New Orleans today is the product of hundreds of years of rich and diverse history. A variety of cultural influences have come together to create the unique culture that the city is known for around the world.
But that history has a dark side.
New Orleans is riddled with local urban legends and other paranormal phenomena. Considering the horrors wreaked by colonization, slavery, war and natural disasters that the area has endured through out its history, the list of urban legends and bizarre occurrences is long.
Here are just a few:
1. The LaLaurie Mansion
This Creole Mansion on Royal Street was first occupied in 1832 by the LaLaurie Family. Madamae Delphine LaLaurie was an affluent but violent woman who was said to torture the slaves and servants that lived in her home.
In 1834 a fire was started in the kitchen of the mansion by one of her servants who had had enough of her abuse. When the fire was finally put out authorities were shocked by what they discovered. The remains of tortured and chained slaves and servants were found in various states of dismemberment.
LaLaurie escaped and eventually fled to France, but the horrors that occurred in the building did not end there. Reports of loud screams and dismembered apparitions appearing in the home whenever new tenants would move in. There is speculation about whether or not Madame LaLaurie actually tortured her slaves as gruesomely as it was reported.
There have been many rumors about strange things happening to those who attempted to live in the mansion. Currently, the mansion is a private residence and isn’t open for public viewing, but still gets plenty of attention from haunted tour groups year round.
2. The Grunch Road Monster
This urban legend originates from the name of a road located in eastern New Orleans. This area was where people that were deemed misfits were forced to live, as an effort to “clean up” the city.
Shortly after this, there were reports of disappearances from hunters, fishermen and spectators who had heard of a possible creature living in the area. Eventually, local farmers in the area began noticing that their goats were disappearing and being used as “bait” to attract new prey to the area.
The creature was considered to be a descendant of the human misfits that were exiled to the area, and was undetectable… until it was too late. Unfortunately, there is still much debate over where Grunch Road is actually located in the city, making it hard to pinpoint any “verified” sightings.
3. The Destruction of the Levees in the Lower 9th Ward
New Orleans is a city built below sea level, creating a significant threat of flooding during hurricane season. After Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005, the entire city dealt with significant water damage, much of which was due to levee failure. A major source of controversy and speculation centered around the level failure in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans.
Many residents in this neighborhood recall hearing an explosion, insinuating that the levees were intentionally demolished, to prevent flooding in other neighborhoods. There are many documented accounts of people saying that the levees were indeed blown up, but it has never been officially proven or disproven.
4. The Devil Man of Algiers
In 1938, a man with long black horns reportedly rode on the air, terrorizing people on the west bank of New Orleans. In the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, people recalled seeing this man with “cartoonish eyes, long horns and pink ears” terrorize couples in and around local bars.
While it was said that he never actually killed anyone, it was said he did cause “temporary deaths” where people’s lives would flash before their eyes. There have been no recent reports or sightings regarding this legend, but residents of the neighborhood still recall the tale
5. Le Feu Follet
The Cajun Fairy, otherwise known as the Feu Follet, are spirits or fairies that are thought to be the souls of loved ones. According to the legend, they typically appear as balls of fire in swampy areas surrounding New Orleans.
They also can appear in a malevolent form as evil spirits that appear as balls of light to mislead those who encounter them. The seemingly harmless ball of light would cause the victim to wander and eventually drown. These malicious lights have reportedly also been seen in many graveyards and cemeteries in Southern Louisiana. To this day, locals still warn people not to follow any fiery balls of light they may see while in the swamps or cemeteries, so test this one out at your own risk.
Overall, many of the urban legends tied to New Orleans are associated with its super and sometimes macabre phenomena.
While many of these legends have been proven to just be tales, some are still mysteries, being passed along throughout the generations. There is no shortage of mystery and folklore in one of the most unique cities in the world.