New Orleans: Reflections on the Crescent City

Abby Prior
2 min readJun 28, 2021

My introduction to New Orleans was its dead. My mom and I had found an independent walking tour of the city’s Garden District online, which began with the cemetery, since, I suppose, it is important, and at the end it would have been disheartening and in the middle out of place. Since New Orleans rests 6.5–20 feet below sea level, small mausoleums of the South stood above ground. Near the graves of strangers, we are sometimes a bit uneasy, as if the numinous in us draws back at separation from the body. This is true even if we do not believe in ghosts. But when the dead are surrounded by sunlight and full trees and bright houses, it is more unsettling, as if they are intruders on the happy mood, on all the colors which almost convince us we are immortal already, without tasting death. New Orleans has a hauntedness about it.

In the Garden District there is a plentiful wrought iron and porches and balconies and a historical house or two every block. It was warm, even with copious amounts of shade. We had jaunted from spring to summer. The spirit of New Orleans is really many spirits of different localities mingling together, and this expressed itself in the district’s mixed architectural styles. The city was originally inhabited by French, Spanish, Africans, and Creoles, each bringing their own color until the city became flamboyant with its many hues.

Everything about New Orleans is decadent, its buildings with bold colors and small intricate details, its food drowned in butter, and its people who make up its fanatical night life. A spirit of simplicity is not haunting; only one of excess, for only excess leaves emptiness in its wake. Thus the hauntedness of New Orleans and its decadence go hand in hand.