History of Dealey Plaza

About the Museum

History of the Texas School Book Depository
History of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza
History of Dealey Plaza
Dealey Plaza EarthCam

Photo of Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza is a significant part of Dallas history. The site marks the birthplace of Dallas, originally founded by John Neely Bryan in the 1840s. Almost a century later, during President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, the familiar concrete colonnades and triple underpass were constructed, making this vehicular park an example of successful city planning. These projects were spearheaded by civic leader George Bannerman Dealey. After G.B. Dealey died in 1946, a bronze statue to honor him was installed in the park that already bore his name.

Hailed as "The Front Door of Dallas," Dealey Plaza served as the major gateway to the city from the west and, equally important, as a symbol of civic pride. In November 1963, the focus changed when President Kennedy was assassinated in the heart of the plaza. Instantly, the cradle of Dallas history became known as an internationally recognized murder site.

Grief-stricken citizens began to bring flowers and mementos to Dealey Plaza the day after the assassination. These were the first acts in the transformation of the area into an unofficial memorial site to honor the slain president.

Three decades after the Kennedy assassination, in October 1993, the secretary of the Interior designated Dealey Plaza a National Historic Landmark District. This new historic status acknowledged that the spot where John F. Kennedy died was important in United States history.

Each year on the anniversary of the assassination, hundreds gather in Dealey Plaza to pay their respects to President Kennedy.