JFK’s Last Trip to Fort Worth and Dallas

The murder of President Kennedy in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963 is possibly one of the most well-known news stories from the 20th century. Since then, most theories put forward by both the official prosecutors and wannabe investigators after the crime never appeared completely acceptable.

The main defendant, Lee Harvey Oswald, was shot dead by likely-mafia-affiliated Jack Ruby, two days after Kennedy had been shot. This happened before any court hearing of Oswald, who always protested his complete innocence.

But Oswald was spotted on the crime scene, and his life before that fatal day had not been normal in any respect. Grown up a very poor man from the New Orleans, he enlisted in the USMC, spent years in Japan, changed home at a high pace in the continental US, between New York and Louisiana, learned Russian, applied for Soviet citizenship, established himself in an fantastic flat in Minsk, Belarus (see this account about Minsk), at the height of the Cold War, married a lady from the USSR, moved back to the US with his wife and their baby, collaborated with  communist movements in America while living of nothing in the south of the Nation, appeared in Cuba and Mexico in the years of the Kennedy administration, and finally decided it was time to kill President Kennedy, accused by a part of the military and political establishment of being excessively left-leaning during his years at the White House.

Maybe this man materially acted alone on the day of the shooting – something strongly adversed by many eyewitnesses and even scientists and analysts, based on ballistics – but with a curriculum so pointed of oddities, especially for the geopolitical situation of the 1950s and early 1960s, it is hard to imagine he was not part of something bigger.

An excessive number of pretended coincidences in the reconstruction by the investigators have largely discredited the official theories, in turn creating a mystery around the actual crime.

As time is passing and people involved are disappearing, chance to find the truth about the intricate plot behind the assassination are waning. Yet this unsolved crime has fueled decades of controversy, with tens if not hundreds of books written, as well as TV series and blockbuster movies produced – and it is still an intriguing topic for many, who come to see the famous Dealey Plaza in Dallas, where the shooting took place, making the local museum in the Texas School Book Repository one of Texas’ five all-time most visited attractions.

Being in the exact place where the famous Zapruder movie was recorded produces of course a strong impression. Yet there are more places in Dallas and Fort Worth related to the famous last visit of JFK to this major industrial focus of the nation, which albeit less impressive than the actual crime scene, may be interesting to find and visit for the most committed visitors.

This post portrays some of the most famous and of the least known places connected with Kennedy fateful 1963 trip to Texas. Photographs were taken in summer 2018.


This map reports the focal points of President Kennedy’s visit to Texas on November 21st-22nd, 1963.

Kennedy flew in and out Fort Worth from Carswell AFB (now NAS Fort Worth reserve base), arriving on November 21st, and departing in the morning of November 22nd to Dallas Love Field – a very short hop for Air Force One.

You can see places in Fort Worth and Dallas connected with both the actual and scheduled route of Kennedy’s visit (blue placeholders), plus the route of the motorcade from Love Field to Dealey Plaza and back (blue line), with a stop at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where JFK was pronounced dead at 1:00 pm, November 22nd.

Orange placeholders are locations connected with the shooting – where JFK was (surely) hit, famous spots on the crime scene, etc.

The movements of L.H. Oswald have been partly reconstructed by the prosecutors, where some have been ascertained based on sightings by witnesses. These are shown in yellow and red respectively on the map. Red placeholders show the location of Oswald sightings or places connected with his story.

Green placeholders show the positions of notable monuments connected with the assassination of President Kennedy.

Navigate this post – click on links to scroll


Sights are listed going along the time-line of the days of JFK’s visit.

Hotel Texas (now Hilton) & JFK Tribute, Fort Worth

President Kennedy spent the night between November 21st and 22nd in the Texas Hotel, located on Main Street in central Fort Worth. Today this nice, early 1920s building is still there, listed among historic landmarks. It has changed hands more times in the last decades, and is now run by Hilton, with the name Hilton Fort Worth. Built on the opposite side of the square where the convention center is located, it is still today a primary business hotel in town.

In the square ahead of the hotel is a monument dedicated to JFK, with a statue and citations. This was the location of the last public speech the President gave, before breakfast on November 22nd.

Later on that day, he held a scheduled speech in a hall of Hotel Texas, before going to Carswell AFB (now NAS Fort Worth), west of downtown, to board Air Force One to Dallas Love Field. Air Force Two soon followed.

Dealey Plaza, Dallas

Monuments in Dealey Plaza

The curious composition of white colonnades and pergola-shaped monuments in Dealey Plaza is the result of an architectural master plan for the area, completed in 1940.

Despite the weird aura that will enshroud the square for many years to come, the composition is actually very nice, with two opposing fountains ahead of the colonnades welcoming you when entering the square from Main Street. This is exactly what the motorcade did, turning right on Houston Street and first left on Elm street, where JFK was hit (see map).

The pergola on the ‘grassy knoll’

The northernmost part of the composition in Dealey Plaza is a curved white pergola, placed on top of a knoll, at an elevation of roughly 10 ft above the road. This is a vantage point for watching Elm street, which starts descending gently from Houston Street towards the railway triple underpass. It was here that Zapruder was standing, together with many eyewitnesses, shooting his now super-famous video (see map).

You can get a 360° view from close where Zapruder was standing from this video.

Here you see an example photo sequence of a car passing by along Elm Street, following the same route of the presidential motorcade.

A crowd was standing also on the southern side of Elm Street, at the level of the road, from where the pergola and the wooden fence on top of the grassy knoll can be seen very clearly. Looking uphill towards Houston Street, you can see the Texas School Book Repository, and the half-open window from were somebody fired at the motorcade.

‘X-marks’ on Elm Street

Two white X-marks have been painted on the ground where, based on official investigation and findings, President Kennedy was hit, while his motorcade was driving along Elm Street.

The first is located immediately after the crossing with Houston Street, where the motorcade turned left. The pictures below shows the window on the sixth floor of the book repository from the spot of the hit (actually behind a tree), and the wooden fence under the trees on top of the grassy knoll. The wooden fence has been indicated by many as the position of a second shooter, and some have sustained they saw shots coming from there.

Taking into account the elevation from the ground of the window on the sixth floor of the book repository, the total distance to this first X-mark is similar to that from the fence. Yet the trajectory of a shot from the fence would have come dangerously close to Zapruder and all folks between the knoll and the sidewalk.

The second X-mark, that of the fatal shot to the President’s head, is located further west. Looking from here again to the window on the sixth floor and to the fence, it is apparent that the latter spot would be a far easier point for shooting – very close -, while on the other hand recording a hit from the former would be a real challenge.

Close by the X-mark corresponding to the fatal shot, the National Historic Landmark placard of Dealey Plaza has been placed on the sidewalk.

You can get a clear impression of how fast everything must have happened watching this video of my car running along the route of the motorcade, from Main Street down to under the triple underpass.

The wooden fence on top of the ‘grassy knoll’

The fence on top of the grassy knoll divides the grass on the northern end of Dealey Plaza from a parking area on the side of the book repository. The elevation over Elm Street and the little distance from it, makes this place a good spot for targeting a car passing on the position of the second X-mark – that corresponding to the fatal shot.

To the back of the fence, the old railway switching tower from the 1910s played a part in the mystery. On the morning of the assassination, Lee Bowers was on service in the tower. He reported to the prosecutors that about 15 minutes before the shooting he had noticed a car slowly circling in the parking. At the time of the shooting two figures were standing by the fence, and he saw fire and smoke coming from their position. He provided details about the cars and an these men.

Lee Bowers died in a car crash without witnesses in summer 1966, when he gently launched his car out of the road while driving alone in the countryside somewhere near Midlothian, south of Dallas.

The triple underpass

This Art Deco railway bridge, dating from older times than the monuments in Dealey Plaza, is another good vantage point for a comprehensive sight of the stage of the assassination.

It has been supported that a witness standing on the grass south of Elm Street and close to the underpass was wounded by a fragment of the curb, produced by a bullet hit. This might have been a missed shot.

Texas School Book Repository & Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas

The building of the book repository, located on the northern side of the crossing between Houston and Elm, has been taken over by the city government for administrative functions. A museum has been opened on the sixth floor, from where shots were allegedly fired against the motorcade.

The museum is very modern. After paying by the entrance, you are given an audio-guide and you are directed to an elevator going up to the sixth floor.

You can walk along a nice exhibition mostly based on tons of photographs and reproductions of original documents, papers, agencies, documents, dossiers, and so on. Before showing the chronicle of events during the last trip of JFK and the events of the assassination, you are told about the general political and social situation in the years of Kennedy administration, so as to reconstruct the big picture and the meaning of this trip. There was much criticism about it, and you can see some unwelcoming headlines from newspapers, telling about a tense political situation in Texas. There are several videos playing loop.

Of course, an accurate reconstruction of the shooting is the main topic of the exhibition. Frames from the many videos recorded by the witnesses allow to have an almost second-by-second account of the last minute in the life of JFK.

Far less known than others are some pictures of the motorcade taken seconds after the shooting, when the cars accelerated under the triple underpass, with men of the secret service bent over the wounded President. Witnesses on the opposite side of the underpass had not noticed the shooting, and they were probably stunned watching the motorcade rushing away.

There is a dinner set from the scheduled luncheon Kennedy was heading to, prepared in the Dallas Trade Mart. A picture of the announcement of the assassination to the attendees of the luncheon waiting for the President is particularly striking. Detailed maps are displayed of the motorcade route, of the movements of L.H. Oswald, and of the emergency rooms of the Parkland Memorial Hospital where JFK, Vice President Johnson and Governor Connelly were given medical assistance.

A highlight of the museum is the area around the corner window from where shots were fired. An accurate reconstruction of the exact position of the boxes around the shooter’s position has been set up, based on photographs from the time.

Access to the window is interdicted, but you can get an idea of the view enjoyed from there from the third window from the corner.

Further items of interest include cameras and video recorders used by the witnesses, and a detailed map of the standpoints of most witnesses who made a video recording, or did take pictures.

An area of the exhibition is dedicated to Oswald, his arrest and his murder in the Police headquarters, which took place on November 24th, 2 days after JFK was killed. You can see copies of official documents, a ring belonging to L.H.Oswald, and the suit worn by Detective Jim Leavelle – the man portrayed in the video of the assassination of L.H. Oswald by Jack Ruby, leading Oswald out. At the time of writing, Texas-borne Jim Leavelle, borne 1920, is one of the few living primary witnesses of that dramatic episode.

Finally, the place where the old rifle used to fire at the motorcade from the window was found soon after the shooting, with Oswald fingerprints, has been reconstructed with the same accuracy of the firing position.

Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas

After the shooting, the motorcade accelerated keeping on the scheduled route (see map). It is noteworthy that the Trade Mart, where JFK should have had lunch, is not far from the Parkland Memorial Hospital, which is between the Trade Mart building and Love Field (see map).

President Kennedy and Governor Connelly were quickly drawn into emergency rooms, whereas soon-to-be-president Lyndon B. Johnson received medical attention in another area.

Officer Tippit’s Murder Scene, Dallas

Soon after he was spotted in the Texas School Book Repository minutes after the shooting, L.H. Oswald left for home. Initially caught in the traffic after taking a bus, he moved around pointlessly not far from Dealey Plaza, finally taking a cab to go home. He got off some blocks past his house, where he returned by foot (see map). He soon left, and at about 1:15 pm, 45 minutes after the assassination of JFK, he reportedly killed police officer Tippit in a quiet residential area. The place is marked by a placard (see map).

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested less than an hour later, on account of Tippit’s murder. Only hours after his arrest, during the night of November 22nd, he was accused of the assassination of President Kennedy.

Texas Theater, Dallas

After shooting officer Tippit, Oswald left along Jefferson Boulevard, presumably walking to the Texas Theater. This movie theater, with a flamboyant front facade, used to be owned by Howard Hughes, and it was the first in Texas with air conditioning.

L.H. Oswald was arrested at about 1:50 pm, about ten minutes after he had entered the theater, 1 hour and 20 minutes after the murder of JFK.

JFK Memorial Plaza, Dallas

A monument to President Kennedy, designed by Philip Johnson, was erected in 1970 one block east of Dealey Plaza (see map). The monument, made of concrete, resembles an empty tomb.

Getting There and Moving Around

The JFK monument in Fort Worth is in a public park, as well as the JFK memorial in Dallas. They can be neared at all times.

Dealey Plaza is regularly open to car traffic, as you can see from the videos above. Parking is possible in the many public parkings around the area. Once there, you can move around freely at all times.

I drove along all the route of Kennedy’s motorcade, which except for a few closed roads can be done still today. Very nice indeed, as you will cross beautiful downtown Dallas. Of course, you can follow the route of Kennedy’s car in Dealey Plaza, as shown in the videos above.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a world-class, up-to-date museum, and one of the most visited attractions in Texas. Website here.

Stalin’s Skyscrapers

A distinctive feature of Moscow and some other European capital cities, Stalin’s skyscrapers were designed in the Forties and built from the early Fifties to the early Sixties. For this reason they stand as an symbol of the early Cold War period, when the Soviet Union and the Western Powers were starting to openly competing on almost everything, from the blast intensity of thermonuclear devices to the new frontier of flight – space.

Stalin died in 1953, so he couldn’t see in person the completion of the buildings bearing his name, but it is reported that he was involved personally in the master plan – approved before 1947 -, choice of architects and design of the towers in Moscow, which were to symbolize the might of the Soviet Union, a key player and a winning power of WWII, and to showcase a tangible realization of the Socialist social model. This was also to create a counterpart to the American skyscrapers, a prominent feature of many cities of the US since the mid Twenties.

Today all Stalin’s skyscrapers are still in place, and especially in the very fashionable and modern Moscow, they remain among the most evocative remains of the Communist era. Besides the gothic-renaissance style they are built in, with imposing volumes and tall pinnacles and spines, resulting in a “Gotham City” appearance in contrast with today’s mostly widespread minimal style, these buildings are covered with symbols and sculptures totally bound to the old ‘Communist code’ – tens of hammers, sickles, waving flags and stars, plus portraits of farmers, workers, socialist virtues and happy families – a true relic of a bygone era.

Visiting is generally limited to coming close and walking around, for these buildings are all still used today for various functions, including housing and governmental.

This little report is unfortunately not complete, as I will present only photographs I’ve taken myself of those buildings I had the chance to come close to in Moscow (but not all that you can see there), Warsaw and Riga. Yet I hope to give an impression of what these buildings look like, and… to be able to complete the report with the missing ones in the future!

Navigate this post – Click on link to scroll

Moscow, Russia

Moscow State University (Lemonsovo University)

This building is the largest of Stalin’s skyscrapers, and the tallest educational building in the world – taking pictures of the facade is a real challenge even with a wide lens! The perception of the volume of the building is reduced – to some extent… – due to the isolated position on top of a hill dominating central Moscow from the west.

The campus of the University can be accessed freely (there are gates and fences, but I guess they are normally open at least in daylight), and I suggest going for a walk from the metro stop ‘Vorobyovy gory’ (line 1) to the top of the hill, where you will get a breathtaking panorama of downtown Moscow, as well as a perspective view of the university building. You may then walk closer to the building and eventually move around it, reaching the metro stop ‘Universitet’ (line 1) for your train back to Moscow. The area is huge, so consider more than 1 hour for a complete relaxed tour of the area, even if you are just taking pictures of the outside.

The decoration of the building is probably the most elaborate of all Stalin’s skyscrapers, and include huge communist coats of arms, metal banners with engravings, a Lenin memorial sculpture, a big clock, various allegorical sculptures, and a gigantic USSR emblem with a star on top of the 787 ft tall central spine.

The panoramic view you get from the easternmost part of the perspective allows you to spot from the distance all other Stalin’s skyscrapers in town, including Hotel Ukraine (today Radisson Royal), which is partly covered by the modern skyscrapers of ‘New Moscow’.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Located on the western end of the very popular Arbat boulevard next to the ‘Smolenskaya’ interchange station on metro lines 3, 4 and 5, this imposing building is still today occupied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

The decoration is sober, and the tiles covering the exterior are made from a dark brownish material, giving a solemn, serious and possibly grim appearance to the complex. Slabs with hammer and sickle engravings can be found on the western gate on Smolensky Blvd.

Kudrinskaya Square Building

This imposing apartment building, built for high-ranking members of the Soviet cultural panorama, can be reached from ‘Barricadnaya’ on metro line 7 or equivalently from ‘Krasnoprechenskaya’ on the circle line 5. It is very close to the American embassy, and not excessively far from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The neighborhood is composed mainly of smaller residential buildings, but nonetheless this skyscraper is proportionately designed, rather ‘mimetic’ and not excessively imposing. The typical pale tiles covering most of the façade and the lack of bombastic decoration add to the nice overall perception you may get of this skyscraper.

Kotelnicheskaya Enbankment Building

This is probably the most prominent and impressive of Stalin’s skyscrapers, due to the incredible location on the Moskva river. It can be admired from the distance from the southeastern corner of the Kremlin, and especially from the bridge immediately south of the Red Square and St. Basil. The very light color of the façade gives this large building an airy appearance. A huge spine with a star and a hammer and sickle emblem complete the profile.

It is still today an apartment building. Needless to say, from the building you will get an almost unobstructed view of the Kremlin. It can be reached with a walk from the Kremlin or a more quiet walk from the interchange station ‘Taganskaya’ on line 5, 7 and 8, ideal if you are also visiting Bunker-42.

Walking closer to the building will give you a mixed feeling of grandeur and poor quality at the same time, due to size of the skyscraper on one hand, and to the many small commercial activities on the ground floor, and a certain disorder around the main entrance on the other – due to an overcrowded small parking, and a small, unnecessary fenced park.

Leningradskaya Hotel & Red Gates Administrative Building

I only had the chance for a quick pass by these buildings. The Leningradskaya Hotel (today Hilton) is the most modestly sized of Stalin’s Skyscrapers in Moscow, and is located on the western side of the highly trafficked Komsomolskaya Square, with three railway stations offering connections to everywhere in Russia and to international destinations as well, and a terminal for the world-famous Transsiberian line. The corresponding metro station is ‘Komsomolskaya’ on line 1 and 5.

From the square you can see the tower of the Red Gates Administrative Building, which can be reached with a quick walk from there or with the metro line 1 (‘Krasnye Vorota’ stop). Together with Leningradskaya Hotel, these are probably the least imposing of all Stalin’s skyscrapers, even though some mastery was reportedly necessary in the construction process of this building, due to a complicated reaction of the soil to its weight.

Riga, Latvia

Latvian Academy of Sciences

The latest of Stalin’s skyscrapers to reach completion – opened in 1961 – this distinctive building can be spotted from quite afar in the skyline of Riga, the capital city of the Latvian Republic. In the era of the USSR, this was not a ‘satellite state’, instead it was annexed to be one of the Socialist Soviet Republics, together with its neighbors Estonia and Lithuania. The building can be spotted to the south of the historical district and can be reached with a short walk from there.

This building retains only the style of Moscow’s Stalinist skyscrapers. The construction method is here based on reinforced concrete, where all buildings in Moscow are based on steel frames and masonry. The covering tiles are rather dark, giving a grim appearance to this otherwise well proportioned tower. The building can be accessed and you can reach the top to enjoy the panorama to a small fee.

Warsaw, Poland

Palace of Culture and Science

This service building is on Marsalkowska, next to the metro station ‘Swietokrzyska’, about .6 miles from the totally central University of Warsaw on Krakowskie boulevard.

The building is somehow isolated from the surroundings, being in the center of a large square. It is very imposing and comparable in size to those in Moscow – it is still today one of the tallest buildings in Poland, and can be easily spotted from several places around Warsaw.

You can climb to the top for a fee.