May 26, 2011 by Amy Elliott Bragg
New Orleans: St. Louis Cemetery, No. 1
[All Saints’ Day in New Orleans – Harper’s, 1885. Source.]
It wouldn’t be a vacation without a visit to a historic cemetery — especially in New Orleans, where Gothic romance, crumbly old-world atmosphere, the floral aura of dime-store mystery and secrets half-shadowed by gas lamps are all part of the draw.
We took a tour of St. Louis No. 1, the oldest cemetery in New Orleans, just a block outside the French Quarter. We learned that the distinctive above-ground tombs, which create a crowded little marble and toppled-brick town, have as much to do with cultural traditions of French, Spanish and Caribbean settlers as they do with the swampy flood-prone ground.
We learned that in New Orleans, generations of families share the same tombs; when it’s time to bury someone new, the previous occupant is removed, the coffin disposed of in a respectable manner, and the bones replaced to a pit at the bottom of the vault.
And we met some new friends.
Like Marie Laveau.
Etienne de Bore.
Bernard de Marigny.
And we took a lot of pictures. Here are a few good ones, on some fancy new photo gallery plug-in I’m taking for a spin today.