Americas Scariest Towns: Spotlight on New Orleans


When it comes to American cities that are notorious for being haunted, there are a number of options that tend to make the cut pretty consistently. However, New Orleans is widely considered to be the most haunted of them all and is often the first place people think of when looking to visit a place in search of ghosts, the supernatural, or the paranormal.

But why is New Orleans so haunted? Are there actual reasons or is it just that people so badly want to have an experience there that they psych themselves into doing so? Which of the many sites in New Orleans is the best place to go for a potential spectral experience, and what are the best ways to experience the city at its historic best? Here we’ll take a closer look at the answers to all of these questions and more.


Why Is New Orleans So Heavily Haunted?

It’s common knowledge that New Orleans has strong ties to ghosts, occult practices like voodoo, and so forth. It’s also commonly accepted by the spiritually open-minded that New Orleans is potentially home to literally thousands of restless spirits, ghosts, and other entities. Less well understood are the possible reasons for the hauntings. The following are some of the likeliest possibilities.
Massive Catastrophe
image5-(1).pngAsk anyone what immediately comes to mind when they think of the history of New Orleans, and they’re likely to mention some of the disasters the Big Easy has seen a la Hurricane Katrina. This is because New Orleans typically sees a catastrophic event of one kind or another every 50 years or so.

We’re not just talking natural disasters like hurricanes, either. New Orleans has also seen its share of fires, wars, epidemics, and other major mishaps – not the most peaceful way to lose one’s life, for sure.

For instance, in 1853, a massive number of New Orleans residents lost their lives to yellow fever. Entire families passed away, and the entire city was filled to bursting with dead bodies that piled up over time. It’s uncertain as to where all the victims’ bodies went, and most didn’t have a chance to obtain any sort of closure regarding their affairs before they passed. If any circumstances would result in ghosts and hauntings, it would those.
City Age and Size
image6-(1).pngThe world is filled with very old cities that come attached to a long history and a lengthy list of rich traditions. New Orleans is definitely one of the older cities in the United States, and the older a location happens to be, the more people that will have died within its city limits over the years. More deaths mean more chances for hauntings to be the likely result.

Plus, New Orleans was a relatively small city up until the 1800s, or so – maybe 80 square blocks of space. When you take into account the disasters, drama, and history that New Orleans has seen since it first came to be, you’re looking at a relatively small area to have seen such occurrences. This will also raise the likelihood and number of hauntings.
Give and Take
image7-(1).pngThe culture attached to some cities dictates a lot about how citizens treat their dead, and New Orleans residents pay more attention to theirs than most. Visit the city yourself and ask a native if they believe in ghosts. Most people will tell you “yes” and can treat you to a retelling of a specific paranormal experience they have had.

Many people in New Orleans also continue to treat the dead like important parts of their lives. Some families visit cemeteries on All Saints Day and have picnics with their dearly departed. Many a television show and book center on famous local ghosts and their legends, as well.

Some say that the high number of hauntings and paranormal phenomena associated with the city are simply the dead returning people’s interest in them. After all, it’s only polite, and New Orleans is nothing if not steeped in Southern hospitality.
Many New Orleans residents also feel that the lifestyle there grants them the opportunity to notice and commune with any spirits that might be around. Life proceeds at a leisurely, comfortable pace. People are laid back and open to different possibilities. No one’s in a hurry, and everyone takes the time to stop, watch, and listen.

It’s said that this gives the dead a chance to get people’s attention and interact with them when they’re moved to. It’s not hard to see why people come from miles around in the hopes of experiencing everything that comes with the spirit of New Orleans, even if just for a little while.


Which New Orleans Locations Are Considered the Most Haunted?

Although any corner of New Orleans could wind up playing host to a ghost sighting or an otherwise unearthly encounter, there are definitely some places that are considered more haunted than others. The following are some excellent examples to consider if you’re planning a ghost-hunting trip to the Crescent City anytime soon.
St. Louis Cemetery #1
image9-(1).pngIt may seem like a no brainer to visit a cemetery if you’re looking to have an encounter with the dead, but St. Louis Cemetery #1 is so much more than just a cemetery. Opened in 1789 as a replacement for the St. Peter Cemetery destroyed in a 1788 fire, St. Louis #1 is the oldest cemetery in the city. It’s also the most famous.

It houses its share of famous historic residents, many of which are said to still haunt the grounds, wander among the graves, and even interact directly with mourners and other visitors. They include the renowned voodoo queen Marie Laveau, wealthy pioneer Etienne de Bore, world chess champion Paul Morphy, and notorious slave owner Delphine LaLaurie.

Because of its age and lengthy dramatic history, St. Louis Cemetery #1 is considered to be haunted by literally hundreds of different ghosts. Some visitors have reported running into Civil War heroes, mysterious orphans, and many more curious characters.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
image10-(1).pngIf you ever find yourself walking New Orleans’s famed Bourbon Street and are in the mood for a possible paranormal experience, consider paying Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop a visit. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the entire French Quarter. It’s also long been suspected that one of the spirits in residence is the famous pirate and privateer, Mr. Jean Lafitte himself.

Much like the fictional Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean, Lafitte was a smooth personality who was adored by women. As far as how men felt about him, it depended on whom you asked. Some loved him, but others despised him. It’s thought that this shop was used in Lafitte’s notorious underground smuggling operations back in the day.

Those who claim to have seen Lafitte say they’ve seen him hanging out in the bar area, often near the fireplace. However, he isn’t one of the many ghosts who plays pranks or goes out of his way to interact with people. Normally he simply disappears once seen. There is also rumored to be a mysterious female ghost of unknown origin who haunts the upstairs area.
The LaLaurie Mansion
Those unfamiliar with the history of the LaLaurie family may be familiar with Kathy Bates’s stellar portrayal of a fictionalized Delphine LaLaurie in American Horror Story: Coven. The LaLaurie Mansion itself was built in 1832 by the real life Delphine and her husband Dr. Leonard Louis LaLaurie. 
Like many people in those days, the LaLauries were slave owners that tasked their servants with common household duties like cooking, cleaning, and so forth. However, unlike many slave owners, the LaLauries were unusually and disgustingly cruel to some of theirs. That cruelty would be discovered after a fire that was started by one of those slaves.

During the process of putting the fire out, a room would be discovered that contained several of those slaves. They were severely malnourished and clearly had been mistreated on a long-term basis, but were alive. After bringing them to a local government house, authorities asked them to reveal the conditions under which they were being forced to live.

Not surprisingly, quite a few slaves were said to have lost their lives while under the ownership of the LaLauries. Many people believe this accounts for some of the unsettling ambience and accounts of hauntings that surround the LaLaurie Mansion to this day. Some have even reported seeing the specters of some of those slaves, still imprisoned and tormented with the walls of the house.
The Hotel Villa Convento
image12-(1).pngNaturally New Orleans comes alongside its share of haunted hotels, and the Hotel Villa Convento may be one of the more personal of those. It’s most certainly associated with reported hauntings, both before and after the building became a lodging place. The building itself was built in the early 19th century and has been many things, including but not limited to a brothel, a personal residence, and an apartment building. Some even feel it’s the building famously sung about in the song “House of the Rising Sun.”

Perhaps the most famous ghost said to haunt this building is the assumed madam of the brothel the hotel used to be. She is said to enter some of the rooms to check on the recipients. There are a few other ghosts said to be in residence as well. Book a stay yourself if you’re so inclined to meet them! You just might go home with a ghost story of your own to tell your friends.
The Hotel Monteleone
image13-(1).pngIf you’re looking for a place to stay that’s well known for being very haunted, then look no further than the French Quarter’s Hotel Monteleone. As an establishment, the hotel first came to be in 1886 when a Sicilian immigrant by the name of Antonio Monteleone decided to set up shop on Royal Street. Since then, the hotel has grown into one of the biggest, most frequented hotels in the entire city.

Naturally, such a famous hotel has seen a lot of residents, guests, and staff members come and go over the years. For instance, its Carousel Bar was once a go-to hangout spot for expatriates and political refugees. Some say it still is, with the dead coming back to drink, talk, and socialize there to this day.

Visitors have claimed many different types of ghost sightings and paranormal experiences over the years, though. These include but are not limited to mysterious cold spots, full-body and partial apparitions, ghostly children playing in the halls, and more.
The Gardette LaPrete House
image14-(1).pngThis Dauphine Street location is famous for being one of New Orleans’s most famous haunted houses. Start reading much about haunted New Orleans, and you’ll definitely hear the name pop up more than a few times, for sure!

Alternatively, you may see it mentioned as Sultan’s Palace. The house acquired that name thanks to a local legend about a mysterious 19thcentury man who showed up there with multiple servants and women in tow. He was rumored to be the brother of the Sultan of Turkey, in town in search of a new life after unwisely betraying his brother.

One night, a severe thunderstorm blew into town, during which multiple occupants of the Gardette LaPrete House were murdered brutally. The sultan’s brother was buried alive in the courtyard. Some naturally feel the building’s haunted history stems from this incident, and reasonably so. However, other visitors have reported meeting deceased Civil War soldiers, mysterious women, and more.

Experiencing Haunted New Orleans


Naturally, a city like New Orleans comes alongside numerous options to see it at its best. There are multiple historic tours that can ensure eager visitors don’t miss a beat when it comes to the Big Easy’s most noteworthy sights. There are also many ghost and supernatural tours that specialize in showing visitors around New Orleans’s most haunted locations.

Those who are a bit more adventurous and delight in experiencing a city on their own can easily do things solo, of course. Make sure you get the most out of your visit by reading up on New Orleans as a city and a cultural destination before you go. Keep a running list of the places you’d most like to visit, and stage your own walking tour for your family and travel companions when you get there!