Dealey Plaza - History and Facts | History Hit

Dealey Plaza

Dallas, Texas, United States

Dealey Plaza in Texas was the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas was the site where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated at 12:30pm (CST) on 22 November 1963. Kennedy was the thirty-fifth President of the United States of America and served during the Cold War, his premiership encompassing events such as the Invasion of the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the building of the Berlin Wall.

History of Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza is sometimes nicknamed the ‘birthplace of Dallas’ – it was donated to the new town by philanthropist and businesswoman Sarah Horton Cockrell. The nickname stems from the fact that the plaza was where the first home, courthouse, post office, store and fraternal lodge were all built. The plaza was completed in 1940: a triple underpass converges here on the western edge of Dallas.

The name Dealey Plaza commemorates George Bannerman Dealey, one of the early publishers of The Dallas Morning News and a key voice in campaigning for improvements in this part of Dallas.

However, the plaza is most well known for being the site where John F. Kennedy was shot. At the time of his assassination, Kennedy was being driven through Dealey Plaza in an open-top car with his wife Jacqueline in the presidential motorcade. He was shot and later declared dead in the emergency room of Parkland Hospital.

The circumstances of the assassination of President Kennedy remain a source of contention. Official investigations at the time found that his killer had been Lee Harvey Oswald, who is said to have hidden on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, from where he fired the deadly shots. However, some witnesses also heard shots coming from the so-called ‘grassy knoll’ alongside, a hillock that rises from Elm St to the railroad yards.

The conclusion of the 1970s’ House Select Committee on Assassinations, that a sniper did indeed fire (and miss) from behind the picket fence here, bolstered the belief that Kennedy’s assassination was part of a conspiracy. Oswald always denied the crime. However, he was never tried as he himself was fatally shot two days later. Conspiracy theories continue to circulate about Kennedy’s assassination.

Dealey Plaza today

Dealey Plaza has changed little from the day of Kennedy’s assassination. There are several nearby monuments, such as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. There is also a small museum, known as the Sixth Floor Museum, in the adjacent Texas School Book Depository where Oswald is alleged to have hidden. This chronicles the life of John F Kennedy. The museum also offers audio guides to Dealey Plaza and nearby sites, which is included in the entry fee.

Getting to Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza is in downtown Dallas, where Elm Street and Commerce Street merge with the freeway. There’s plenty of parking in the surrounding area, but as with all major cities, expect there to be traffic.

Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station is less than a 5 minute walk away, with connections throughout the city and beyond – including to Fort Worth. Bus routes 19, 21, 60, 161 and 283 stop on Commerce Street, 2 minutes away.

Featured In

US Cold War Sites

Discover the dark history of the Cold War at these 5 sites, monuments and museums in America, from former nuclear missile silos to the Atomic Testing Museum.

US Historic Sites

Discover some of the best historic sites in the United States, from iconic sites like the White House, Statue of Liberty, and Mount Rushmore, to the more hidden historical gems like Historic Jamestowne, Taos Pueblo, and the Freedom Trail in Boston.