The answer, or part of it, at least, is as old as the city itself.
Rumor has it that New Orleans was founded on the swampy river delta that was once a sacred Native American burial ground. It is said that the spirits did not appreciate it when, in 1718, modern-day New Orleans began being constructed over what was supposed to be their final resting place. There are people who believes that some of New Orleans' ghosts are the frustrated souls of those buried beneath the city.
Then, for the first decades of New Orleans' existence, France sent over laborers from its prisons to help construct the city. This meant there was an influx of murderers, rapists and thieves -- characters with colorful pasts, many of whom weren't about the change their ways in America.
New Orleans grew and flourished as an important trading city. Fortunes were made and lost, and sailors, madams and other rowdy individuals frequented its streets. This led to dramatic situations that, ghost-hunters say, made it hard for spirits to leave this world for the next. ManyNew Orleans ghosts from this period have dramatic or heart-rending backstories; jilted lovers, brides left at the altar, people taken from life before they could complete their work on this earth.
New Orleans has always been a magnet for eccentric and strange characters. Delphine LaLaurie, for example, was a New Orleans socialite who is believed to have tortured slaves in her Royal Street mansion. Some of the spirits of the unfortunate people she is said to have tortured are rumored to linger near the site of their horrible mistreatment.
So, which of these ghosts will you see when you tour New Orleans? That depends on when you visit and which parts of the city you go to see. One thing is for certain, though -- you won't lack for mysterious, frightening or sad tales of the past to explore.
Author: Erich Roeseler