Friday, March 30, 2012

New Orleans Visit, Part II -- Botanical Gardens and Metairie Cemetery

The one day in New Orleans that we took our car out of the hotel's parking lot, we drove to Metairie Cemetery, which is an interesting combination of old tombs and current burial areas. Some New Orleans cemeteries are even older, but they are crowded with a jumble of mausoleums that serve, unfortunately, as cover for muggers and others. Visitors are advised to go there at the busiest times, perhaps with a guided group. Since our purpose was to visit a "drivable" cemetery and see the above-ground burial which the high water table and frequent heavy soaking of the ground requires in this area, Metairie was just right. New Orleans' largest cemetery, it covers over 65 acres (web sites seem to differ on its exact size), and was established in 1873 on the site of a former racetrack. The grounds are beautifully kept, a peaceful "park" full of birds singing their hearts out. Mausoleums of many leading families, tombs of former governors and mayors, and towering military memorials share the grounds with lavish displays by less upstanding (though certainly no less wealthy) citizens, such as the elaborate tomb of Josie Arlington, once the leading madam of Storyville.
Not far from that cemetery, New Orleans boasts a 1,300 acre city park, which includes the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and many other scenic features and recreation centers. We strolled through the botanical gardens there (a treat for my master gardener husband). One photo from the gardens shows the conservatory (in a style complementing the main Pavilion across the promenade) which houses a tropical rain forest exhibit and "living fossils", plants with a lineage going back to prehistoric times. The other garden photo shows a corner of the Japanese Garden section.
We were very fortunate with our weather while we were in New Orleans (mid-March)--quite warm each day (mid to upper 80s), but not oppressive or excessively humid and beautifully clear, as you can see. I had made plans for activities we could have done if we had heavy rain or too much heat for extended time outside, but will save those for another visit. As I mentioned in the previous post, New Orleans exceeded my expectations as a fascinating destination, with much to see and do for visitors with a variety of interests.
Question of the day: When and where have cemeteries been among the attractions you have visited in your travels?


  1. I've been enjoying some of your latest posts, Mary. So sorry to have been missing in action lately. In answer to your question, I love to visit small cemeteries here and there, wherever we happen to be. Once I went with my husband to a cemetery in Pensacola. He was inspecting a well that they use for irrigation. The manager took us on a tour of the extensive grounds and commented that cemeteries are dying. Really! He said that more people are opting for cremation and ending up in jars on a shelf or in vault compartments rather than six feet under.

  2. Interesting, W2W! I hadn't thought about the trend toward more cremations from this angle. Thanks so much for your visit and comment; I appreciate it whenever you get a chance.