History and Famous Graves at Metairie Cemetery

Whether you head to the Metairie Cemetery for a good scare, a little bit of history, or simply a calm, quiet place to reflect, there’s so much to learn at this beautifully landscaped space along Old Metairie Road on Metairie Ridge. The cemetery dates from 1872, and it has housed wealthy and famous “residents” in the decades since. The cemetery features elaborate tombs; some are clustered together in a section known as “Millionaire’s Row.” More humble graves where less-affluent families have laid their loved ones to rest make up the remainder of the cemetery.

Peaceful, pretty Metairie Cemetery. (Photo via Flickr user Loco Steve)

Peaceful, pretty Metairie Cemetery. (Photo via Flickr user Loco Steve)

The History

The Metairie Cemetery features a lot of interesting history for Civil War buffs. In fact, two of the cemetery’s largest burial sites were built specifically for veterans of the Civil War. You’ll see a huge column featuring a statue of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson as well as tombs for prominent Civil War figures like Jefferson Davis and Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard.

The Architecture

The graves feature a mix of styles that show the cemetery’s age. You’ll see Italianate and Classical Revival styles as well as Gothic Revival. Statues, elaborate tombs, and simple graves all stand side by side in this beautifully landscaped graveyard, featuring meticulously clipped lawns and walkways that allude to the cemetery’s former life as a horseracing track in the early 1800s.

cemetery-architecture

You’ll see interesting architecture throughout the cemetery. (Photo via Flickr user Michael Homan)

Famous “Residents”

Here are just a few examples of the graves you’ll see in Metairie Cemetery:

  • William Claiborne – d. Nov. 23, 1817; U.S. congressman, senator, and Louisiana governor
  • Alvin Copeland — d. March 23, 2008; created Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits
  • Eve Curie — d. Oct. 22, 2007; the daughter of famous scientist Marie Curie
  • Jefferson Davis — d. Dec. 6, 1889; the president of the Confederate States of America (note: Davis’ remains were later transferred to Richmond, Virginia, but the tombstone remains)
  • Andrew Higgins — d. Aug. 1, 1952; inventor and shipbuilder who created the PT boats used during World War II
  • Louis Prima — d. Aug. 24, 1978; acclaimed jazz musician

For a full list, visit the Find a Grave website.

How to Get There

The cemetery is located at the junction of I-10 and Metairie Road and is technically in New Orleans city limits. From most of our New Orleans-area 1st Lake Properties, you’ll simply take I-10 East to exist 231A for City Park Ave/Metairie Road. Cars are allowed inside the cemetery, which closes at 5 p.m.

 

Take a Trip to Rivertown in Kenner

Though it’s just a short drive from Metairie, River Ridge, and downtown New Orleans, Rivertown in Kenner feels like you’ve traveled much farther to a quaint and picturesque village along the Mississippi River. In 2014, Rivertown was selected as a “USA Main Street” community for its charming historic district. Even though the area is small, it packs in a whole lot of things to do. Ready to make the (quick) trip to Rivertown? Here’s what you’ll find: 

Kenner Planetarium & Megadome Cinema

The 50-foot high, domed screen at the Kenner Planetarium & Megadome Cinema makes for an incredible viewing experience. Events like laser light shows and presentations related to astronomy will have your head in the stars. And at a cost of just $5-6 per show, it’s an affordable, educational alternative to your usual action films or romantic comedies.

kenner planetarium

The Rivertown Planetarium. (Photo courtesy Kenner.la.us)

LaSalle’s Landing

At the foot of the levee on Williams Boulevard, you’ll find LaSalle’s Landing, a historic spot that also offers stunning views of the Mississippi River. Flags from ten different countries along the levee represent all of the different nations who governed Louisiana at one time or another. At the top of the levee, you’ll find yourself in a prime spot for watching ships cruise by, as well as paths for biking and walking. Fun fact: LaSalle’s Landing was also where the first heavyweight boxing championship took place, way back in 1870. 

lasalles landing

Steps take you up to LaSalle’s Landing. (Photo courtesy Kenner.la.us)

Castle Comedy Theatre

Work in a good laugh during your trip to Rivertown at Castle Comedy Theater, a small, intimate venue to enjoy up-and-coming acts or even take a comedy workshop. The space only seats about 80 people, so make sure to look into getting tickets in advance.

Rivertown Science Center

This science center is truly for people of all ages. Although there are special sections devoted to younger kids, older children and adults alike will enjoy features like a full-size NASA International Space Station prototype (fondly called “Kenner Space Station”) – it’s one of only two prototypes in existence today. The museum also features exhibits on minerals, insects, optical illusions, and waterways plus interactive components like a green screen to test your skills at forecasting the weather.

The Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts

Professional theatrical performances and musicals all happen at the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts, a duo of theaters linked by a picturesque outdoor courtyard. Performances range from well-known stage productions like “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “The Producers” to theater adaptations of films like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Shrek.”

Farmers Markets and Other Events

Rivertown often holds seasonal events like Oktoberfest and a holiday market and craft show in addition to an ongoing farmers’ market with produce, handicrafts, and more.

Rivertown Heritage Park

The 16-block historic district of Rivertown also includes the Rivertown Heritage Park, featuring a beautifully landscaped green space that often includes special events like movie screenings or live music. The park is only open to the general public on Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., so be sure to go on a Saturday morning to enjoy sights like a pond, covered bridge, and replicated turn-of-the-century buildings like an ice house and traditional blacksmith shop.

A quaint replica building in Heritage Park. (Photo courtesy Kenner.la.us)

A quaint replica building in Heritage Park. (Photo courtesy Kenner.la.us)

 

 

Get Pedaling! Biking in Elmwood and River Ridge

Biking in Elmwood, Harahan, and River Ridge is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and get some exercise. Whether you pedal around Lafreniere Park or use online tools like Map My Ride or Trail Link, riding your bike is one of the best ways to explore Elmwood, River Ridge, and beyond.

The Mississippi River Trail winds along the levee, offering a scenic route for cyclists. (Photo via Trail Link user Britte Lowther)

The Mississippi River Trail winds along the levee, offering a scenic route for cyclists. (Photo via Trail Link user Britte Lowther)

One of the most popular areas to bike in this area is the the Mississippi River Trail, a 60-mile long series of paved trails along the levee of the Mighty Mississippi, sometimes also known as the levee bike path. The section that stretches between Audubon Park in New Orleans and the Bonnet Carré Spillway in St. Charles Parish is a favorite among local cyclists.

Take a look at some of the best reasons to incorporate biking into your fitness routine, as well as tips for cyclists and motorists to keep everyone safe as they share the roads.

Why Bike? Top 3 Fitness Reasons

  1. You’ll build strength and muscle tone. Of course riding your bike is good for your legs, but it’s also an activity that can strengthen your full body, including your core and arms. As you’re riding, notice how you use your abdominal muscles to help stabilize you and keep you balanced – they’re constantly contracting to keep you in motion, which can help lead to lean, tone abs. Even your feet will benefit from a bike ride! The pedaling motion helps strengthen muscles in the feet including the dorsiflexors and plantar flexors.
  1. It’s a stress buster. Any kind of exercise can aid in stress reduction, but bike riding in particular can help you feel relaxed. As you breathe in fresh air and admire the scenery of nature around you, you’ll be able to put your stress in perspective and save it for another day.
  1. You’ll see improvement in your coordination. Biking is one of those full-body activities where everything needs to be working together in order to keep riding. Arm-to-leg coordination, feet-to-hand coordination, eye coordination as you watch the road, and overall balance are all required to ride a bike – not to mention your brain as you work out which paths to take during your ride.
bicycle

Bicycling is a healthy activity any time of year in Louisiana. (Photo via Flickr user Ethan Lofton)

How to Bike Safely

Biking is a fun and healthy activity, but it’s important to take safety precautions whether you’re a cyclist or a motorist sharing the road with bike riders. Here are a few best practices from the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development:

For Cyclists:

First things first, remember that bikes on the roadway are vehicles, meaning they have all the same rights and responsibilities as a car, truck, motorcycle, or any other vehicle on the road.

  • Follow the rules of the road. Cyclists are required to stop at stop signs, follow traffic signals at traffic lights, and be mindful of any other rules of the road.
  • Ride in the direction of traffic. And stay as far to the right as you can!
  • Shine bright. If you’re riding at night, you are required to use bike lights and reflectors (white for front, red for the back).
  • Give yourself a hand. Use hand signals when you are stopping and when you turn.
  • Respect vehicles and pedestrians. Remember, you don’t always have the right of way! If you’re exiting a driveway, for example, you’re required to yield to pedestrians and any oncoming traffic.

For Motorists:

First things first: you have your lanes, and bicyclists have theirs. Be mindful of any bike lanes!

  • Pass safely. If you need to pass a bicyclist, give as much leeway as you safely can. You’re required to provide at least 3 feet of passing space.
  • Remember to share. If you’re in a shared lane, it’s your responsibility to make room for any bicyclists.
  • Easy open. Remember to check for bicyclists before opening your car door!
  • Be respectful. Avoid harassing bicyclists by yelling or honking your horn.
Bella Ridge Apartments in River Ridge, LA offer spacious storage, perfect for cycling enthusiasts.

Bella Ridge Apartments in River Ridge, LA offer spacious storage, perfect for cycling enthusiasts.

Where Local Biking Enthusiasts Choose To Live

Our newest property, Bella Ridge Apartments in River Ridge is located just minutes away from the Mississippi River Trail, and these spacious luxury apartments offer plenty of closet and storage space for storing your bicycle and cycling gear. This apartment community also features a 24 hour fitness center on-site as well as “Bella Bark,” a gated dog park just for your four-legged friends!

Caffeine Fix: Where to Get Coffee in Metairie and Kenner

Iced, hot, morning, night – there’s no wrong type or time of day when it comes to coffee. While you can always head to Starbucks or local favorites CC’s and PJ’s for a caffeine fix, we’re taking a look at a few other coffee shops and cafes near our properties. Sip a la carte or pair your drink with a pastry or even a full-blown breakfast meal at select cafes. Below, the perfect ways to perk up:

French Press Coffeehouse. (Photo via French Press Coffeehouse on Facebook)

French Press Coffeehouse. (Photo via French Press Coffeehouse on Facebook)

Caffe! Caffe! With locations on Clearview Parkway and N. Hullen Street in Metairie, this local shop has received awards for the past 5 years honoring its standout brews.

Royal Blend Coffee & Tea Much like Old Metairie itself, Royal Blend is a charming and picturesque spot to order a drink. Sip inside its café interior, or take your drink to go and browse the surrounding shops in this small shopping center just off Metairie Road.

French Press Coffeehouse With locations in Metairie and Kenner, this coffee shop has all the convenience of a Starbucks, but better because it’s locally owned and operated. You’ll find comparable drinks to a Starbucks menu (think frappe-style frozen blends, flavored lattes, and more) made lovingly and at a more reasonable price. They also offer loyalty perks like a punch card and coupons for your birthday. Comfy, booth-style seats are an unexpected change from typical cafe seating.

Lakeview Brew – Local art adorns the walls, and both indoor and patio seating let you choose where you want to enjoy your cappuccino, iced coffee, or whatever you consider to be your signature brew. Despite the coffee-centric name, this spot on Canal Boulevard in Lakeview also offers a large food selection. Try the breakfast “brew-rito” with a strong, hot latte to start the day.

Puccino’s Coffee With several locations in Metairie and Harahan, this local chain prides itself on Italian-style coffee. The simple Iced Puccino is a solid choice: just slightly sweetened, the mix of espresso and milk over ice is tasty any time of day. The Skinny Wedding Cake Latte is another favorite, topped with low-fat whipped cream and slivered almonds.

Morning Call Coffee Stand – It’s open 24 hours a day, so you can get your caffeine fix at any time. Another draw? Beignets. Head to locations in City Park and on Severn Avenue in Metairie.

 

 

Commemorate Hurricane Katrina with Local Events

There isn’t much to say about Hurricane Katrina, the natural disaster that prompted failure of the federal levees and left much of New Orleans and the Gulf South submerged and in shambles. But we can reflect.

The City of New Orleans, through its Katrina 10 program, features several events happening in connection with the anniversary of the storm, which happened 10 years ago as of Aug. 29. Take a look at some of the Katrina-related events happening around New Orleans – whether you choose to remember is up to you. You can also visit Katrina 10 for a full list of events.

nola skyline

Photo via Flickr user Infrogmation New Orleans

Katrina 10 Media Center Events

When: Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 – Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, 500 Canal Street

What: This weeklong series of panel discussions focuses on stories of organizations, government officials, and individuals on subjects like civic engagement, criminal justice reform, and culture and tourism since Hurricane Katrina. Registration required. Learn more here.

Katrina Memorial Wreath-Laying Ceremony

When: Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 at 8:29 a.m.

Where: Hurricane Katrina Memorial, 5056 Canal Street

What: A morning prayer service at the Katrina Memorial commemorating the unidentified and unclaimed bodies from the storm.

Citywide Day of Service

When: Saturday, Aug. 29 starting at 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Where: Various locations throughout the city of New Orleans

What: A day of service where thousands of volunteers will focus on service across seven parts of the city. All in all, volunteers will help support more than 100 different projects. Learn more here.

Ten Years Gone at New Orleans Museum of Art

When: Through Sept. 7

Where: New Orleans Museum of Art, 1 Collins Diboll Circle

What: A multimedia exhibit focused on themes of memory, loss, and revitalization. The exhibit features abstract visualizations rather than overt references to the storm. Learn more here.

The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City at The Historic New Orleans Collection

When: Aug. 22 through Jan. 9, 2016

Where: The Historic New Orleans Collection, 533 Royal Street

What: A collection of 77 photographs from local photographer David Spielman touching on themes of destruction and stunted recovery. Learn more here.

Homage: New Orleans at the New Orleans Healing Center

When: Now through Aug. 30

Where: The New Orleans Healing Center, 2372 St. Claude Ave

What: A fine art photographic journal that will eventually become a coffee table book of the same name. Browse images capturing some of the most influential jazz, blues, soul, and roots musicians as you read accompanying text about these important members of the community. Learn more here.

 

 

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