The Savvy Native is excited to announce a new tour – Let The Dead Speak! A Tour of St. Louis Cemetery #2. We’re adding it to our line-up beginning in July. Along its aisles there are pirates, dualists, nuns, war heroes and entrepreneurs all resting together.
St. Louis Cemetery #2, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 1823 and was originally planned to replace St. Louis #1, though #1 was never closed. St. Louis #2 was the first cemetery in the city known to have specific areas designated exclusively for African Americans. It is a much larger cemetery than #1 covering 3 Squares or city blocks. Square #3 contains the largest number of monuments in one place noting the achievements and struggles of Black Americans in the 19th century.
Meet Me In St Louis #2
In 1817 the population of New Orleans reached about 33,000. This was a significant increase from a mere 6,000 in 1803. The growth was mainly due to an influx of free blacks and French colonial whites fleeing the slave insurrection in Saint Domingue. Also more Americans came to the city after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. The city’s population reached 41,000 in 1820. Then the city’s only cemetery, St. Louis #1, was so overcrowded and unsanitary that the mayor forbade burials there in the summer months. The New Orleans City Council held the belief that harmful “miasmas” and “effluvia” (poisonous vapors) emanating from the cemetery spread Yellow Fever, Cholera and other harmful diseases. The Council voted to establish a new cemetery farther from the city.
Lots of Things to See and Do in St. Louis #2
In the early to mid 19th century the belief was that these vapors rose up from the cemeteries. The city, not wanting to take any chances, decided to build a new cemetery farther away from the population than St. Louis #1. The council insisted on having the cemetery located at least 2,400 feet away from the city limits. However, they settled on the most practical site 1,800 feet away from Rampart Street in a “back of town” area that at the time ran between Canal and St. Louis Streets.
Proposed in 1819, built on land purchased in 1821 and opened in 1823. Covering more territory, the new cemetery would be the site of many more tombs than St. Louis #1. The cemetery was laid out in a more formal, classically inspired manner, echoing the design of Havana’s Espada Cemetery, with a wide straight avenue down the center that runs the entire length of the cemetery.
We are returning to the streets soon and can’t wait to get back to doing what we love!
The Savvy Native is a group of experienced local tour guides who were either born in New Orleans or wish they had been.
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