New Orleans is one scary city where 90 percent of the people believe in ghosts according to a recent article on the WWL radio website. I don’t know where they get the 90% number from but not only are ghost stories part of our heritage I would bet most people here have a ghost story or two of their own.
New Orleans is One Scary City Where Most Believe in Ghosts
Growing up, my parents, especially my dad, would promote the idea that we had a family ghost whose name was Gus that lived in the attic. Gus, of course, was a friendly ghost. And we still tell our young nieces and nephews about him, and some are afraid to sleep here in our house because of the stories about Gus. When they ask if Gus is for real, we just kind of hem and haw without admitting it one way or the other.
Now, I don’t really know if Gus is for real. I just know there have been some strange things happen in this old house, you know, like noises and sounds. I’ve had dreams of someone or something hovering over me which could just be a creation of my own mind from some morsel of food, something more of gravy than grave, as Dickens’ Scrooge would describe it.
My nephew tells of a time he was visiting when he was awakened by something in the middle of the night. Upon sitting up in bed saw the bedroom door slowly close a few feet. I think I’ve heard footsteps and sounds like someone coming up the stairs in the dead of night. It’s these experiences that make me hesitate when a wary child asks if Gus is real. Frankly, I just don’t know and if it is real its name is probably not Gus… or maybe it is.
Cosmopolitan magazine lists New Orleans as being the second most haunted city in the United States with Salem, Massachusetts, the site of the infamous witch trails, as number one. Estes Park, CO is on that list too. Go figure.
Perhaps the reason most people believe in ghosts in New Orleans is because we live in old houses which tend to be the structures most frequented by ghosts. And also, despite what you might get from the news media about all the supposed debauchery that goes on here, New Orleans is probably the most religious city in the country. So, spirituality is an integral part of our lifestyle and customs – even if you have no religious affiliation or you’re an atheist!
The article asserts that there is something about being near large bodies of water where ghostly sitings prevail:
“It seems to have something to do with the age of the city and the fact that it’s by so much water,” says the article’s author, Kelly McClure.
She’s not sure what water has to do with it, but that’s what her research shows.
“I’m coming to find that haunted locations are usually by large bodies of water.”
“New Orleans, being as old as it is…so many souls have come and gone…and the fact that it’s by water, seems to make it a hotbed for all of this activity.”
And New Orleans is between two huge bodies of water – the Mississippi River to the south and Lake Pontchartrain to the North. So there ya go.
Another thing. Whereas most cities put their cemeteries on the outskirts of the city away from populated areas, New Orleans is dotted with numerous old cemeteries right in the middle of neighborhoods. One of the most famous is the Lafayette Cemetery right in the heart of the Garden District across the street from the iconic restaurant Commander’s Palace. So the cities of the dead live right among the city of the living.
And I’ve always said, and most would agree, local and visitor alike, that there is a mysterious something about New Orleans, that is difficult to put into words, a spiritual something to the place that grabs you and won’t let go. Could it have something to do with those who have come and gone before us and the lasting impression they’ve left on the city?
So New Orleans is one scary city. Hm. Perhaps “scary” is not the right word. Maybe “spooky” is better. And most likely it’s occupied by a lot of ghosts – I would say most of them friendly. It’s possible one of them named Gus “lives” in our house. Who knows?