Dealey Plaza: 3 Shots Rang Out

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NEWSPAPER HEADLINES

Newspapers around the country carried the news that Kennedy had been shot to the American people: "Kennedy Slain," wrote the Boston Globe. "Sniper Kills Kennedy," headlined the Albuquerque Journal. The Dallas Times Herald, which covered the assassination in its own city, included the shooting of Texas’ governor: "President Dead. Connally Shot." Those newspapers can now fetch hundreds of dollars at auction.

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Parade Route

Sixteen cars and a dozen motorcycles were part of the presidential motorcade through Dallas, accompany the Kennedys from Love Field, where Air Force One landed, to the Dallas Trade Mart, where the president was to address civic leaders. They scheduled 45 minutes for the 10-mile trip, but huge crowds of spectators slowed the motorcade, which crawled through Dealey Plaza at just 10 mph in the moments before Kennedy was shot.

GRASSY KNOLL

As shots rang out in Dealey Plaza, a reporter riding in the motorcade filed a dispatch saying police thought the gunfire came from the right rear of the president’s limo, “probably from a grassy knoll to which police rushed, according to a timeline of news coverage compiled by the Sixth Floor Museum, now housed in the Texas School Book Depository. It was the first time the phrase “grassy knoll” was used in connection to the shooting, according to the museum.

DEALEY PLAZA

Dealey Plaza is the civic center of Dallas and was known as the “front door” to the city prior to Kennedy’s arrival in 1963. The presidential motorcade was driving through the crowd-lined plaza when shots were fired; it has since become a National Historic Landmark.

ZAPRUDER

The 26-second film often regarded as the most famous home movie in history was shot by a Texas dressmaker, Abraham Zapruder, 58 years old at the time. Zapruder's home movie film would be the only known recording to capture the entire assassination. After screening the film for Secret Service agents, Zapruder agreed to sell the rights to "Life," but did not want the film to be exploited. He sold the rights for $150,000 plus royalties, according to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

UMBRELLA MAN

Conspiracy theories raged around the identity of the “Umbrella Man.” Despite sunny weather in Dallas that day, a man was captured in photographs holding an open black umbrella over his head as Kennedy’s limousine passed by. Years after the assassination, Louie Steven Witt came forward to say he was Umbrella Man, and had opened the umbrella in protest of Kennedy’s father’s relationship to former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who frequently appeared in public with an umbrella.

RADIO MAN

Like Umbrella Man, Radio Man was a crowd member who stood watching while President Kennedy was shot. He stood next to Umbrella Man, and according to the image from the day, lifted up his hand as Kennedy passed by in his limousine. After the shooting, Umbrella Man and Radio Man sat on the curb together.

PRESIDENTIAL LIMOUSINE

The presidential limousine was a flashy new Lincoln Continental. It had no protective armor anywhere and left Kennedy and other occupants exposed to the crowd, as the president preferred. That day, he chose to leave even a plastic “bubble” off the top so that Texans could get a better look at him and his wife.

BOOK DEPOSITORY

Situated in one corner of Dealey Plaza was a red brick office building that was, at the time, leased to the Texas School Book Depository Company, which distributed text books to high schools. Employee Lee Harvey Oswald stood on the sixth floor of the building and used a rifle to shoot President Kennedy. The floor is now a museum dedicated to Kennedy’s assassination.

Dealey Plaza, a rectangular patch of grass and government buildings in downtown Dallas, Texas, became a focal point of history on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963. That day, President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline rode through the plaza as part of a Presidential motorcade when shots rang out from the Texas School Book Depository’s Sixth Floor window, striking Kennedy in the neck and head and killing him. Investigators and historians still flock to the “Grassy Knoll” at Dealey Plaza today, recreating and studying the assassination that shook America.
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