Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 1.40.07 PMSt. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest and most famous. It was opened in 1789, replacing the city’s older St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existence) as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after a fire in 1788.
It is 8 blocks from the Mississippi River, on the north side of Basin Street, one block beyond the inland border of the French Quarter. It borders the Iberville housing project. It has been in continuous use since its foundation. The nonprofit group Save Our Cemeteries and commercial businesses offer tours for a fee.
Famous New Orleanians buried in St. Louis No. 1 include Etienne de Boré, wealthy pioneer of the sugar industry and the first mayor of New Orleans; Homer Plessy, the plaintiff from the landmark 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights; and Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial, the first African-American mayor of New Orleans.
The renowned Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is believed to be interred in the Glapion family crypt. Other notable New Orleanians here include Bernard de Marigny, the French-Creole playboy who brought the game of craps to the United States;Barthelemy Lafon, the architect and surveyor who allegedly became one of Jean Lafitte’s pirates; and Paul Morphy, one of the earliest world champions of chess. Delphine LaLaurie is also believed to lay in rest here. Architect and engineer Benjamin Latrobe was buried there after dying from yellow fever in 1820 while doing engineering for the New Orleans water works. In 2010, actor Nicolas Cage purchased a pyramid shaped tomb to be his future final resting place.
The cemetery spans just one square block but is the resting place of many thousands. A Protestant section (generally not vaulted) lies in the north-west section.