Credited with co-planning the city of Van Buren, Arkansas, pioneer John Neely Bryan set the stage for future development when he planted a stake in the ground overlooking a fork of the Trinity River and laid claim to the spot he dreamed would someday become a city.  He foresaw it as a crossroads for commerce, and his vision would be grandly realized but not, as he thought, because of the river.  After some tribulations and problems with local Native Americans, Dallas was incorporated into a city in 1846 just as the Republic of Texas became a part of the United States. Bryan’s cabin, moved 7 miles from its original location, is now in the West End as a monument to the hardy spirit of Dallas’ birth. 

Like the rest of Texas, Dallas' history was largely influenced by the cattle market, the discovery of oil, particularly in East Texas and the railroads.  Indeed, the railroads were what finally brought Bryan's vision into reality as the Houston & Texas Central and the Texas & Pacific railroads came through Dallas in the 1870s facilitating a boom in population and commerce.  Old City Park: The Historical Village of Dallas located at the corner of Gano and Harwood Streets is another great place to experience Dallas' past.  Old City Park tells the history of Dallas' citizens through thirty-eight relocated historic buildings and a collection of artefacts dating between 1840 and 1910.

Dallas’ infamous sons and daughters are often romanticized as having a truly individual and independent spirit; outlaw Belle Starr’s reputation for rebellion is lauded, bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde are falsely remembered as champions of the poor and even the fictional J.R. Ewing, the embodiment of ruthless ambition, is seen as a man carving out an empire for the sake of his family. 

Only Lee Harvey Oswald is held apart from this deification of individuality.  Two days after his arrest for the assassination of the president he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby a Dallas Nightclub owner rumored to have mafia ties.  A solemn and regretful aura surrounds local opinion regarding Oswald, and yet conspiracy theories abound deflecting the blame of the assassination of a well-loved president from the city itself.  Only in recent years has Dallas been able to accept its fate in history as the place of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. 

The 6th Floor Museum, Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll, the JFK Memorial and the Conspiracy Museum honestly and openly address the horrifying events of November 22, 1963 with fascinating exhibits as well as a look at the very window in the Texas Book Depository from which a mortal shot was fired.

 

The 6th Floor Museum  located in the Texas School Book Depository is one of the most visited museums in the southwest.  While you may learn nothing new here, it is a great place to tell your kids about what happened and reflect upon the times.  Outside on Dealey Plaza, a red X marks the spot in the road where the president was struck down.  While some visitors have macabre desire to be photographed standing on the X, be wary lest you too be struck down… by a car.