The Iroquois Theater
Stop 4 of 10 on the tour The Birthplace of Jazz: A Walking Tour Through New Orleans's Musical Past
The red brick building next door to The Eagle Saloon is the former home of The Iroquois Theater.
This African American vaudeville and movie theater operated from 1911-1920. One of the first theaters to feature jazz in a concert setting, it was eventually eclipsed by the larger Lyric Theater that opened in 1920.
In the era of Jim Crow, new, independent theater houses dedicated to African American performers and audiences opened throughout the South. The "Back of Town" neighborhood in the 400 block of South Rampart was a hub of African American entertainment and socializing in New Orleans.
As a young teen growing up in the "Back of Town" neighborhood, Louis Armstrong frequented movies at the theater, and he once won a talent show after he dipped his face in flour, an ironic twist on the usual practice of performing in blackface.
"Some nights we would see moving pictures at the Iroquois Theater---10 cents each for May Ann + Tom, 5 cents for Mama Lucy, + me. (I won an amateur contest --- dip face in flower [flour]." - Louis Armstrong