As part of what is becoming a massive international story – the 50th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy – here is The Big Mac Blog's free tour of the best, and unusual, sites of the President’s last stops before he died. And a few other places.
CARSWELL AIR FORCE BASE
Then: This is the naval air station where Air Force One landed on Nov. 21, 1963. JFK briefly met with supporters before going to downtown Fort Worth.
Today: Recently, people at the base examined old footage of his time at the base and tried to determine where exactly he was, and if any of the buildings are still there. No dice.
There are no plaques or markers that say he was here or there. It is a working naval air station. Nothing to see here.
Then: The hotel where JFK and Jackie stayed together for the final time. Their room was a corner suite on the eighth floor.
Today: The hotel is now a Hilton, has long since been remodeled, and the particular room where JFK and Jackie stayed no longer exists. Click here for the hotel information.
In the entry way between the valet stand and the lobby there is this plaque to commemorate his visit. If you’re in the neighborhood, take a peak.
815 Main Street, FW, TX 76102
JFK MEMORIAL, FORT WORTH
Then: It was a part of Worth Square in downtown Fort Worth, directly across the street from the “Hotel Texas”. On a drizzly morning, JFK met a few thousand supporters, one of which included then Fort Worth resident and now Hollywood big shot Bill Paxton. Jackie didn’t make the appearance.
Today: Across the street from where he met the supporters is this relatively new 8-foot sculpture of JFK, which was unveiled in November of 2012. This memorial includes photographs, and a few memorable quotes engraved in the stone.
Certainly worth a visit.
815 Main Street, FW, TX 76102
On to Dallas ..
Then: It was known as 19-mile airport. It is hard to believe, but JFK actually flew from Fort Worth to Dallas for his scheduled visit. His flight lasted 13 minutes.
He was there briefly before entering the motorcade that was scheduled to take him through downtown Dallas, and through Dealey Plaza.
Today: It is has become a large, national airport that is the hub for Southwest Airlines.
After he was pronounced dead, he was taken here and put aboard Air Force 1 where vice president Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in.
The air museum, Frontiers of Flight, located by Love Field, normally does not feature anything to commemorate his visit.
Beginning later this month and running through the end of November, the museum will feature a replica portion of the Air Force 1 fuselage that JFK used. He was the first U.S. President to fly in Air Force 1 that was a jet. This photo is a sample of the mockup of the Air Force 1 that will be on display. Click here for the museum's site.
A company out of Nebraska contacted Love Field about producing this, which will include a replica of the bedroom on the plane as well as the stateroom where LBJ was sworn in.
6911 Lemmon Ave. Dallas, TX 75209
Then: Before JFK’s trip, this park in the western edge of downtown Dallas was named in honor of former Dallas Morning News publisher George Bannerman Dealey. Three main roads – Main Street, Elm Street and Commerce – converge here.
Today: This is solely known as the place where Kennedy was killed.
Between the “Grassy Knoll”, the actual “X” on the Elm Street to mark where the bullets hit the president and the many historical information signs flanking this street this area is easily the most visited tourist spot in North Texas. Included is the spot marking where Zapruder shot his famous home movie.
Elm Street, Dallas, TX 75202
SIXTH FLOOR MUSEUM
Then: This was the Texas School Book Depository, which housed schools books to be distributed in Texas and Oklahoma. It is where Lee Harvey Oswald went to the Sixth Floor to get a clean view of the President’s motorcade.
Today: In 1970, this building no longer was the Texas School Book Depository. In 1989, the museum opened. It is the best one-stop shopping area to learn not only of JFK’s assassination, but to see where Oswald took his shots. It is a complete walk through the timeline of events that led to Oswald’s capture, his death, and the aftermath of this global event as well as the conspiracy plots and the decision that Oswald acted alone.
It’s a wonderful museum.
Yes, there is a gift shop.
411 Elm Street, Dallas, TX 75202
Then: The hospital where Kennedy was rushed to save his life, and was pronounced dead.
Today: It is certainly not on any tour, ever. This is a working hospital, but there are two points of interest that can be viewed, provided you are a patient, or have special permission. Note – I did not contract the flu in order to see these two spots.
The first is the actual trauma room where Kennedy was taken, examined, and pronounced dead at Trauma Room 1. It is now a waiting room, but this plaque marks where he died.
Around the corner and down the hall from Trauma Room 1 are these two plaques dedicated to JFK.
5201 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75235
Then: This movie house created a splash by having air conditioning. At 1:45 p.m. on November 22, 1963, about 15 members of the Dallas Police Department entered this famous theater in South Oak Cliff to find the guy who entered without paying – Lee Harvey Oswald.
Today: A refurbished movie theater in a reviving area of South Dallas. In 2003, this theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Any theater that is showing “Escape From New York” can’t be bad.
231 West Jefferson Blvd., Dallas, TX 75208
DALLAS MUNICIPAL BUILDING
Then: The site of the Dallas jail, and specifically the garage/basement where Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby murdered Oswald. You need special permission to see where Oswald was led out of the elevator, around a corner, and into a garage where Ruby had walked past a cop, whom he likely knew, down a ramp and shot Oswald at point-blank range.
It is eerie to view how easily he did this.
Today: It is currently under renovation, for forever, to become a part of the University of North Texas Law School.
106. South Harwood, Dallas, TX 75203
ROSE HILL CEMETERY
Then: In 1963, this was a modest cemetery in East Fort Worth where Lee Harvey Oswald was buried.
Today: Still a modest cemetery in East Fort Worth. The neighborhood around this cemetery has changed dramatically.
There is nothing at this cemetery that says he is here. The company says nothing about it. They won’t even say if there have been several media requests. The family told them to say zero, which the company honors.
Of note, a few months ago the conspiracy/story surrounding the headstone “Nick Beef” was answered when the New York Times ran this piece that answered the bizarre practical joke.
7301 East Lancaster Ave., 76112 FW, TX
JOHN F. KENNEDY MEMORIAL PLAZA
Around the corner from Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum is this memorial for the slain president. It was dedicated on June 24, 1970. It is essentially an open tomb.
646 Main Street, Dallas, TX 75202
And waaaaaay further afield ...
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
If you are going to complete this “tour”, and are in the Washington D.C. area, visit the nation’s most famous cemetery where JFK and his wife are buried.
JFK was laid to rest here after the nation’s most well known funeral. His wife, Jackie, eventually was put next to him.
Give yourself, ohhh, at least a full day to do all of these.
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