On Aug. 4, 1901, Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in New Orleans. Armstrong, who would go on to become arguably the most famous Jazz musician of all time, spent the first years of his life at 723 Jane Alley, the home seen at the left in the historic photograph. At the time, this neighborhood was a rough, impoverished part of town known as “the Battlefield.”
In 1964, years after Armstrong left New Orleans and achieved worldwide fame, Jane Alley, along with his former home there, was bulldozed to create space for the Orleans Parish Prison. The historic photograph seen here was taken just hours before Armstrong’s home was razed.
Today, the site is the courtyard for the New Orleans Police Headquarters. The Jane Alley area, located lakeside of Broad Street at the corner of Tulane Avenue, is now home to much of New Orleans’ prison and police facilities. The only reminder of the musical history of this site is a small plaque commemorating the birth of Armstrong.
Historic photograph courtesy of the Louisiana Digital Library. Research and present-day photo by Jack Gillespie