A Guide to the History of Dallas, Texas

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Dealey Plaza
A National Historic Landmark (Designated 1993)

Dealey PlazaDealey Plaza, a landscaped, triangular expanse of land intersected by the city's three principal arteries - Commerce, Main, and Elm, is undoubtedly the most historic site in Dallas. It was here in 1841, on a bluff overlooking the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, that city founder John Neely Bryan first established a trading post and it was also here, on November 22, 1963, that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade through the city's streets.

The area, as it appears today, did not exist until 1932, when the Elm Fork of the Trinity River was moved behind two massive levees (to protect against flooding). At that time, the bluff was leveled and the so-called "Triple Underpass" was built, a railroad bridge beneath which Commerce Street, Main Street, and Elm Street pass.

Overlooking the plaza, on its east side (which is formed by Houston Street), is the "Old Red" county courthouse, which is presently being restored for its future role as a museum of Dallas County history. On the south side is the old Post Office Building and on the north stands the infamous "Texas School Book Depository," the structure from which alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is said to have fired the shots that killed President Kennedy. The building now houses county offices and the Sixth Floor Museum, which is dedicated to telling the story of Kennedy's presidency and assassination. The so-called "grassy knoll" is also located on the north side of the plaza.

Dealey Plaza is named in honor of longtime Dallas Morning News editor George Bannerman Dealey, whose bronze likeness faces Houston Street and the old county courthouse. Dealey, an Englishman, came to Texas in 1874. He began his newspaper career working for the Galveston News. In 1885 he was sent to North Texas by Colonel A. H. Belo to open a branch office. Under Dealey's watchful eye, The Dallas Morning News (which is today the only major newspaper in Dallas) began publication on October 1, 1885. By the time of his death in 1946, both the venerable editor, who had become a respected community leader, and The News were local institutions.

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