Dallas Stories and Tips

Dealey Plaza

The grassy knoll at Dealey Plaza Photo, Dallas, Texas

Ask almost any American over the age of 50 where they were and what they were doing on November 22, 1963, and most can tell you. That was the day that John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and that event just seems to stick in people's minds.

As the president’s motorcade entered Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, three shots rang out, leaving the president dead and Texas Governor Connelly seriously wounded. The presidential motorcade rushed to nearby Parkland Hospital, where an unsuccessful attempt was made to resuscitate the president. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested a few hours later and charged with assassinating the president, but nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot him to death in the basement of the Dallas Police Station before he ever went to trial.

The Warren Commission, charged by Congress with determining the facts surrounding the death of President Kennedy, determined that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the three shots from a sixth-floor window of the Texas Book Depository where he worked, and that he acted alone. However, many claim that there was another gunman located on the grassy knoll adjacent to Dealey Plaza, and based on eyewitness evidence, much speculation, and apparent inconsistencies seen in an amateur video taken of the assassination as it happened, conspiracy theories abound, making the Kennedy assassination one of the most discussed events in recent history. The truth of what actually happened will probably never be known.

The Texas Book Depository has been turned into a museum dedicated to chronicling the assassination and the historical events surrounding it. Dealey Plaza has been named a national historic landmark. I have been fascinated with the Kennedy assassination for years, so on our recent trip to Dallas, we visited Dealey Plaza. Unfortunately, it was nearly closing time for the museum, so we opted not to pay the $10 per person admission fee for a 30-minute visit.

We were able to walk around Dealey Plaza and spend time in the area. A memorial structure has been built on the famed grassy knoll, and it contains interesting displays and information about the assassination. A historical marker has been placed along the highway marking the spot where the president’s limousine was when he was struck by the fatal shot.

Unfortunately, the site has been overrun by individuals attempting to sell magazines and books touting one conspiracy theory or another to the tourists and history buffs who visit. These salesmen are rather aggressive and can become annoying as they hound guests at every street corner or at the major areas visited at the site. Getting rid of these salesmen requires a firm "no" and occasionally even a rude attitude.

In spite of the high-pressure salesmen that hound visitors at the site, it is well worth the visit, especially for history buffs or anyone interested in the assassination. This was my second visit to Dealey Plaza, and I am yet to get to tour the museum. I would really have liked to do so on this visit, but simply walking the site and seeing the window from which the fatal shots were allegedly fired made the historical knowledge learned in the past more interesting and understandable. As you walk the sidewalks and stand on the grassy knoll, it isn’t hard to imagine the chaos that must have erupted in this small area on that fateful November day.

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