New Orleans Cemetery Art

All images (c) Lisa Kolarsky 1996

New Orleans cemeteries - Cities of the Dead - are architecturally beautiful above-ground rows of weathered tombs. The custom of above-ground burial vaults in New Orleans owes its origin to the city's Spanish heritage. The story of our cemeteries is an intricate part of the fabric that is New Orleans.

The first formal cemetery in New Orleans, the St. Peter Street Cemetery was located in what is now the French Quarter. According to accounts of the time, all burials were in the ground. Accounts of the time also stated that when graves were dug, they frequently filled up with water, resulting in watery graves.

When the graveyard was close to capacity, city officials established St. Louis Cemetery #1. At the time, Esteban Miro was the governor of New Orleans and his allegiance was to Spain. Therefore, when the St. Louis Cemetery was developed, the wall vault system that was popular in Spain at the time was adopted for those wishing to be buried stylishly above ground.

My pictures are from the St. Roch Cemetery in Faubourg-Marigny.

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Last Update: May 20, 1998