This week marks the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, an event that scarred the American psyche and still fuels the most pervasive conspiracy theories of all time. Today, Dealy Plaza remains relatively untouched, allowing you to stand in the spot Kennedy was killed and ask yourself, "was there a second shooter?"
The official story is that Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine, killed Kennedy from the 6th floor of the Texas Book School Depository where he worked part time, firing three shots from his mail order rifle. A presidential commission headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren quickly decided that Oswald acted alone. Unfortunately, he would never see trial, as just 72 hours after he was arrested, Oswald was fatally shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
While that might be the official story, few believe it. According to a 2003 poll, just 30% of Americans believe that Oswald acted on his own, and it's hard to blame the 70% who don't. Some say that there's no way Oswald could fire a bolt action rifle that quickly, that Kennedy's head flops the wrong direction after being shot a second time, and numerous bystanders pointed to a mysterious puff of smoke on the grassy knoll. Adding more fuel to the conspiracy fire, each time the Kennedy assassination files are due to be unsealed, they're quickly hidden away from the public and sealed again.
There's a lot of speculation as to exactly why Kennedy was killed, from a CIA angry over a botched Bay of Pigs invasion, to the impending release of UFO files, to mobsters taking revenge on tougher prosecution of crime rings. Whatever the reason, the event was one that has stuck with Americans for half a century, and the story is more than worth a personal investigation.
To see where it all went down, follow this map:
Texas Book Depository: According to the official report, Lee Harvey Oswald holed up on the sixth floor of this building, where he fired three quick shots at the President. The first shot ricocheted off an oak tree, with the second two making contact. Oswald's rifle was later found stashed near the window. Today, the building is no longer a book depository, and the entire 6th floor is now a museum dedicated to the Kennedy assassination.
The Grassy Knoll: To those who believe that a second shooter was to blame, this spot is an important one. The white picket fence, which still stands in the same spot today, was of particular interest due to eyewitness reports of "white smoke" and gunshots, leading many to believe that it served as the hiding spot for a second sniper. This is also the location where the Zapruder film, the clearest video of the assassination, was captured.
Kennedy Killed: While Kennedy was shot through the throat only moments earlier, this is the spot where the fatal bullet struck him in the head, killing him instantly.
Parkland Hospital: After being shot, Kennedy was rushed to Parkland Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Days later, Oswald would die in the same building after emergency surgery. Though much work has been done on the hospital, a plaque still adorn the walls, marking the emergency room where the men died.
Police Headquarters: Just days after Kennedy was killed and Oswald arrested as the shooter, he himself was shot by Jack Ruby in the Police station parking garage. He died several hours later without ever seeing any kind of trial, further adding to the conspiracy theories that stated Oswald was a patsy.
Oswald"s Weekend Home: While not explicitly connected to the case, the house where Oswald spent his weekends tells a different story, one of Oswald's wife and child who were caught up in a history changing event they couldn't control. Today, The Paine House has been painstakingly reconstructed to appear as it did the day Kennedy was killed, complete with holographic displays of the people who lived there.
Henry Ford Museum: If Dearborn, Michigan is a bit closer to you than Dallas, Texas, you can swing by the Henry Ford museum to see the 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible that Kennedy met his demise in. You might note that it looks much different in person than it does in the Zapruder film. As morbid as it might sound, the vehicle continued to be used as a presidential limo, albeit this time with a roof.