Exploring History–Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza is the site of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Dallas is where we began and ended our Monopoly travels for 2016 and we wanted to spend some time in Dallas taking in a sight or two. When researching things to do and see in Dallas, Dealey Plaza seemed the most intriguing so that is the first thing we headed to see. Our flight landed mid-morning on a sunny, mild Thursday. After collecting our bags and renting a car for the week it was lunch time so we headed to a nearby place to grab a quick bite and then we were off to downtown Dallas.

Dealey Plaza panoramic

Map of the landmarks surrounding Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza is much the same as it was in November or 1963 making it easier to imagine the events of the JFK assassination (although some of the skyline has changed). Once parked on this warming spring afternoon, the first stop was the Sixth Floor Museum which was the location Lee Harvey Oswald shot from. Along the way from a nearby parking lot it hits you as you look to right, this is it, this is where President Kennedy was killed. Right there on that street! I’ve been asked a couple of times what the street is like. Many expect it has become a memorial no longer in use except by pedestrians exploring this historical place. To the contrary, it is a busy street much in use as any other street except this one bears an ‘X’ in the middle of it to mark the location of the killing shot.

X marks the spot

Entering the old book depository, which is now a museum, a sense of curiosity and sadness overtakes you. There is a place to purchase tickets and wait in line for your time to ride an elevator to the 6th floor to learn more about the assassination. Be warned, the procedure of getting tickets and entering the waiting line gets a little confusing and seems inefficient but there are staff to direct you around. As the doors open on the 6th floor you enter a dimly lit maze of informational boards, videos, and physical displays all there to provide information leading you to an unfortunate and expected end. There’s a look back at John and Jackie’s up bringing as well as their road to the white house as president and first lady and the policies put forth by JFK.  All of this is providing a better understanding of the potential reason Kennedy was not popular among some groups and why they may have wanted him killed. As you move through the museum, these displays move towards the assassination itself and the timeline of what happened during that short period of time and how that information was broadcast throughout the world. The museum ends with Lee Harvey Oswald being shot as well and the evidence used by the Warren Commission to declare Oswald as working alone and how he assassinated the President. There is a small amount of evidence pointing to the infamous ‘grassy knoll’. Our day in Dallas ended with a drive down Elm Street passing over the ‘X’ in the road to get one final perspective of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The grassy knoll in the upper right and triple overpass

You can watch documentaries or movies, read books, and see pictures of Dealey Plaza but it is not the same as being in the area and viewing it with your own eyes. Pictures and videos don’t give you the same sense of perspective. It’s difficult to imagine the skill required to make the shots Lee Harvey Oswald is credited with or where the crowds gathered, how sharp the turn is the motorcade made to go down Elm St until you see it yourself and walk through the depository looking over the plaza. An educational experience for those who are able to do so.