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USA: Texas: Dallas
Dallas, Texas, USA: Famous for the wrong reason
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
I am sure there would be so much more to Dallas, but one tragic incident made the city known throughout the world. Incorporated as a city way back in 1856, Dallas shook the world on November 22, 1963. On this fateful day President John F Kennedy was assassinated.
On my way to Orlando, Florida, I took a break in Dallas. My host was my college mate Chandrakant Damle and his gracious wife Gargi. Like most of the American homes, even their home was large. Nestled in a quiet neighbourhood of Lewisville, Texas, the coupleís 5-bedroom home sure needed guests! I had 2 days on hand to explore a bit of Dallas. Sadly, almost a day was lost due to thunderstorms. Yes, Texas has them.
With the limited time on hand, Dallas downtown was the only one area that we could do. But then thatís where most of the action is. We parked the car, in one of the lots in downtown area and footed our way through.
Our first stop was the 6th Floor Museum. As the name suggests, the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository (now Dallas County Administration Building) is a museum. The Warren Commission found that Lee Harvey Oswald shot dead the President from a corner room on this floor. Mystery still surrounds the assassination. While the case is long closed, a doubt whether the killing was a part of a larger conspiracy still persists.
Entry fee to the museum is $11.50. The fee includes an audio tour that walks you along the many exhibits that showcases the life of President John F Kennedy and the assassination. Photographs of various happenings are bound to stun the viewer. When in Dallas, a visit to this museum is highly recommended. Photography is not allowed in the museum. After spending about 90 minutes in the museum, we walked down the Elm Street. We turned around from the spot where the President was shot.
A block away is the John F Kennedy Memorial. This cenotaph or the open tomb was designed by Philip Johnson. The white structure, built with pre cast concrete columns gives a feeling of openness. The plaque tells it all:
"The joy and excitement of John Fitzgerald Kennedyís life belonged to all men. So did the pain and sorrow of his death. When he died on November 22, 1963, shock and agony touched human conscience throughout the world. In Dallas, Texas, there was a special sorrow. The young President died in Dallas. The death bullets were fired 200 yards west of this site. This memorial, designed by Philip Johnson, was erected by the people of Dallas. Thousands of citizens contributed support, money and effort. It is not a memorial to the pain and sorrow of death, but stands as a permanent tribute to the joy and excitement of one manís life. John Fitzgerald Kennedyís life."
Standing opposite to the JFK Memorial is The Old Red Museum. Thereís a permanent exhibit of the American History & Culture. The museum also brings in other exhibits from time to time. This is a popular location for weddings and parties. A couple of blocks away is the Dallas World Aquarium. I liked the way it has been designed. Though itís an aquarium, visitors get an opportunity to walk past enclosures of birds, reptiles, penguins, sharks and of course fish. Entry to the aquarium is $20. I found that a bit expensive.
It was almost 5 in the afternoon. We walked back in the shadows of the many skyscrapers (notably the Bank of America HQ ) to the parked car. Next, we drove to the Reunion Tower. The plan was to have a drink at about 500 feet above ground level.
Itís an Observation Tower and is Dallasí icon. The tower is part of the Hotel Hyatt Regency complex. During my visit the revolving restaurant was functioning but the observation deck was closed for renovation. We spent an hour till such time the restaurant rotated a full round. It was a great experience sipping a chilled drink, munching on a few snacks and see the world pass by down below.
That evening we had our dinner at Olive Garden Ė a chain of restaurants serving Italian cuisine. I do make it a point to have at least one meal out there whenever I am in the USA. Just so you know, the salad and the bread are on the house. And they are simply delicious.
The next day we decided to check out the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens and the Stockyard Station. Fort Worth is about 35 miles from Dallas. A period train (wooden coaches, non-airconditioned) slowly hoots its way from Dallas to Stockyard. The journey takes over 90 minutes. Good for the enthusiasts who can brave the heat. With our car, we were there in about 45 minutes.
The Botanic Gardens is quite centrally located. Spread over 109 acres the garden is divided into many sections. While admission is free, thereís a charge to enter the Conservatory and the Japanese Garden. We had all plans to visit every section of this beautiful garden, but the heavy rain forced us to turn back.
Drenched, we drove to the Stockyard Station. Thankfully it was covered. The station took you back in history. Wooden structures and stores designed the old fashioned way added to the charm. Every day at 11AM and 4PM, cowboys riding on their horses usher the longhorn cows through the main street. We were there on time, but the show was cancelled due to the rains.
Two blocks away is the famous Billy Bobís Texas. Housed within a large warehouse, the location is hit with locals and tourists. The place has a massive dance floor, stage (it has been home to many a celebrities), pool tables, bar and a restaurant that serves excellent food. After enjoying a hearty meal, we returned home. Partly sad as we had missed the show as also the home coming celebrations of an American Idol runner up who was to perform at the Stockyard Station.
My flight to Orlando was to leave at 6 AM the next morning. The wakeup call was set up at 4. Early to bed was desirable.
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