Back in January this year (2019) I travelled to Dallas, Texas to continue an architecture course that I’d started in late 2018.
This would be the second of three trips, the last trip was in early April (2019).
It’s stretch to really consider these trips are travelling, since much of the time in-country was spent in a classroom (7:30am-5pm each day) with only the evenings to do anything worthwhile. On the final day of the second trip, due to a stuff up with the training schedule, myself and a colleague ended up with a full free day in Dallas. While my colleague stayed at the hotel to catch up on some work, I decided to do some solo tourism. In Dallas, there was one particular location that held my interest above all: Dealey Plaza – the location of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Luckily for me, there was a train station right outside the hotel, so I didn’t have to battle the scary Dallas freeways by myself. The journey took about 40 minutes each way and owing to a late start that day, I only had 2 hours until I had to check out of the hotel. The trip in was reasonably uneventful , if slow. The train itself was quite fast, but simply had a lot of distance to cover (about 20 miles or 32 km). There’s nothing particularly remarkable or memorable about the Dallas suburbia, and the weather was an uninspiring overcast grey, with hints of potential rain.
The central business district offers an interesting blend of modern skyscrapers coupled with mid sized older buildings and some contemporary inner city urban areas.
Before long, I’d traversed the city and had to go on foot for a bit once I arrived at the closest station to Dealey Plaza, which is on the south-eastern outskirts of the CBD.
There it was – such a significant location in world history.
What exactly occurred in Dealey Plaza on that fateful day on November 22, 1963? The Presidential motorcade was proceeding through downtown Dallas, and then..
“From Houston Street, the presidential limousine made the planned left turn onto Elm, providing it access to the Stemmons Freeway exit. As the vehicle turned onto Elm, the motorcade passed by the Texas School Book Depository. Suddenly, shots were fired at President Kennedy as his motorcade continued down Elm Street. About 80% of the witnesses recalled hearing three shots.” Wikipedia.
I passed the notorious book depository on my way from the train/tram line and entered the plaza from the north-west. I first approached the grassy knoll and found where Abraham Zapruder filmed Kennedy’s assassination and then crossed to the large median strip to observe the location from the triple underpass.
The area known as the grassy knoll has been maintained at an almost surreal sanctity, virtually unchanged since the assassination – indeed the entire plaza is more or less unchanged except for some very minor changes. This is possibly the greatest tribute the US could give in keeping the plaza as intact and unblemished as possible. There are only a handful of placards dotting the area to explain the heinous event that had occurred there.
The grassy knoll
Road to the triple underpass/book depository
In the photo below, a location is marked on the road with an X which is presumably where Kennedy was when he was shot.
Being able to virtually travel back in time, in person, to the 1960s to the site of such a significant (and yet infamous) event in world history was an experience unlike any other.
It is unfortunate that I had very little time to further explore the area, or go into the sixth floor museum (where Oswald fired his shots),
With my time restriction, I had to hustle back to the train to ensure I returned to the hotel with enough time to avoid missing checkout. A feat I managed!
I‘ll write more about Dallas with the next entry.