Being of a certain age, our main interest in Dallas was, of course, the place of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963, at Dealey Plaza. The two spots where JFK's car was in the presidential motorcade are marked on Elm Street with modest painted crosses. Rather irreverently, tourists dodge waves of traffic to have their photos taken standing on the crosses. Memorials to JFK now surround the plaza, and the 6th Floor of the adjacent Texas School Book Depository building has been converted to an excellent and very moving museum. This is the location from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy.
View across Elm St to the Texas School Depository Building. President Kennedy was shot from the right hand window in the second top floor.
We were a little surprised to see that the Depository Building museum is not a national monument. Instead, the museum is run by the Dallas County Historical Foundation as a charitable organisation. It is a very commercial enterprise, and deals with a lot of visitors. We queued for about an hour to get in. No photographs are permitted. There is a gift shop selling all manner of imitation Kennedy memorabilia, even copies of Jackie's jewellry! The museum chronicles JFK's entire life, and judging from the young age of most of the visitors, this is where they learn about the President. The actual corner where Oswald hid and fired his rifle is glassed off with storage boxes piled up as they were in 1963, and from adjacent windows you can see exactly his vantage point. Monitors at these windows recreate the motorcade. It's really well done!
We've lived though all the conspiracy theories associated with Kennedy's assassination, but this visit posed some new questions for us. Having studied Oswald's vanatge point, we wondered why he didn't shoot Kennedy when he had an excellent forward view of him as the car turned into N Houston St. Kennedy's car was further away and moving away where Oswald shot him in Elm Street.
Apart from the tourists milling around Dealey Plaza, downtown Dallas is as quiet as a morgue on weekends. No one lives here. The city has not discovered how residents bring life and safety to a CBD. The city is full of grand buildings and nice boulevards, but we didn't see any apartment blocks (and certainly no houses) within miles of the centre. There are almost no shops. In the entire city, on Sunday afternoon, we could only find one open cafe, notably called Weekend Coffee. The small historical district provides relief with several restaurants and bars, which we patronised.
Our Qantas flight left Dallas at 10pm in the dark, and arrived in Brisbane before the sun came up, the entire 17 hour flight being in darkness. Somehow, we must have picked the wrong day for a direct flight to Sydney. The stopover in Brisbane is annoying after such a long flight - we had to take all hand-luggage off, together with passports and boarding passes, for a security check in Brisbane. Even though MH370 had just disappeared, and Asian passengers travelling on European passports were suspected, no-one at Brisbane airport bothered to compare our passport photos with our faces, but they were very concerned about any lipstick we were carrying. Good to see Brisbane airport security is focused on the important matters!