Recently Nicki and I got married and went on our honeymoon in New Orleans. It was kind of a three celebrations in one trip- our honeymoon, Halloween, and my 45th birthday.

I’ll be posting about a lot of our trip in N’awlins over the next couple weeks, but first up is the cemetery tour we took on my birthday (also Day of the Dead). We were going to take the tour a day earlier (All Saint’s Day– and my mother’s birthday) but after a long trolley ride/tour on the St. Charles Line (the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world) we were going to be cutting it close and would have to rush to get down to the French Quarter. Instead we decided to hit the aquarium that day and do the cemetery tour the next (All Soul’s Day) , which worked out much better time wise for us.

We reserved our tour passes when we bought our aquarium tickets- lots of tourist info booths and offices around town. The next morning (my birthday!) we got up early, did breakfast in the hotel (waffles!), stopped by the Walgreens on Canal Street to pick up some fresh batteries and a new memory card for my camera, and headed down Bourbon Street. By this time I had finally learned my way around town, and of course it was our last day there.

We were running a few minutes early so we did a quick walk through Jackson Square and took a few pics. I could have spent a whole day at each part of New Orleans we visited- but really loved the French Quarter. The architecture, art, people, and shops all were fun to see and experience.

We went back to Rev. Zombie’s Voodoo Shop and waited for our guide and the rest of the tour group to arrive. While we waited Nicki and I took some photos of the area and watched people going to work, make deliveries, power-wash the streets and sidewalks, or tour the city on foot or carriage. I think I enjoyed taking shots of the side streets even more than Bourbon Street. Not as much traffic and some really unique buildings.

Rev. Zombie’s Voodo Shop is just off Jackson Square located behind St. Louis Cathedral, and across the street from Pat O’Brien’s– where I discovered the power of a Hurricane on Halloween, but that’s another story! 6 other tourists and our Haunted History tour guide “Ernie” arrived shortly after we got there. After receiving our Haunted History sticker passes we headed down St. Peter Street towards St. Louis Cemetery #1 with Ernie in the lead.

As we walked Ernie encouraged us to ask questions and reminded us that this area isn’t just a touristy location, but a neighborhood as well. We passed a few of the home owners along the way and Ernie seemed to know them all and was happy to greet each one with a smile along the way.

One of our first stops was Louis Armstrong Park and Congo Square on N. Rampart Street located in the Tremé neighborhood. This is where we get our first introduction to Marie Laveauthe Voodoo Queen of New Orleans! We learned a lot about her and the folks that gathered here back when slavery was legal. I won’t go into all of it (Ernie tells it better), but I did learn she had a daughter named “Marie”, was a free woman of color, Catholic and a hairdresser! (Wait a minute…Gail Simone was a hairdresser, too..!)

After we left the park we walked up N. Rampart Street past the police station and around the corner to the Basin Street Station Tourist Info Center. It was formerly the Southern Railway Freight Office Building and has a lot of great railroad memorabilia and some cool models.

Some of the coolest items there were a set of railroad lanterns, which reminded me of Martin Nodell and the origin of the original golden age Alan Scott/Green Lantern. He got the idea for the character while on a Manhattan subway and noticed the train man on the tracks waving a lantern, going from red to green- with green meaning “go”.

The info center also has a huge map of New Orleans which Ernie used to show us the layout of the city, where it gets its nicknames of “The Crescent City” and “The Big Easy“, and told us more about it’s people including more about Marie Laveau and Bernard de Marigny. He brought the game of craps (or crapaud – a French word meaning “toad”) to the US even thought apparently he wasn’t that good at it! After Ernie’s history lesson we then got a chance to check out the info center’s displays, gift shop, and its restrooms!

After the pit stop we headed across the street to the St. Louis Cemetery #1. It is the oldest and most famous of about 15 above-ground cemeteries in and around New Orleans (there is also a St. Louis Cemetery #2 and #3). I designed monuments and tombstones “for a living” for 5 years and I’ve always loved exploring old cemeteries– in the daytime! Luckily for me this tour got started at 10am.

Once inside the cemetery Ernie showed us some of the wall vault tombs and also explained “shake and bake” to us. If you’ve been to New Orleans in the summer and/or had Shake ‘n Bake Chicken you can probably figure that one out for yourself. If you haven’t, let’s just say it gets real hot there and even hotter in the tombs which become brick ovens in the New Orleans heat.

The tombs in New Orleans cemeteries are used again and again, and it is a common practice to bury all the members of a family—or multiple families—in the same tomb. You can also rent tombs! Ernie told us New Orleans was green before green and explained their usage of vaults, crypts, and mausoleums– or “apartments”, “condos”, and “houses” as he also called them. A very efficient use of real estate and recycling for sure, and they do call the cemeteriesCities of the Dead“!

We followed Ernie further into the cemetery to the most famous tomb there- and one of the most visited graves in the world– voodoo priestess Marie Laveau!

There is much debate as to whether or not the Glapion family crypt is THE Marie Laveau’s final resting place, there’s another there (above pic), and other possible locations, but seeing the markings of three X’s on the tomb (an “X” represents crossing over) and money left behind there many believe it is her’s and hope that Laveau’s spirit will grant them a wish.

Paying respects” or “desecration“…? Well, Ernie and I will let you decide when you visit.

Next to her tomb is Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial, the first African-American mayor of New Orleans. The convention center is named after him.

Apparently this one is the future home of actor Nic Cage.

Next was the largest tomb/mausoleum in the cemetery. This one was featured in the movie “Easy Rider“. Ernie’s got some good stories about that movie being filmed at St. Louis Cemetery #1, his beverage choices for viewing that movie, and a possible explanation of what happened to the statue’s missing heads!

We found out not all graves in New Orleans are above ground like I had been told. There is a Protestant section located in the back of the cemetery that has below ground graves. The rear of the cemetery is near the Iberville Projects, an area that was known as “Storyville“- a red light district named after city alderman Sidney Story. We heard a good “story” about that, too!

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:27

Not all the tombs in the cemetery were white-washed. A few tombs around the cemetery are painted, yellow, blue, and other colors.

We saw several crypts with wrought iron gates, including this one with Masonic markings on it. Nicki later had to explain why a Freemason entombed in a Catholic cemetery was a big deal. Apparently that’s unusual…but Ernie had a good explanation for it, and I’ll let him tell you! 😉

There were many of the tombs that had seen better days, and in need of some repairs. There were also some newer looking ones as well. We learned that once a name plate was full and room for additional names were needed a new stone replaced the old, and the old one was placed next to the tomb.

It was only a two hour tour and we saw a lot, but I could spend a whole day exploring this cemetery. I plan to on my next trip to New Orleans– along with #2 and #3! Yep, Nicki and I had so much fun on our NOLA trip we were making plans to come back before we left “The Big Easy“!

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Basin at St. Louis St.
New Orleans, LA 70112 [Map It]
(504) 482-5065

Neighborhood: Treme
Hours: M-Sat. 9-3; Sun. 9-12
Free Parking: No
Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Attraction Type/s:  Cemetery
Admission Cost: Free

New Orleans

Haunted History Tours
97 Fontainebleau Dr. New Orleans -70125
Phone: 504-861-2727
FAX 504-861-1444
Guides are fully licensed by the City of New Orleans – Recommended by the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED (Please arrive 30 minutes prior to departure time)

When: 10 AM & 1:15 PM. No afternoon tour on Sundays!
Where: Rev. Zombie’s Voodoo Shop, 723 St. Peter St. (between Royal Street & Bourbon St.)
How Long: 2 hours
How Much: $20.00 per person. $17.00 Students/Seniors

For tour reservations call: 504-861-2727

Reserve Online-

Ask for Ernie– he’ll be glad you did!