Dealey Plaza – Where JFK Was AssassinatedNov 22nd, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: This and That
As most of my fellow stalkers already well know due to the deluge of media attention, today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was not yet even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes on November 22nd, 1963, so I did not experience the tragic events firsthand, but they have always intrigued me. I have read quite a bit on the subject, watched countless documentaries and, of course, have my conjectures – as do most Americans. While not a conspiracy theorist, I find it incredibly difficult to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I do not think there was a second (or third) gunman in Dealey Plaza that afternoon, but I do strongly suspect that someone put Oswald up to the shooting. Knowing Kennedy’s relationship with organized crime, the fact that Lee was murdered by mobster Jack Ruby less than 48 hours after the assassination only furthers my belief. Simply put, I think someone wanted to shut him up. Whatever the true story is, I doubt it will ever come to light, but it sure is fascinating to speculate over. So when my good friends/fellow stalkers Lavonna and Kim headed to Dallas, Texas last week and informed me that they would be touring Dealey Plaza, I asked if they would tell me of their experiences and share their photographs for a blog post. They were happy to do so and sent me a plethora of pics and information, without which this write-up would not have been possible. So thank you, Lavonna and Kim!
In most of the JFK documentaries I have watched, visitors to Dealey Plaza invariably comment on the site being much smaller in person than it appears to be in photographs and on film. Kim and Lavonna had the same reaction. Kim said, “I was surprised by the size, it always seemed more spread out in photos.” And Lavonna stated that after being on the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository building and seeing the spot from which Oswald made his fateful shots and its proximity to the motorcade route, she came to the belief that he was the sole gunman.
Kim, Lavonna and Debbie’s first stop once arriving in the plaza was The Sixth Floor Museum, which was established inside of the Depository building in 1989. After the Texas School Book Depository Company moved out of the structure in 1970, there were plans to demolish it. Local citizens protested the tear-down, though, and the county finally acquired the property in 1977. The site was then renovated and re-opened as the Dallas County Administration Building in 1981. Only the lower five floors of the space were used as offices – the sixth and seventh were left vacant.
Because the location remained such a tourist draw, plans were eventually drawn up for a museum to be installed on the empty levels. The site was opened to the public on Presidents’ Day 1989.
The Sixth Floor Museum serves as a tribute to Kennedy’s presidency and legacy, and also chronicles the dark day in which he was murdered. Several exhibits and artifacts are featured inside, including the sign that hung at the Depository’s entrance in 1963.
Also displayed are amazing chromogenic prints of both John and Jackie Kennedy, each designed by Alex Guofeng Cao. The portrait of John was created by merging 50,000 tiny images of Jackie. How incredible is that?
Jackie’s print, in turn, consists of 50,000 fused photos of John.
Oswald’s infamous sniper perch, which was both painstakingly restored to its 1963 condition and re-created using crime scene pictures, is exhibited, as well, albeit behind a glass partition. Of the display, Kim said, “Scruffs in the floor, the boxes, light fixtures, etc. are frozen in time.” Sadly, photographs were not permitted in that area. You can check out a picture of what the space looks like on The Sixth Floor Museum website here. Kim described being in the vicinity of such a tragic event as such, “I found the whole experience very sad. I don’t know a lot about Kennedy and his politics, or the assassination and all that followed. But you can definitely tell this was a pivotal moment for America that was felt worldwide.”
Photographs were allowed from the window located directly above Oswald’s perch. That view is pictured below.
Upon leaving the museum, Kim, Lavonna and Debbie walked the final segment of Kennedy’s fateful parade route, starting on Houston Street, from which, at 12:29 p.m. on November 22nd, 1963, the presidential motorcade made a sharp left onto Elm Street, directly in front of the Texas School Book Depository building.
That turn caused the convoy to slow considerably as it headed toward what has since become known as the “triple overpass.”
Two white X’s, painted by the countless vendors who sell JFK memorabilia in the plaza, mark the ground on Elm Street where Kennedy was shot at 12:30 p.m. Amazingly, during preparations for the 50th anniversary commemoration that will be taking place in Dealey Plaza today, the pavement where those X’s were imprinted was scraped away (two layers of it – right down to the brick!) and then paved over once again. Talk about drastic measures! After the shots, the motorcade headed under the triple overpass and drove 3.5 miles to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1 p.m.
Directly north of those X’s is the much-talked-about grassy knoll, where police initially ran following the shooting. Many believe that a second gunman stood behind the wooden fence (which is a reproduction of the original) that runs along the northern end of the area.
It was on the grassy knoll, on top of the white pillar pictured below, that Abraham Zapruder stood, his secretary perched on the ground behind him providing balance, while shooting his now infamous video.
Lavonna, Kim and Debbie next embarked upon the JFK Trolley Tour, put on by Big D Fun Tours, which retraced both the presidential motorcade route and Lee Harvey Oswald’s steps following the assassination. Immediately after the shooting, Lee ducked out of the Texas School Book Depository building, walked a few blocks, caught a bus, then a taxi, and headed about three miles south to the boarding house where he had been living.
The residence, which is currently owned by Patricia Hall (granddaughter of Gladys Johnson, the home’s 1963 proprietor), has not changed one iota in the past fifty years, as you can see below.
The place, which offers tours, is currently for sale for $500,000.
Amazingly enough, the real life boarding house was used in the filming of the 1991 movie JFK. (A number of the actual assassination locations appeared in the flick – far too many for me to chronicle here.)
The actual interior of the home, including Lee’s actual former bedroom, was also featured.
You can watch a fascinating video about the residence by clicking below.
After leaving the boarding house, Oswald walked south. Near the intersection of 10th and Patton Streets, Officer J.D. Tippit spotted Lee and stopped him to ask some questions from his police car. When Tippit tried to exit the cruiser during the conversation, Lee shot him three times. He then went around to the rear of the car and fired again before fleeing the scene. A witness called police to report the incident and Tippit was subsequently transported to Methodist Hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.
A memorial plaque for the fallen officer was installed at the site in 2012. (It was instituted a year prior to the 50th anniversary, so that the event would not be overshadowed by today’s commemoration for JFK.)
After shooting Tippet, Oswald passed by the Ballew Texaco Station, now Santos Muffler & Radiator, and threw his jacket underneath a 1954 Oldsmobile that was parked in an adjacent lot.
He then headed east on West Jefferson Boulevard and ducked in and out of the storefronts pictured below in an attempt to avoid police, although officers were not yet looking for him at that time.
Johnny Brewer, the manager of Hardy Shoe Store, now Liz Bridal & Quinceañera, noticed Oswald’s odd behavior and walked outside to observe him more closely.
Brewer followed Lee about 100 feet, at which point the assassin headed inside the Texas Theatre, where he slipped past ticket clerk Julie Postal without paying for admittance. Once Oswald was out of sight, Brewer told Postal to call the police.
Officers quickly arrived on the scene, entered the auditorium and, after a brief scuffle, arrested Oswald, less than ninety minutes after he fired the fatal shots that killed Kennedy.
Two days later, Oswald was set to be transferred from Dallas Police Headquarters, now the Dallas Municipal Building, to the county jail. At 11:21 a.m., while Lee was being escorted to a waiting car located in the basement of the headquarters building (in the area directly behind the metal door pictured below), a nightclub owner with underworld ties named Jack Ruby walked into the space unnoticed and shot him, supposedly to spare Jackie Kennedy the ordeal of going through a trial. (Yeah, sounds suspicious to me, too.) Following in Kennedy’s footsteps from almost exactly 48 hours prior, Oswald was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead at 1:07 p.m. On March 14th, 1964, Ruby was convicted of murder with malice and received the death sentence. That conviction was later overturned and, a little over three years after the Oswald killing, while he was awaiting a retrial, Jack Ruby passed away of a pulmonary embolism at – you guessed it – Parkland Memorial Hospital.
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Big THANK YOU to my dear friends/fellow stalkers Lavonna and Kim for providing the photographs and information that appear in this post and for sharing their experiences of being at Dealey Plaza.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Dealey Plaza is located in Dallas, Texas’ West End district. The Texas Book Depository, now the Dallas County Administration Building and The Sixth Floor Museum, is located at 411 Elm Street. Admission is $16 for adults. You can visit the museum’s official website here. Oswald’s former boarding house, where he went immediately after the assassination, is located at 1026 North Beckley Avenue in the Oak Cliff neighborhood. Officer Tippit was shot at 404 East 10th Street. Ballew Texaco Station, now Santos Muffler & Radiator, where Lee threw his jacket under a car, is located at 401 E. Jefferson Boulevard. Oswald hid in doorways on the 200 block of West Jefferson Boulevard. Hardy Shoe Store, now Liz Bridal & Quinceañera, where John Brewer noticed Oswald behaving strangely, is located at 213 West Jefferson. The Texas Theatre, where Oswald was apprehended, is located at 231 West Jefferson. Dallas Police Headquarters, now the Dallas Municipal Building, where Jack Ruby shot Lee is located at 106 South Harwood Street. The ramp leading down to the basement area, where Oswald was killed, is located just to the West of the building’s Commerce Street entrance. Big D Fun Tours is located at 100 South Houston Street. The JFK Trolley Tour costs $20 per adult. You can visit the company’s official website here.