Day Four – August 6, 2004
Upon seeing the magnificent view of Dallas from our hotel room, I genuinely would have been happy just sitting at the window all day watching over the city of Dallas. However, I knew this wasn’t really practical, since there were a few attractions I wanted to see while in Dallas, one of them being the Sixth Floor Museum.
The Sixth Floor Museum is located in the building that used to house the Texas School Book Depository, otherwise known as the place President John F. Kennedy was assassinated from.
The museum was a short walk through downtown from our hotel room. We could have driven, but then we would have been charged for parking. I’m actually glad I decided to walk, because I got to see Dealey Plaza up close. This is a small little area on the western side of downtown Dallas – adjacent to the Grassy Knoll made famous with the JFK assassination – that commemorates the first people who lived within the city of Dallas. Since it’s downtown, all of the major skyscrapers of Dallas can be seen here, as well as the very intricate Historical Court House building, which now serves as a visitor’s center operated by the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. Look for a picture of this historic building below.
The Sixth Floor Museum was one of two places on this trip where security was pretty tight. Everybody who comes into the museum has to go through metal detectors, and all bags have to pass through an x-ray machine. In addition, photography of any kind is strictly verboten, so, unfortunately, I can’t show you anything from this wonderful museum.
There are actually two levels to the Sixth Floor Museum: the sixth floor, the one Lee Harvey Oswald was on when Kennedy’s motorcade turned down Elm Street, and the seventh floor, which features rotating exhibits.
Naturally, we stopped at the sixth floor first. The exhibit area – which is quite large – is split into two different parts. The first part, beginning as soon as you arrive onto the sixth floor, contains exhibits including (but not limited to) life in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the hot issues of the 1960 election, Kennedy winning the Democratic nomination and election, Kennedy’s first two and a half years in office, Kennedy’s decision to tour Texas, some of the strong dislike for Kennedy within Texas, Kennedy’s touchdown in Dallas, The public’s response to Kennedy visiting Dallas and Fort Worth, and the shooting and mayhem that followed it. This first part culminates in visitors getting to the exact spot – the corner window – where Oswald stood to fire his gun. Up until this point, all of the other windows on the floor have been blacked out, so it is quite a sight to be able to see daylight and the city of Dallas at the exact spot where Kennedy was shot. The corner area where Oswald fired has also been recreated to look exactly as it did in 1963.
After viewing the window, visitors are taken to the second part of the museum. This part contains exhibits including (but not limited to) the airplane inauguration of Texan Lyndon Johnson, the capture and arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, an evaluation on the life of John F. Kennedy, Jack Ruby’s assassination of Oswald, The endless conspiracy theories that abounded after the assassination and continue to this day, an evaluation of the government’s reports concerning the Kennedy assassination, and an evaluation of the various conspiracy theories that have surfaced.
We then exited the permanent sixth floor exhibit and went up to the seventh floor. The exhibit currently on display there is called The Living Room Candidate. It is a study of the use of television commercials in presidential elections. I really, really enjoyed this exhibit – just as much as the one downstairs; in fact, I probably could have spent all day here. You really have to have an interest in politics and the media to enjoy yourself as much as I did, though.
Upon entering the seventh floor, you are greeted with a mural depicting all of the Democratic, Republican and prominent third party candidates for every election year from 1952 to 2004. The mural also includes the birth year and death year (if they have died) for every one of the candidates.
Just to clarify things, the election of 1952 was the first that really emphasized television commercials, so that is why everything in this exhibit begins with the year 1952.
Following the mural were 14 different stations, one for each election year from 1952 to 2004. At each station was a board that explained what the big issues for the particular election year were, who the two candidates were, the methods used by each candidate in their television campaign commercials, an expert’s evaluation of the candidates’ commercials, and how each candidate ended up doing in the popular and electoral vote of the election. Next to this board was a TV monitor that constantly played all of the campaign commercials for each particular election year. They didn’t just have some of the most famous commercials from the election year, either; they had all of them. I remember I sat at one of the stations for almost ten minutes and did not see any repeated commercials.
Clearly, I must have been the most interested person in this exhibit when I was up there, because most of the other people who came up to the seventh floor just looked around for a few minutes and left. At one point, for about 15 minutes, I was the only person – besides a couple of security officers – who was on the floor.
Once we came down from the seventh floor and made the obligatory stop at the gift shop, we walked back to our hotel room. It was about 3:30 PM, and even though there was more I wanted to see, rush hour was already starting (it was Friday, after all), and rush hour in Dallas is not something you want to ever experience.
So, instead of going out to do some more sightseeing, we stayed up in our hotel room for the rest of the day, literally spending hours upon hours gazing out our 19th story window at the city of Dallas. Some of the best pictures and video I captured in Dallas came on this day; many of them can be seen below.
The next day would be a little bit more eventful, but you’ll have to wait to find out exactly what I did and saw.
Looking Southeast at night from the hotel room
The Bank of America Building, the tallest in Dallas, is also surrounded by green neon lights at night
Another shot of the downtown skyscrapers
The Old Courthouse in Dallas
A Dealey Plaza pond
A marker commemorating the first house in Dallas
Looking across Elm Street at more Dealey Plaza memorials
Daytime picture of Downtown Dallas (sorry about the camera)
Looking southeast during the daytime
Closeup of Dallas Morning News Newspaper Building
Closeup of the WFAA-TV Tower
Looking northeast during daytime
The old Texas School Book Depositoty is the building in the center of the foreground
A signal bridge along the railroad tracks that were in front of our hotel
Closeup of the Sixth Floor Museum; the square, corner window on the 2nd floor from the top is the one Oswald stood at when JFK was shot
A Greyhound bus travels down a downtown street
Closeup of the downtown Hampton Inn
The Hotel Lawrence can be seen prominantely in the foreground of this picture
Picture of the DART - Dallas Light Rail Train
Another daytime picture looking northeast
A view from further back in the hotel room
We saw a lot of the planes coming into DFW Int'l Airport - here's a Southwest Airlines flight flying over the Bank of America Tower
A shot of downtown with a Union Pacific freight train and a DART train on the railroad tracks in front of our hotel
An airplane with a banner attached flew by later in the afternoon; the banner was an ad for Toyota of Plano
The Bank of America Tower reflecting the colors of the sunset
Looking southeast again at night
The rushhour traffic on 35E could be seen reflected off of the windows on our hotel
Closeup of one of the two giant downtown billboards for Royal Carribean Cruises
Closeup of the WFAA-TV tower at night
Close of The Dallas Morning News sign at night
Note: to see full-sized versions of any of the photos above, select the download feature above the picture. The photo will then be downloaded to your computer, and you can view the full resolution version of the picture (800 pixels in width).
Downtown Dallas at Night
Downtown Dallas During the Daytime
Dealey Plaza Activity
A DART Light Rail Train Arrives at Union Station
People Waiting for their Train at Union Station
The Window From Which JFK was Shot From
More People Waiting for their Train at Union Station
Friday Night Downtown Traffic
Note: All the videos were shot looking out the window from our hotel room.