Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Historic Dallas Part 3: Dealey Plaza

For most people, the name "Dealey Plaza" is a grim reminder of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But it has a rich history and is the true birthplace of Dallas, Texas. Part 3 of "Historic Dallas" shows this National Landmark designed by landscape architects Sidney J. Hare and S. Herbert Hare of Kansas City, Missouri. The choice of Hare and Hare was actually quite a logical one, as they had a hand in designing many Texas parks, especially throughout the Houston area.

Stepping out from the Big Old Red Museum, the view of Dealey Plaza is sublimely framed by the blue granite arches. The statue seen standing is of late Dallas Morning News publisher George B. Dealey. It was sculpted by Felix de Weldon (the same sculptor who crafted "The Flag Raising On Iwo Jima") and inside the granite base is a metal box with documents relating to his life. It might be of interest to know that originally the statue was supposed to be of Robert E. Lee on horseback, but four years previous it was decided the Lee statue would be placed in Oak Lawn.

Behind the statue are four bronze-reliefs (also by de Weldon) in a semi-circle, each depicting a different interest of Dealey's, and behind it, a concrete pergola. This concrete pergola theme is repeated throughout the plaza. Off in the distance on the left-hand side is the famous Reunion Tower. To the right of the pergola stands a base with a plaque that reads:

"Dealey Plaza
Birthplace of Dallas
Within this small park was built the first home, which also served as the first courthouse and postoffice[sic], the first store and the first fraternal lodge. Dedicated to the pioneers of civic progress by order of the Park Board."

It's important to know that locals pronounce it as "Day-lee" rather than "Dee-lee". If you walk into a store and ask about "Deelee Plaza" they will most likely not know what you are talking about. Also, the "first fraternal lodge" mentioned in the plaque actually refers to the first Masonic Lodge in Dallas.

Looking left of the statue, we see a beautiful reflecting pool, again with Reunion Tower behind it.

Looking to the right, across the street, a nearly identical pergola stands. In lieu of a statue is a large segmented concrete pillar monument.

Unfortunately, immediately after capturing this image, the camera battery ran out and I wasn't carrying a spare. At some point, I'll have to revisit Dealey Plaza at night, as I hear it's beautiful. I'll probably visit the JFK Memorial Plaza at the same time. When I do, I'll also go through and try to capture the bronze relief plates. There were several more photos I would have liked to take.

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