The City Beneath the City: Archaeology of New Orleans

This tour includes information about archaeological sites already investigated in Orleans Parish. Some of these sites are now destroyed. Others are no longer accessible or have considerable untapped research potential. Most are on private property and not readily accessible to the public.

As there are few protections for archaeological resources in the city, the locations of some of these projects are only approximate. We ask that you do your part to help us preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the city. Please contact us or the Louisiana Division of Archaeology if you are aware of archaeological resources that are being destroyed.

This tour was created with the participation of students from Dr. Ryan Gray's 'Archaeology of New Orleans' course at UNO and with support from students in the MSUS and Urban Studies Ph.D. programs at UNO. We are continuously updating and adding more sites and subtours/exhibits. You can also check out our lab's CatalogIt page at https://hub.catalogit.app/9619.

Please contact Dr. Gray with questions or suggestions at drgray1@uno.edu.

St. Peter Street Cemetery

The St. Peter Street Cemetery was one of the city’s first formal burial grounds, eventually occupying the entirety of the city block bounded by N. Rampart, St. Peter, Burgundy, and Toulouse Streets. It is shown on maps by the mid-1720s, and, even…

Madame John’s Legacy

Madame John’s Legacy, located at 628-632 Dumaine Street, is often considered one of the best surviving examples of French Colonial architecture in the French Quarter, even though the existing structure was built in 1788 during Spanish colonial rule.…

810 Royal Street

On October 22nd, 2014, an over-200-year-old building at 810 Royal Street collapsed, presumably a victim of unrepaired termite and moisture damage. The collapse sparked conversations in New Orleans about the importance of historic preservation. The…

St. Anthony's Garden

Saint Anthony’s Garden is located just behind the landmark St. Louis Cathedral in the heart of the French Quarter. The space is easily identifiable by the large iron fence and the statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched that casts a remarkable…

The Cabildo

Today, the Cabildo is a facility of the Louisiana State Museum, but the courtyard of the Cabildo was the location of a city prison complex for nearly two hundred years, across French, Spanish, and American rule. Constructed in 1730, the prison and…

The Hermann-Grima House

The Hermann-Grima house at 820 St. Louis Street is a Federal-style mansion built in 1831 for Samuel Hermann, a German-born immigrant who moved to New Orleans in 1810. The lot on which it stands has a developmental history going back to at least 1728.…

The Rising Sun Hotel

Many visitors to New Orleans are familiar with the song “The House of the Rising Sun,” made popular by the English band The Animals in 1967. The song itself has roots far back in English folk balladry, long before any association with New Orleans.…

626 Bourbon Street: Crucibles in the Antebellum Imagination

In 2017, Dr. D. Ryan Gray led students and volunteers from University of New Orleans to excavate a portion of a private residence in the French Quarter located at 626 Bourbon Street. The team excavated a series of test units and shovel tests in the…

936 St. Peter Street: A Cottage Industry in the Quarter

In 2014, the University of New Orleans was invited to conduct archaeological testing at 936 St. Peter Street while the property was undergoing renovations. Below the surface layer, archaeologists discovered the opening of a privy shaft. The privy was…

Congo Square/Armstrong Park

During 1977 and 1978, the University of New Orleans conducted an archaeological project within what is now Armstrong Park. It focused on two areas, the Jazz Complex, a small area around what had been Perseverance Hall, and Congo Square, the commons…

St. Augustine/Tremé Plantation Site

During 1998 and 1999, the Greater New Orleans Archaeology Program, under the direction of Christopher Mathews, undertook testing and data recovery at the St. Augustine Site (16OR148), in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. The site, currently…

Temple of the Innocent Blood

Today, nothing identifies the location in the Lower Ninth Ward where Mother Catherine Seals' “Temple of the Innocent Blood” once stood. This was true even before Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005 when the nondescript block where it was…

The Lower Ninth Ward: Community and Placemaking

A hundred years ago, the area around the 2400 block of Lamanche Street was occupied by the Temple of the Innocent Blood, a spiritism church that was created and run by Mother Catherine Seals. From 1922 until her death in 1930, Mother Catherine…

Big Oak and Little Oak Islands

Big Oak Island and Little Oak Island are camps and habitation sites associated with the people of the Tchefuncte culture of the Lower Mississippi Valley, dating from as early as 800 BCE to as late as AD 200. The sites are located in the marshes of…

The Greater New Orleans Bridge Number 2

In 1983, archaeologists of Coastal Environments, Inc. conducted extensive testing and excavations for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development in the areas of the proposed east-bound Greater New Orleans Bridge Number 2. The first…

Guste Homes: Excavating a Central City Neighborhood

According to the U.S. National Historic Preservation Act, any time a federal agency does something that could affect historic resources, it must take into account the effects of those actions. In the case of archaeology, this typically means…

The Gex Pottery Site at the Lafitte Housing Project

In 2007, a team of archaeologists excavated the remains of a property enumerated “253 Carondelet Walk,” an address that had at one point operated as a nineteenth-century kiln manufactory along the walkway of the historical “Carondelet Canal.”…

Charity Hospital Cemetery No. 2 (Introduction)

Nearly 50,000 burials lie beneath Canal Boulevard, originally Charity Hospital Cemetery No. 2. Nearly forgotten since Canal Boulevard's addition to the city's roadways in 1937, road crews rediscovered the cemetery when they added a south-bound lane…

Charity Hospital Cemetery No. 2: Excavations from 1980s

The Charity Hospital’s Cemetery No 2. * was used actively between the 1850s and the 1920s to bury the poor and those who succumbed to illness and disease at the hospital. Included in these burials were enslaved people, immigrants, victims of a yellow…

Locust Grove Cemeteries No. 1 and 2 and Thomy Lafon School

Today the blocks bound by Magnolia, Seventh, Freret, and Sixth streets appear to be a vacant greenspace. However, for nearly a century, these two blocks housed the Thomy Lafon School complex. Originally built in 1906, the property operated as a…