Images of New Orleans’ Oldest Burial Ground
At the far edge of the French Quarter on Basin Street is the Saint Louis #1 Cemetery, the oldest in the city. Known for its above ground tombs that rest on flood prone ground, the cemetery represents the spectrum of New Orleans society.
Visitors pay tribute to Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen, and to see where Easy Rider experimented with psychedelic filmmaking in the graveyard. They visit to hear ghost stories that give us a glance into the essence of Americana; a romantization of our shared history.
St. Louis #1 has been suffocated with a love compounded by the humidity of New Orleans’ tropical environment. Vandals drunk with alchemical notions have etched rows of Xs into the sides of the graves; liquor, tobacco, and candle wax stain the pathways in tributes to the Occult; and self-appointed “tour guides” mistake pop culture for historical facts in return for generous tips.
Over the years, the sun and rain have wiped clean inscriptions on tombstones and decayed memorials to dust. At St Louis #1, non-profit organizations like Save Our Cemeteries search for funding to protect the hallowed grounds from the elements.
These photos pay tribute to my New Orleans heritage. They are intended to bring awareness to this cemetery, the past, and our mortality.