There are over 40 cemeteries in the New Orleans area. Some you can take a self guided tour of; others are best toured with an experienced tour guide. The first New Orleans cemetery, St. Peter’s was established in 1721 by the Catholic Diocese and was designed for below ground burials. St Peter’s cemetery does not exist any longer but rests where a Superdome parking lot now sits. However, due to the New Orleans high water table the underground burial system did not work out to good. When heavy rains or flooding came the caskets tended to pop up out of the earth. After the Great New Orleans Fire in 1788 the city was redesigned and in 1789 St Louis Cemetery #1 was established with raised tombs using French and Spanish tradition. St. Louis Cemetery # 2 was built in 1823, Lafayette Cemetery in 1833, followed by St. Louis # 3 in 1854. These new cemeteries with their fancy tombs, elaborate stone crypts, mausoleums and their park like setting came to resemble small villages. Today they are know by the nickname of “Cities of the Dead”
St Louis Cemetery #1 * Oldest and most famous
St Louis Cemetery #1 is the oldest and most famous of our New Orleans Cemeteries. It was founded in 1789 as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after the great French Quarter fire in 1788. The cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and it is the oldest active cemetery in New Orleans. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is located just outside of the French Quarter at the corner of St. Louis & Basin Streets; right next door to the Basin Street Station Welcome Center. This cemetery and was made famous worldwide by the 1969 movie Easy Rider. In St Louis Cemetery No 1 you will find Etienne de Boré, a wealthy pioneer of the sugar industry and the first mayor of New Orleans; Daniel Clark, financial supporter of the American Revolution; Paul Morphy, world famous chess champion; Homer Plessy, the plaintiff from the landmark 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights; and Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, the first African-American mayor of New Orleans. But most notable includes the famed oven wall vault, the supposed resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. In 2010, actor Nicolas Cage purchased a pyramid shaped tomb to be his future final resting place. Access to St Louis Cemetery #1 is free.
Free Tours By Foot offers guided tours of St Louis Cemetery #1.
Save Our Cemeteries offers guided tours of St Louis Cemetery #1.
Lafayette Cemetery #1
Lafayette Cemetery #1 is located in the heart of the Garden District comprising of the block between Washington Ave, Sixth, Prytania, and Coliseum streets. The cemetery was established in 1833 and was named for the City of Lafayette, which is what the area was at the time. The cemetery is laid out in a cross pattern, lined with trees giving it a garden-like appearance, and dividing the cemetery into four sections. The confederate general Harry T Hays was buried here in 1876 as well as some Civil War vets. There are about 1,100 family tombs and more than 7,000 people buried in Lafayette Cemetery. Several movies have been filmed in the Lafayette Cemetery including Double Jeopardy in 1999 and Dracula 2000 in 2000. Lafayette Cemetery is one of the safest cemeteries in the City. To tour this historic cemetery you would get off the streetcar at St Charles and Washington Ave. Access to Lafayette Cemetery #1 is free and the entrance is directly across the street from the famous Commander’s Palace restaurant. There are not any bathrooms available at the cemetery.
Save Our Cemeteries offers guided tours of Lafayette Cemetery #1.