DALLAS — Looking out the sixth floor window of the former Texas School Book Depository in the heart of Dallas is a surreal experience.
About 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 22, 1963, three shots rang out. A president was assassinated, and the course of history forever altered.
According to the Warren Commission, Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, killing President John F. Kennedy. The event remains as intriguing today as it did in 1963, and thousands of people visit historic Dealey Plaza ever year, hoping to connect with an event that remains seared in the nation’s collective mind.
Down below, the plaza looks much as it did on that fateful day — from the grassy knoll to the triple overpass to an open window on the sixth floor. A National Historic Landmark District since 1993, Dealey Plaza looks as if it’s frozen in time.
“It’s the real spot, unadulterated. It’s exactly as it was — almost — in 1963,” Nicola Longford, executive director of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, said in 2013. “I think a lot of people appreciate that.”
Today, tourists, amateur historians and conspiracy theorists come to Dealey Plaza in droves. Some pose for a picture on the infamous grassy knoll while others dodge traffic to stand in the exact location where a bullet fatally struck Kennedy, marked by an ‘X’ painted on the asphalt.
But, anyone looking to understand that day within the context of Dallas in 1963 must visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Originally opened in 1989, the museum, tells not only the story of Kennedy’s assassination and the aftermath of his death, but puts into context Kennedy’s visit to Dallas, which was in essence the first stop of his 1964 re-election campaign.
The most powerful scene in the museum is arguably the reconstructed sniper’s perch. According to the Warren Commission, Oswald organized boxes containing schoolbooks into the perch; the museum based its reconstruction on photographs taken on Nov. 22, 1963.