Enter the former Metairie Race Course, an earthly venue for the “quick,” now elegantly transformed into a glorious “City of the Dead” - where no one is in a hurry. Architecture and archeology seem to converge in this hallowed landscape of imposing society tombs and soaring mausolea. Experience an angelic locale filled with obelisks and pyramids, heroes and rogues, symbols and secrets. You will walk past the final resting places of over 50 kings and queens … of Carnival, that is.
New Orleans cemeteries are outdoor museums where memorial art is celebrated with as much passion as it is neglected. “Perpetual Care” assures that most family tombs are restored and renewed with regularity. Others face abandonment and neglect, lingering in the irony of their own death throes.
But, have no fear. Soldiers and saints will escort us, revealing the rich military history and religious culture of New Orleans. We will explore the fascinating and unique memorials honoring many who struggled in the face of earthly battles as well as those who achieved spiritual victories, arousing the “better angels of our nature.” Join New Orleans writer and photographer Kevin J. Bozant on this hauntingly beautiful journey. He knows where the bodies are buried.
If you plan to take the Canal Street streetcar, make sure you take the car with ‘Cemeteries’ as the destination panel, NOT ‘City Park’ Upon your arrival at the Cemeteries Streetcar Terminus next to Greenwood Cemetery, you will exit there. You will find yourself in the presence of at least eight historic cemeteries. Once on foot, you will turn right on City Park Avenue, walk past Greenwood Cemetery, (you can’t miss the large Elk sculpture on the Hill) and head toward and under the elevated Pontchartrain Expressway. As you emerge on the other side you will see the steps that will take you up to the pedestrian entrance to Metairie Cemetery. You are looking for what locals call the horse on the hill. The current pedestrian entrance was originally the main entrance to Metairie Cemetery. The first tomb you will encounter is the tomb of Tom Benson. As you walk past the Benson tomb you will see the horse on the hill on your right.
Places to stop along the way:
Tumulus of the Louisiana Division of the Army of Tennessee, the grave of General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, the Equestrian Statue of General Albert Sidney Johnston, the Italian Society Tomb of Madonna of Mount Triona, the Pillars of Jaquin and Boaz, the Battalion Washington Artillery Cenotaph, the Louisiana Division of the Army of Northern Virginia Mausoleum, the statue of General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, former resting place of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis, the tomb of Louis Prima, the avenue of Italian Benevolent Society Mausolea, The secret of Howard’s Tomb, the Virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity … and Mrs. Moriarty.
Best time of day:
Morning is best. Be sure to have comfortable walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water. There are abundant trees in the cemetery; however there are also long stretches in full sun. Cemetery hours are 8am to 5pm.
Using your phone as a camera will be awkward as you will be listening to my commentary. Take a good camera with a telephoto lens, a large SD card and extra batteries along with you on this walk. You will be taking more photographs than you ever thought possible.
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