Wednesday 2 January 2019

New Orleans: Garden District and Cemeteries

(Royalty free photo from the net.)

I hope you started 2019 in a great way! Happy New Year!

Driving in New Orleans was a bit hectic, traffic was crowded and roads went left and right, up and down all over the place. Not to mention that a lot of roads were horribly paved and hadn't been fixed in years so if you were not careful you can leave part of your car somewhere along the way.

Under some of those high roads was a different city, a city of tents. Clearly good protection for the homeless, there were also volunteers giving warm food. There were lots of beggars, especially by traffic lights.

We also saw a woman giving a homeless guy a haircut. I have seen people doing that in video's on facebook but it was nicer to see that there are good people, without someone making a video out of it.

With a bit of rain, the roads got really tricky to drive and walk!

The total opposite of the tent city was the Garden District.

Huge mansions, with beautifully kept gardens. This one above was used for the filming of The curious case of Benjamin Button, you can see it in various scenes.

This whole area was once a number of plantations. It was sold off in parcels to mainly wealthy Americans who did not want to live in the French Quarter with the Creoles. It became a part of the city of Lafayette in 1833, and was annexed by New Orleans in 1852. The district was laid out by New Orleans architect, planner, and surveyor Barthelemy Lafon.

Originally the area was developed with only a couple of houses per block, each surrounded by a large garden, giving the district its name. In the late 19th century, some of these large lots were subdivided, as Uptown New Orleans became more urban. This has produced a pattern for much of the neighborhood: of any given block having a couple of early 19th-century mansions surrounded by "gingerbread"-decorated late Victorian period houses. Thus, the "Garden District" is now known for its architecture more than for its gardens per se.

The number of squirrels was amazing, and they are so fast!

This huge and beautiful house had something funny going on. All around its garden gate it had all kind funny dog related signs like 'If my dog makes you uncomfortable, I'd be happy to lock you up in the other room.' or 'DANGER Death from the ankles down.' and 'Crazy dogs live here, do not knock! They will bark and I will yell, shit will get real!' and one of my favorites: 'It's the dog's house, we just pay the Mortgage'.

Mum daydreaming of having such a house... :)

As mentioned above the Garden District used to be part of the city of Lafayette and only later became part of New Orleans. The Cemetery in the same district still is called the Lafayette cemetery.

The planning of this cemetery began in 1832 in preparation for the creation of Lafayette City. It was laid out in a very formal manner with four quadrants.

There are Magnolia trees for shade and an area for funeral processions in a cross shape, and there were originally very fragrant flowers.

The cemetery has been active since 1833 and still has burials occurring. There are about 1,000 tombs and an estimated 7,000 people buried in Lafayette #1. It is a city block in size. The cemetery is also not racially or religiously segregated and contains over 26 nationalities.

Notable tombs include the Jefferson Fire Co. #22’s society tomb with an ornate fire pump adhered, an Odd Fellows tomb, and the metal tomb that inspired the author Anne Rice when writing the novel Interview with a Vampire.

The roots of the trees gave the cemetery's floor a dramatic effect.

I love how nature is slowly taking over the cemetery despite the number of people visiting it.

Lafayette #1 is also the most filmed cemetery in New Orleans. Most recently scenes from The Originals on the CW Network, and NCIS: New Orleans have been filmed inside.

There are 45 cemeteries in New Orleans, we visited 4 and this one was my favorite of the ones we saw.

This one was the Holt Cemetery. Incomplete disarray, extremely badly kept, clearly, graves of people from poor families, which was sad as the graves were in very bad shape but not the nature-took-over kind. Broken headstones, some were just handwritten wooden pieces, some piles of dirt not clear if it was a fresh grave, the only nice thing was the huge tree right in the middle of it all.

We also went to the St. Louise Cemetery #3 (#1 is the famous one which we did not go to, one can only handle so many graveyards during one vacation). This one was very posh, you could just ride with your car in it as it just literally had paved roads. All huge marble mausoleums, economic class is even clear in death :(.

Still tons of photos of this city but I won't bore you anymore so the next post will be Floriday at the other coast :)

Estella writes most of this blog nowadays, but I want to tell you also something.

New Orleans was an intense experience.
Architecturally, it is maybe the most beautiful city ever. Even in the poorest neighborhoods, every little house is as pretty as a cupcake. People take care and pride in their houses, even if the city hall leaves most streets in disrepair.

And then you go to the posh quarters, like the Esplanade and the Garden District, and you know that every house there and every fortune you see was built on slave labor.

And the people of New Orleans: they are the most friendly in the world, everybody greets you in the street, what I find a most civilized thing to do.

Every neighborhood is well contained in a few blocks, and different from each other. To go from the one to the other you have to take continually those overpasses, they resembled roots of a poisonous tree, totally incongruous, often three or more layers high. And under those bridges, the dispossessed and the hopeless lay.

Despite its beauty, the whole city exudes sadness and despair. The hurricanes are a menace for life and good every year, drugs and alcohol are rampant problems and the government doesn't seem to care, only private initiative seems to reach a hand. Don't be fooled by the gayness of jazz and Mardi Grass, this is a very sad, very beautiful city.


  1. Beautiful photos. And indeed, the state of the city is very sad...but it's true of so many places in the US these days.

  2. thank you so much for sharing these!
    The houses look gorgeous!
    It's sad to read about the poverty. Extremes are truly cohabiting there.

  3. What a interesting story, these photos are beautiful.