New Orleans: America’s Spookiest City

by Benjamin Lewis

In a recent and highly publicized poll of 0 to 1 American bloggers, 100% of the participants selected New Orleans as the spookiest city in the United States.  Precipitated by generations of mysterious Voodoo practices, unusual burial rituals, and heinous historical atrocities, the somewhat predictable result shocked no one.  Surely, the spookiness of Spanish moss played a major role in such a lopsided outcome.  Regardless, this now famously influential poll comes on the heels of surprising growth in the availability of haunted or otherwise macabre tours of New Orleans.  But, does New Orleans really deserve the title of America’s Spookiest City?  Let’s read on and find out, shall we?


Sitting Up With The Dead



Although “sitting up with the dead” sounds far spookier than a “viewing”, they both express the same funeral rite.  The difference lies in the fact that some New Orleanians sit up with the dead to prevent any zombie-like or otherwise undead activity.  But, even more disturbing than the prospect of a loved one’s reanimated corpse is the hottest new trend in funeral services, which takes “sitting up with the dead” a little too literally.  It all started in 2012 when Lionel Batiste, a New Orleans music legend, actually stood at his own “wake”.  Carefully propped up against a street sign, Mr. Batiste basically acted as master of ceremonies for his own funeral.  And, since then, there have been several “wakes” in New Orleans where the dearly departed, carefully positioned at a table, partied one last time with friends and family.  It doesn’t get much spookier than that.


Bigger Than Elvis



New Orleans and Voodoo are forever entwined within the collective American psyche.  Yet, most people don’t know much about the syncretic folk religion.  But, every New Orleanian knows the story of Marie Laveau.  Madame Laveau rose to the rank of Voodoo Queen of New Orleans well over a century ago.  And, her legacy includes a major contemporary following.  It’s said that if you draw an “X” on her tomb, turn around thrice, knock on her vault, and yell out a wish, she just might grant it.  If she does indeed grant your wish, then you better come back to the tomb, circle the “X” you made, and leave Madame Leveau an offering.  Marie Leveau’s tomb enjoys immense popularity, drawing more visitors each year than Elvis Presley’s!  This begs the question:  What is wrong with you people?


The Dead Among Us…



Nearly every time New Orleans anticipates a slight drizzle, the talking heads remind us that half of the city lies below sea-level.  And, you might wonder:  What’s so creepy about that?  Well, nothing, until it’s time to dig a hole for your eccentric and recently departed uncle, Jean Pierre.  Early on, New Orleanians figured out that an underground burial might lead to a most unwelcome family reunion during the next wet season.  As a result, most people now purchase slabs at their friendly, local mausoleum in anticipation of their inevitable demises.  Thus, in New Orleans, the living and the dead exist on the same plane, quite literally.


New Orleans Exposed!



A city full of mausoleums comes with a unique set of drawbacks.  For one, the easy access to both loot and corpses has turned New Orleans into something of a grave robbing Mecca.  You’re nobody in the global grave robbing community until you’ve plundered at least one vault in New Orleans; or, so I hear.  Anyway, when you’re slipping poor Grandma’s wedding ring off her bony little finger, you don’t exactly stop to make sure you’ve put everything back in order before saying a final prayer and sealing her up, again.  So don’t act surprised if you spot an open chamber containing some exposed remains.  These things happen, you know?


The LaLaurie Story



Perhaps the most creepy, disgusting, and downright despicable New Orleans story involves a lady by the name of Marie Delphine LaLaurie.  Responding to a fire at LaLaurie’s mansion, police and firemen discovered a true house of horrors.  On the top floor of the house, authorities found at least 7 tortured and mutilated slaves hanging precariously by their necks, alive!  Some of the abused slaves lacked the strength to walk.  Others wore spiked iron collars and bore fresh wounds from having been flayed.  Somehow, Madame LaLaurie escaped the angry mob and fled to France after her deplorable deeds came to light.  And, only later did authorities find the bodies buried in the yard and even more corpses sealed in the mansion’s defunct well.  Understandably, the LaLaurie Mansion now enjoys significant infamy as a paranormal hotspot, given the atrocities that occurred there.


Hey you!  Got a creepy story about New Orleans?  Retell it in the comments below and we might add it to our post!

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