Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 | New Orleans

24 June 2015

The American cemetery is always an interesting place to visit. Each cemetery provides a unique and fascinating tale of the city it serves as well as the hardships the people of that city have gone through. From family plots to epidemics overflowing the cemetery itself, each American cemetery can paint a picture of life and death.

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 was an unexpected find. Amongst the beautiful Victorian mansions in New Orleans' Garden District, the cemetery itself seems to appear out of nowhere. Founded in 1833 in the city of Lafayette (the boundaries of New Orleans did not reach Lafayette until 1852), Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 was built during a a mass migration of Europeans to the American south. Germans, Italians, and Scandinavians alike can be found buried in this overgrown and crowded cemetery.

Looking at the dates, my college roommate and I discovered two sad trends while visiting the cemetery. The first was the obvious trend in deaths during the yellow fever epidemic that took place in New Orleans during the 19th century. The second trend was the horrific amount of children buried there. The two were haunting reminders of the hardships people on the Gulf faced.

Visiting a cemetery can produce different reactions for different people. For me, death and horror are things that are inescapable as a historian. I find cemeteries fascinating and beautiful, an opinion that might not be shared by others. However, any trip to New Orleans feels so much more complete after visiting one of the many cemeteries that scatters the city. 

Interested in cemeteries around the world? Check out my post on one of England's most fascinating cemeteries, Arnos Vale.

Happy Wednesday!

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