St. Louis Cemetery Number One is a popular New Orleans burial ground located right outside the boundaries of the French Quarter. It is considered as one of the most beguiling destinations in New Orleans featuring numerous statues and dated family crypts. St. Louis Cemetery Number One is just one of the many highly regarded cemeteries found in the city, all of which are teeming with sculptures and tombs.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 debuted in 1789 and is the most antiquated burial ground in New Orleans. Initially, the cemetery was considered to fall outside of the city boundaries because of the previous belief that illnesses would spread if there are dead bodies in the city. The yellow fever epidemic which broke out in the city caused the cemetery to be filled to maximum capacity in 1829. Currently, only 50% of the original cemetery survives and the burial ground has obviously been worn down over time. Nonetheless, the cemetery retains its allure thanks to the several fascinating tales behind the graves found here.
It was the French immigrants who began using the land as a burial ground for their loved ones and they buried the bodies underground. However, every time New Orleans is flooded, bodies and caskets would float. Because of this, the French opted to adapt a popular European entombment practice by using crypts found on the surface. This interment revision did not only prevent the coffins being drifted away by flood waters but also enabled them to recycle the crypts. Huge family tombs can hold several caskets put on top of one another. When there?s no more room, the remains in the most dated coffin would be transferred to the bottom in order to create additional space.
A few of the most renowned New Orleans residents were put to rest here. Arguably the most popular person entombed here is Marie Laveau who is considered a Voodoo queen. Laveau?s remains are housed in a tomb encrypted with the names Laveau, Glapion and Paris and draws in several visitors. This tomb is frequently vandalized by visitors who write a cross on her crypt, believing that her ghost will fulfill their wishes. Even if there?s a marker which indicates Laveau?s tomb, there is no guarantee that the so-called Voodoo queen lies here.
The other popular individuals buried at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 include architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The migrant architect moved to New Orleans to construct a waterworks but he passed away due to yellow fever. New Orleans first mayor who served after the colonization of the city Jean Etienne Bore is also entombed here. New Orleans? first black leader Ernest Dutch Morial is also resting in this burial ground.
Another famous political figure buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is Homer Plessy who disputed segregation laws. A big bronze marker can be found on Plessy?s tomb in remembrance of what is known as the Plessy vs. Ferguson which actually prompted the US Supreme Court in 1896 to uphold segregation.
Other names which put color in the city?s history are also buried here including Paul Morphy, a chess genius who became an unrecorded global champion at 21 years old. Fifteen-year old inheritor Bernard de Marigny who brought in a dice game to the city and also established the Marigny neighborhood is also buried here.
As for the statuaries, the highest monument found in the burial ground is The Italian Mutual Benevolent Society grave. It was a usual practice for New Orleans foreign settlers to amass money to bring down the interment expenses for the members of their community. The tall Italian tomb can accommodate over one thousand bodies.
A self-guided tour may be taken by visitors of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 but it is recommended to join the group tours which take place regularly. This will help visitors appreciate the most famous tombs and know the history behind these graves. Aside from being a potentially more fruitful experience, it also ensures the safety of visitors as old cemeteries are infamous for being unsafe.