November 22, 1963 – an infamous day in American history. Different generations of people can recall where they were when they heard the shocking news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.
In the aftermath, Lee Harvey Oswald is trotted out to the press and presented as the “Lone Gunman”. Immediately, Americans are divisive on the issue, and before they can get any answers, Oswald is shot dead by a mysterious man named Jack Ruby.
Since then rumors and conspiracy theories have abounded about President Kennedy’s assassination – Did Oswald act alone? Who was behind the grassy knoll? Was it a coup d’etat orchestrated by Vice President Lyndon Johnson? Was the mob or the CIA somehow involved? Americans have always wanted to know what really happened, and so did Lotus Comics, so we visited The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Dealey Plaza is smaller than you might expect – about the size of a football field. It is roughly triangular in shape, with the longest edge running east-west. Along the northern edge is the ‘grassy knoll’ where Abraham Zapruder was filming the president’s motorcade on his 8mm camera. That footage, some of the most scrutinized in history, captured President Kennedy’s final moments – in gruesome detail.
In the northeast corner of Dealey Plaza sits the Dallas County Administration building, formerly known as the Texas School Book Depository. A casual glance at the 6th floor of the structure shows the corner window – Oswald’s sniper perch – is raised. Once inside the museum, you can meander along with an audio-guided tour of the exhibits, starting with a trip to the early 60’s and the state of the nation at the time. From there, you can examine how President Kennedy’s fatal route was originally planned, and soon you come to the infamous corner window. It has been recreated to appear as it was on that dark day in American history, with stacks of boxes of schoolbooks obscuring the assassin from any onlookers. Leading away from the window, you see exhibits of the world’s reaction to the events, along with an investigations section where a 10 x 10 FBI scale model of Dealey Plaza can be found. Further on, there is an exhibit that shows where the assassin’s rifle was found, and the staircase that Oswald used to flee from the scene.
Upstairs on the 7th floor, the museum displays temporary exhibits. They also offer a further 4500 square feet of facilities for special events. This opportunity would make for a rather unique corporate or educational experience, where guests could dine and explore in detail the many conspiracies regarding President Kennedy’s fateful day.
Coming away from the Sixth Floor Museum, we looked back at Dealey Plaza differently. We saw the grassy knoll, the gentle curve of Elm Street, the large trees in front of the building – and again, the slightly raised window on the 6th floor. It’s just a small opening, but through it, we caught a much larger glimpse of American history.