There are dozens of cemeteries in New Orleans. Located in the Garden District, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest city-operated cemetery. It’s a non-segregated cemetery where there are immigrants from 25 countries and natives of 26 states. This cemetery remains in use. The movie Double Jeopardy was filmed here.
I was debating whether to go by ourselves or to book a tour. Reviews generally said it was safe to walk around the cemetery. Yet I also read a couple warnings suggesting tourists go with a tour to avoid getting mugged. It was one thing to be robbed of money, another to lose our phones, wallets and IDs. I did not want to take the risks, so we booked a tour with Save Our Cemeteries, a nonprofit organization that preserves, researches and restores cemeteries in New Orleans. The tour was worth the money and I was happy that the proceeds went to a nonprofit that preserves historical cites.
After we knew the area and toured the cemetery with our guide, we were comfortable enough to walk around by ourselves. It was still a little creepy though. Sunday hours are not written at the gate. The last thing I wanted for this trip was to be locked in a cemetery. Because of the winding layout and all the above-ground tombs, we saw a group of people guided by a woman telling the history of the place, and the next thing we knew they were out of sight and we could not hear a thing.
我們考慮了很久到底要跟團還是自己去，大部分的網誌和評論都說自己去沒問題，但也看到少數幾篇建議大家跟團以免被搶。只有我跟我妹走在一起，如果掉錢事小，被搶手機證件信用卡的話就麻煩了，所以決定還是不要冒險，乖乖跟團。我們訂了Save Our Cemeteries的導覽，這是個非營利組織，專門研究和保存紐奧良的墓園，導覽收的費用會被用來支持這個組織還有維護失修的墓，跟團是個很不錯的選擇，因此聽到很多歷史故事。
This cemetery contains family tombs as well as society tombs, such as the ones for volunteer fire fighters and Home For Destitute Orphan Boys. Many of the orphans here were transported from cities like New York and Boston on orphan trains to New Orleans from the mid-19th century to early 20th century.
Here’s how above-ground tombs work. There are two levels in a vault. A coffin or a casket is placed in the upper level of a vault. Then people seal the vault with bricks. After a body decomposes (traditionally one year and one day), bones and ashes are brushed to the back or placed in the lower level. Then the upper vault is ready for a new body.
When a tomb is not available for a new body, people resort to wall vaults. During the breakout of yellow fever, many families had to rent space in the wall vaults. After a body decomposes, remains would be moved to a family tomb or their final resting place. Wall vaults are located on the Washington Avenue side of the cemetery.
One of the most famous people buried here is Judge John Howard Ferguson in Plessy v. Ferguson case which upholds the doctrine of separate but equal.
整個墓裡面唯一知道的「名人」是普萊西訴弗格森案的法官 John Howard Ferguson，這個案子確立了隔離但平等的原則。1890年代，紐奧良開始立法(Separate Car Act)在大眾交通工具等等場合隔離白人和黑人，為了挑戰這些法律、試圖證明隔離政策違憲，一群人決定要把事情鬧大、把這個法的合憲問題弄到高等法院，只有一部份黑人血統的Creole人Homer Plessy跳上白人限定的公車，Plessy被逮捕，然後按照計畫告路易西安那州政府的隔離法違憲，法官Ferguson判定路易西安那州有權在州界內執行這個白人車黑人車的法律，Plessy告到高等法院，但高等法院維持Ferguson法官的判決，從此確立這個隔離而平等的原則。
Many tombs here were designed by a builder, James Hagan. He was also buried here.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
1400 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
Take St. Charles streetcar to St. Charles and Washington Avenue and walk 2 blocks
Save Our Cemetery