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Cemetery Tourism: Lafayette No. 1 in New Orleans

I had the good fortune to be invited to present a paper at Tulane Law School this week.  I took the St. Charles Streetcar from my hotel in the Central Business District out to Tulane, and since it stops on Washington Street, two blocks from Lafayette No. 1 Cemetery, I obviously had to spend an hour or so there. It was a drizzly, coldish (high 50s) day for New Orleans, so there were few visitors in the cemetery. I've visited Lafayette No. 1 numerous times, but it was particularly affecting to visit it without a horde of tourists.

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Lafayette No. 1 was platted in 1832. It is located in the Garden District, across the street from the famous Commander's Palace restaurant. Unlike the St. Louis cemeteries in and around the French Quarter, Lafayette No. 1 is not a Catholic cemetery. Owned by the city, it is multi-denominational and non-segregated. 7,000 people are buried in the city block which includes 1,100 family tombs and 500 wall vaults lining Washington Avenue. The cemetery includes several large society tombs, including volunteer fireman societies (which are referred to in Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches series of books) and my favorite society tomb—the Society for the Home of Destitute Orphan Boys.

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There is something just so poignantly sad about a child dying, even a century ago, but made even more sad by the fact that the children were orphans and destitute.  Destitute is just such a forlorn word.  Apparently others feel as I do about the tomb, because a large number of trinkets and "decorations" have been left there. Mardi Gras beads (of course), but also toy cars and pennies.

Tanya Marsh

Comments

Streetwear

Nice blog you have posted out there.

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