
“The song just isn’t showing any signs of slowing down,” Mr. Riccardi said. “This is the story of one song, a four-case exhibit, and we could probably do this with just about any song from his output.”
Here’s what else is happening:
Intervals of clouds and sunshine
Skies of blue, and clouds of white — but you might want to take an umbrella and a light jacket, just in case.
Expect a partly cloudy day with a slight chance of showers, and temperatures in the high 60s. (They’re calling this unseasonably warm October “hotumn.”)
In the News
• Jessica Sunderland, an Iraq War veteran, was transitioning to female when she was jailed in Suffolk County in 2012. After the jail refused to supply the hormones that she had been prescribed at a veterans’ hospital, she sued the county. [New York Times]
Ms. Sunderland has joined a growing list of transgender inmates who have used the courts to challenge what they have called an unfair lack of medical treatment in the nation’s prisons and jails. Annie Tritt for The New York Times
• Lord & Taylor’s flagship Fifth Avenue building, an icon to old-school retail, will become the global headquarters of office space start-up WeWork. [New York Times]
• The first day of the federal trial of Norman Seabrook, the ex-president of New York City’s correction officers’ union, highlighted the fear and loyalty he instilled in union members. [New York Times]
• Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that his affordable housing plan would reach its goal of building or preserving 200,000 below-market-rate apartments two years ahead of schedule. [New York Times]
• It’s late October, and yet summer hasn’t taken the hint. [New York Times]
• Columbia football keeps winning. Some fans aren’t happy about it. [New York Times]
The Columbia University football team, which has not had a winning season since 1996, is 6-0. John Tully for The New York Times
• The architect of a new condominium tower rising on East 31st Street said he was inspired in part by Manhattan’s most iconic skyscrapers. [New York Times]
• The M.T.A. debuted trains with folded up seats to make more room during rush hour. [New York Post]
• A legislator has introduced a bill that would let victims of “stealthing,” secretly removing a condom during sex, sue partners who commit the act. [New York Post]
• A study says New Yorkers can expect storms like Hurricane Sandy more frequently in the future. [Gothamist]
• Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Sideswiped by Glamour”
• For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Morning Briefing.
Coming Up Today
• Brooklyn residents can speak about their needs and concerns as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “City Hall in Your Borough” series, at Brooklyn College Student Center. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. [Free]
• A bill on scaffolding law, which would limit how long scaffolding can stay up without ongoing work, will be discussed at a public hearing at 250 Broadway, in the 16th floor committee room. 1 p.m.
• It’s one of your last chances to visit Chihuly Nights, an illuminated display of Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures, at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx (through Sunday). 6:30 p.m. [$38]
• Join the Secret Science Club for a talk by the evolutionary biologist Paul Turner on what it means to “go viral” — medically and scientifically — at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. 8 p.m. [Free]
• Friends of the Brothers, an Allman Brothers tribute band with close ties to the group, pays homage in a concert at Brooklyn Bowl on Wythe Avenue. 8 p.m. [$12]
• Nets host Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m. (YES). Dodgers host Astros in game two of the World Series, 8:09 p.m. (FOX). New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m. (FS1).
• Alternate-side parking remains in effect until Nov. 1.
• For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.
A swipe with no name. Christopher Gregory/The New York Times
The MetroCard will eventually bid us adieu. In the coming years, we’ll wave or tap our cellphones, credit or debit cards to get on the city’s subways and buses. So what will this new payment system be called?
London’s commuter smart card is called the Oyster. In Hong Kong, it’s the Octopus pass. Boston has the CharlieCard. Washington’s Metro takes the SmarTrip Card. And in Chicago, it’s the Ventra.
What should we name our new fare system? And why?
Share your suggestions in the comments, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, including your full name, age, and the neighborhood in which you live. We may contact you for possible inclusion in an upcoming story.
New York Today is a morning roundup that is published weekdays at 6 a.m. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.
For updates throughout the day, like us on Facebook.
What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at email@example.com, or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.
Follow the New York Today columnists, Alexandra Levine and Jonathan Wolfe, on Twitter.
You can find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.