Cemeteries..., New Orleans
New Orleans lies about 6 feet below sea level. This caused a problem with burying the dead. If you did a hole 6 feet deep, it fills up with water.
At first the workers would push the floating coffins down with long sticks. Later, someone got the idea to drill holes into the coffins to make them sink. The resulting "gurgling" noises proved to be even more distressing to the loved ones of the deceased so this too was stopped.
Above-ground graves became the norm. New Orleans cemetaries are "streets" with rows of marble tombs and mausoleums. Walking around in one is a creepy way to spend some time, if you like that kind of thing.
Most cemetaries are closed on Sundays.
More cemetary photos are in the travelogue section.
Oh my, don't miss this one. Travel up Canal Street to the end of the line at Metarie Road, either by street car or city bus (both are a $1.25 each way) and see The Most Beautiful Cemetery in the NOLA area!
When you get off the bus or street car, head west on Metarie Road for about 1/4 mile, toward the underpass of the I 10 freeway. Go under the freeway and you are there. Be Very careful crossing the streets as traffic moves extremely fast through this area getting to the freeway and the traffic is quite heavy also.
I have never seen such beautiful monuments to the dead anywhere. A local recommended this place to me and I will be eternally greatful for the tip. (no pun intended).
If you continue up Metarie Road, you will cross a real life drainage canal (and maybe see some baby ducks too!) and reach a gas station with a convenience store if you need anything.
As we were finishing up our city tour, and just before we went to City Park, we passed the Greenwood Cemetery and I took this picture from the bus. We didn't get a chance to tour it.
This is the fireman's cemetery. It was founded by the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association (FCBA) in 1852 as permanent memorials to the volunteer firemen. This was the first above ground cemetery that was built without walls.
In 1852, an epidemic of yellow-fever struck in the US. By 1853, over 8,000 in the city had expired from the disease. Greenwood’s one hundred and fifty acres provided a place to bury the dead.
Twenty years later, Greenwood became home to the first Civil War memorial in New Orleans. A low mound marks the mass grave of six hundred Confederate soldiers. A statue of a Confederate infantryman resting on his rifle is on the top.
This picture mainly shows the BPOE tomb. According to the website:
..the tomb of Lodge No.30 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The fraternal order was founded in 1868 by a group of actors and musicians in New York. A majestic bronze elk stands guard over a burial mound blanketed with grass. A marble chamber beneath contains eighteen burial vaults. Its granite entrance employs the Doric style in its use of two fluted columns supporting an entablature. A clock with hands pointing to the 11th hour, symbolic of a ritual toast to absent members, adorns the pediment. Bronze doors seal the entry. The tomb was erected in 1912 by Albert Weiblen, a German immigrant and one of the most successful builders of tombs and cemetery monuments in the South.
Frankly, tourists are discouraged from straying 'off the beaten path' in New Orleans. Many of the most well-known tourist attractions, such as St. Louis Cemeteries #1 and #3, are directly next-door to high-crime areas and housing projects. Our innkeeper provided a color-coded walking map with the safest streets for walking through the French Quarter after dark. Stay in well-lighted areas!!
In any other city, visiting cemeteries probably wouldn't top the list of vacation activities - this activiy may be consideered 'off the beaten path'.
But in New Orleans there's organized tours of the cemeteries.
Pictured here is the St. Louis Cemetery #1. Burial place of many prominent New Orleanians, and several Vodoo practitioners also.
the Voodoo 'Queen' Marie Laveaux is buried here. You'll be able to spot her crypt by all the graffiti surrounding it. Kinda' like Jim Morrison's grave in Paris (the only other cemetery I've ever visited while vacationing), but the French post a guard to keep things under control.
It is spooky expeirence walking through one of the many over ground cemeteries, in which the deceased are put to rest in tombs built about the ground surface. (Bodies cannot be buried underground, because new Orleans is below sea level, and many buried bodies end up floating to the surface during floods)
The grave yards. The town sits below sea level so they can't bury their dead in the ground but they bury them in tombs. They have family tombs. So long as you have been dead for one year plus a day , they will open the tomb gather your ashes and place them in a drawer in the tomb and place the next body on top. The saying goes 'IF YOU LIVE LONG ENOUGH IN N.O. YOU WILL EVENTALY END UP ON TOP'. Don't venture into these graves yards alone ! Go with a tour group they are in HIGH CRIME area's!
I have read some real BS on this site about "the dangers of visiting cemeteries, especially at night...", blah, Blau, BLAU.
By ALL means, visit any cemetery you care to. You will be fine. No One is getting mugged. As for visiting cemeteries at night, you Can't! They close the gates at 4:30pm (2:30pm for Lafeyette's #1 in the Garden District). If you visit a cemetery after hours by jumping the wall, maybe you NEED to get mugged.
Seriously, there is a constant flow of tourists visiting Saint Louis #1 for instance, walking back and forth from the French Quarter. You don't really need a guide either, unless you are super interested in the history of some of the folks buried there. The foot paths at #1 have arrows painted on them to guide you, all by yourself.
Sorry to be so blunt but the pre info I got on cemeteries was the most inaccurate of any I received. Go to the cemeteries because they are beautiful works of art. There is no boogieman waiting for you there.