Back in 2015 when I accompanied my friend on her work trip to New Orleans, I spent the days walking around and exploring by myself and I saw two cemeteries of note while on my travels. The first of which I’m writing about today: Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1.
I hopped on a streetcar and took my first trip to the Garden District. Nestled in between all of these exquisite southern estates is a decaying, and creepy, graveyard.
First on my list to see was the grave of voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. These graveyards are filled with decrepit mausoleums and crumbling graves and I had no idea how to find her grave. I walked around and Googled photos of her gravesite and finally came across her grave which was covered in XXX’s (according to the folklore if you write three x’s, turn around three times, knock on the grave, and yell your wish out loud it would be granted). According to Wikipedia as of March 2015, you can no longer access this graveyard without a tour, so I’m glad I went in February 2015!
The way these stones were quickly decaying was spooky, even in the early afternoon walking around by myself (I would run into the occasional fellow tourist, which was both unnerving and comforting at the same time). Another famous resident of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is Homer Adolf Plessy, of the landmark civil rights case Plessy Vs. Ferguson. This ruling enforced the “separate but equal” standards for segregated areas for whites and African Americans. (It wasn’t overturned until 1954.)
Other notable residents of No. 1 are Ernest M. Morial (the first African American mayor of New Orleans), a chess champion named Paul Morphy, and in 2010, actor Nicholas Cage purchased a pyramid shaped tomb so he could be buried here once he passes. That last one is 100% odd.
An hour or two spent wandering around this historical graveyard is a must if you’re visiting New Orleans. I’m sure there are nightly ghost tours now, too, and considering New Orleans is considered one of the most haunted cities in America, ghost tours there are incredibly cool. Happy grave haunting!