A Trip Down Memory Lane

This past Sunday, I had a bit of time to spare before heading out with the family. While browsing around online, I came across an urban exploration video of the now demolished Six Flags Mall in Arlington. Seeing that, it suddenly made me think of a place that is full of memories that I could go visit: Valley View Mall, located less than 5 miles from the house.

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The huge sign overlooking Highway 635 with an almost faded reminder of Sears.

Opening in the summer of 1973 and located right off Highway 635, Valley View Mall was poised for success from the start.  It had pretty much all the stores an average shopper would visit, not to mention a super accessible location. Business was very good until the mid 2000s, when the concept of the mall started to fade out. Valley View was one of the first victims of this trend, with Galleria Dallas located right down the road and upscale NorthPark Center less than 7 miles away.  Stores started to gradually close, until in 2012 the mall was sold to a development group. Their plan was (and still is) to demolish the mall and put a luxury shopping and apartment development in its place, called Dallas Midtown. The demolition finally started last year, but as of now has been put on hold while the developer settles some legal issues with the City of Dallas. Worked out well I guess, since it gave me a chance to see the mall for what could perhaps be the last time!

When I drove in, I saw the first victim of the demolition. The Macy’s store (formerly Foley’s) had already been mostly razed. I still remember visiting here as an elementary school aged child, with my mother buying clothes there and me tagging along during the summer. I even bought my fifth grade graduation outfit here. The store closed in 2007, and has been vacant since.

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The Macy’s is just about gone.

Driving around to the other side of the mall, I saw the last department store to close. Sears, having been in business even before the mall opened, finally shut its doors in June of last year. It had three stories and was where I completed driver’s education. In the times I’ve been in there, business has never been super good, but it was a pretty reliable place to go if you needed some tools or wanted to buy a new refrigerator. In its parking lot was one of those travelling amusement parks, with different rides and games. Those parks have been in and out of the mall for many years now. Guess it’s a way to try and boost business.

I parked my car by the entrance next to the former Sears store and walked in. The only part of the mall still open is the Sears wing and one of the hallways next to it. Even the Chinese restaurant(originally a Luby’s Cafeteria) that seemed to have been around for ages was all boarded up.

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Business wasn’t too good for New China Grille, but they held on for well over 10 years.

Walking in, I could see that there were still 1-2 shops open. A Taekwondo/dance school had people in there congregating, and there was a snack stand in there. However, the lack of a warm ambiance that the mall once had was very visible.

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The former Champs Sports store. Once upon a time, people would line up outside here on sneaker release days.
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These circular benches have been around since I was a kid. 

As I came to the center of the mall, the concierge desk was still there, but there were no security officers, or anyone for that matter stationed there. The cameras and monitors were all still on, staring into the mostly empty space.

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I still remember my mom stopping by here to pick up a copy of Dallas Child way back in the day.

The elevators and escalators to the first floor were all boarded up, and there were only two stores open in the center space. One of them was a Chinese artifacts shop, which has been in the mall for over ten years! The guy working inside said that he did not know when the mall would finally be demolished. A sign outside the store read “closing sale, everything discounted”. The other place sold coasters, pillows, and other handmade artifacts made by a disabled veteran. Much like the Chinese shop, the owner wasn’t certain as to when Valley View would come down. Business was dead at both of these stores, a sad reality to the situation at hand.

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Came across this broken advertisement board, with the ad rotation mechanism at the top still spinning.

The only place where business can really be found is at the AMC Theater. Opened in 2004, this theater has 16 screens and is the only anchor business still operating. When I went up to the third floor where it is located, I could see a steady stream of people coming and going.

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The only place here where a decent amount of people can still be found.

Looking down from there, I got a very good glimpse of the food court on the first floor, and the sealed off shops on the second floor. Up until the second floor was shut off, there was “The Gallery at Midtown”, where local artists would set up their studios in the vacant stores. Many times, they could be seen working on their paintings, while the hallway served as a gallery of sorts. There would be events, auctions, and even art classes held there. It really provided a boost in foot traffic, even if those folks weren’t spending any money with mall businesses.

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Even 10 years ago, this place was filled with shoppers!

In an abandoned mall like this, you are bound to find some really odd things. One of them was the Chatter Box Cafe, located on the other open hallway leading to the AMC parking lot. An Auntie Anne’s Pretzels shop way back, I recall that Chatter Box took over as early as 2011 after the storefront sat vacant for a few years. However, there was no sign that it was an actual operating business. The business sign was up, a bit of equipment sat there, and even the lights on, but no commerce was happening.

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One strange sight. I have never seen Chatter Box Cafe open in my many years of passing by.

Equally as eerie was the abandoned Santa’s village on the first floor, in front of an empty fountain. It once was a hub of happiness during the Christmas shopping season, where parents would take their kids to have their photo taken with Saint Nick. Now it just sits there, like an unused toy waiting to be discarded.

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On my way out, I passed by an unique statue of a soldier reading a letter sent from his family. Valley View used to have a World War II uniform and artifact museum in one of the empty stores, but even that is now long gone. This statue didn’t use to be in the same spot,though. When the second floor was open, it was located in the Dillard’s wing, by the art galleries.

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One nice display of public art in the midst of the depressing background.

With both the developer and the city wanting this mall to come down as soon as possible, time is limited for Valley View Mall. This place held many memories for me – the place where I took driving lessons, location of my first high school part time job, countless shopping trips with family as a kid, among many others. The same could be said for many other people, and it is a sore reminder of how the landscape of retail and malls in general are changing.

Experience and Remember: The Dallas Holocaust Museum

This past Saturday, I was going to fly out to see the city of San Marcos, but a weather system and fatigue from a busy work week made me decide to stay in town. The time was not wasted, however. I visited a place that I have passed by many times while riding the light rail into the downtown area, the Dallas Holocaust Museum. I wanted to see the museum, as the Holocaust had always been an event in history that struck my interest. How it was possible for a government to massacre so many humans in such a ruthless and torturous manner was just incomprehensible.

I began my journey the same way I usually do when heading to a destination in the city center: by boarding the DART green line train at the Downtown Farmers Branch station. Parking woes and fighting people on the highway on a Saturday was something I easily could do without. The trip took about 35 minutes, and I disembarked at the West End station. From there, it was about a 5 minute walk to the museum.

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The Dallas Holocaust Museum. They are building a new, bigger building right across the street.

Upon entering, I saw that this was a multi use building, with the museum occupying only the first floor. I normally would have to pay to get in, however since I was a Bank of America cardholder, I get free admission to a number of museums across the country on the first full weekend of each month, and this was one of them. After showing my bank card, I was handed an audio tour device, which would serve as my tour guide as I traversed the exhibits.

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Surprisingly easy to use and was super detailed in explaining the content.

The museum was structured around one day in the Holocaust – April 19, 1943.

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Although the exhibit didn’t seem to be in any particular order(from what I gathered), it was easy to follow and talked about the Holocaust mainly by event. The first section I came to talked about the three brave men that stopped the twentieth train convoy bound for the Auschwitz death camp on April 19th. The only mass breakout ever to happen on a death camp bound train, these men did it only with a lantern, a pair of pliers, and a pistol. Although they sought assistance from underground resistance groups, assistance was denied due to possible retaliation. 223 people escaped, of which 118 ultimately survived the Holocaust.

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In the middle are the three men that coordinated the breakout. The quote on the wall was written by George Livchitz, one of the three.
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Special skills was sometimes a lifesaver in a concentration camp. In this case, this person survived the concentration camp by making jewelry and watches for the Nazis.

As I moved on, a jumpsuit caught my eye. Having studied the Holocaust in school and read books such as Night, I had an understanding of the horrors of the camps. However, when I saw the jumpsuit and various other artifacts on display such as shoes and eating utensils, it all became very real for me the horrors that the human race can unleash.

Most of those shoes on display were worn by kids. The Nazis didn’t care if these prisoners were young or old, they were tortured the same. If they got any food at all, it was so little that it was definitely not enough to sustain life.

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Some of the eating utensils that prisoners used to eat the scant amount of food they got.

I then saw a red boxcar. This boxcar was the first European one to be shipped to the United States. It was of the same type that was used to transport thousands of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and anyone else the Nazi Party sought unfit to the camps.

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This very boxcar likely transported people to unspeakable torture, and for many, death.

The audio guide said that the undercarriage of the boxcar was severely damaged at some point in time, and was restored to its original condition as best possible to provide us with the most accurate picture.

Next, I learned about the ghettos. These enclosed living districts were designed to segregate Jews from the rest of the population. In the ghettos, disease and hunger ran rampant. This diagram shows why clearly.

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While the normal food ration for Germans was 2514 calories, Jews only got a measly 184. That less than 8% of what the “superior race” got! This diagram and the many pictures in the exhibit helped me understand life in the ghettos and how the Nazis were slowly carrying out the demise of these people.

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All Jews were forced to wear this star whenever they went out identifying them to the public as such.

April 19th was also the date of the Bermuda Conference. Held at the British Territory of Bermuda, it was a meeting between delegates of the United States and the United Kingdom. The topic at hand was how to save the Jews who were in Nazi occupied Europe. Although the topic was discussed, this meeting failed to stop the concentration camps and the Nazi Party. The conference became the subject of much criticism, with people labeling it as a “program of inaction”.

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Pictures and newspaper clippings talking about the Bermuda Conference.

Finishing up the core exhibit was the memorial room. Names on the wall listed the family members of people that died in the Holocaust, while a granite memorial in the middle bears a resemblance poem for the people that died in this tragic event.

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Next to the memorial, there was a theater that was showing a documentary. I did not stop in to watch, but there were quite a few people who had.

I then walked back into the lobby area. On the other side of the museum was the special exhibit section. They were showing a photo collection detailing the internment of Japanese Americans by the U.S. Government during World War II. Although they weren’t physically tortured or sent to death like the Jews, it illustrated a very dark time in American history, when the color of your skin or your ancestry could make you be viewed as a traitor to your country. The photos were very well captured, and the exhibit well organized. (photography was not allowed in the special exhibit area)

Before leaving, I stopped by the mini gift shop, right next to the admissions counter. They sell various souvenirs and literature, ranging from lapel pins and t-shirts to books and posters. I opted for a t-shirt. The designs they offered were pretty cool!

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A shirt with a real message.

From there, I rode the train back to mi casa. Although this was one of the smaller museums I have been to, few have been as thought provoking as this one. As perhaps best said in the words of philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That saying could not be more true, and this museum goes far in ensuring that this dark side of history is known by the masses so that such horror will never happen again.

 

The Water Gardens of Cowtown

Fort Worth: most known for cattle, cowboys, and the stockyards, also has one of the coolest parks I’ve seen – the Water Gardens located in the downtown area. I had heard about this place since I was in elementary school, but never got around to checking it out. I decided to change that last Wednesday.

Being in the lazy mode that I was during Spring Break, the last thing I wanted to do was fight highway traffic on the one hour drive to get there. I elected to take public transportation instead- something I have been doing much more often recently.

To get to Cowtown, I first took the Green Line light rail train from the Downtown Farmers Branch station to Victory Station, which is located right next to the American Airlines Center. From Victory, I hopped on the Trinity Railway Express(TRE) train, which runs between Dallas and Fort Worth with numerous stops in between. The TRE has two fare zones: east and west with the DFW Airport station being the fare boundary. If you are riding anywhere west of the big airport, that requires a regional ticket, while a local DART pass is sufficient for the portion from Victory to DFW.

The automated DART ticket vending machine was pretty vague when it came to student regional fares, and as a result I didn’t purchase my ticket while at Farmers Branch. When I arrived at Victory, the TRE train was already at the station and I hopped right on. I disembarked at the downtown Irving station(one stop away from needing a regional fare), with the plan to buy my ticket and get right back on. Didn’t work out quite as planned. The train only stops at each station for around a minute, which is not enough time to walk to the vending machine and buy your fare. As a result, the train pulled away leaving me in the heart of Irving. Checked the timetable which said the next train wouldn’t arrive until one hour later. Great. I purchased my fare, and then walked to the McDonald’s right across the street to chill and grab some food. Before I knew it, one hour had elapsed and I was back on the TRE. Passed by a few more stations, and then finally arrived at the western terminus: the Fort Worth T&P Station. From there, the Water Gardens were right across the street.

Built in 1974, the Water Gardens have four distinct areas: the aerated water pool, the quiet water pool, the active water pool, and the mountain. According to the sign there, each zone conveys a different message. I checked out the mountain area first.

The mountain area features tall cement “mountain” blocks that simulate being in the midst of a mountain range, all while providing a barrier between the garden’s peacefulness and the outside city traffic. At first, I didn’t quite understand how it looked like a mountain range, but upon stepping back and looking at all the blocks it did sort of resemble one.

The next zone was where most people think of when referencing the Water Gardens: the active water pool. This whole area is sunken into the ground, with numerous waterfalls pouring water down into the base. There are steps that people can walk down to get to the base.

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All those steps take you from ground level to pool level!

The individual steps are separated from each other about 5 inches. Bountiful amounts of people were walking down and enjoying this unique setup.

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This pentagon shaped base is one of the coolest features of the Water Gardens.

As I arrived at the base, the sight and sound of the water rushing by was rather relaxing. Some folks stopped to sit on a concrete block to take everything in, while others paused to take a selfie.

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#selfie

If you have a fear of falling in and drowning, chances are you will turn out just fine. In 2004, a girl fell in while walking around the base. Herself and three others that jumped in to save her all drowned. As a result, the park underwent a significant overhaul to make it much safer. While the pool at the base was around twelve feet deep then, after the redesign it is just two feet. That being said, common sense safety precautions should definitely still be observed, and signs everywhere bring light to that. A police officer was also seen patrolling around the complex. No swimming or horseplay is allowed here!

The next two zones, while not as exciting as the active water pool, are still notable in their own light. The aerated water pool features many sprinklers spraying a fine mist of water in the middle of a fountain, and it gives the impression that one is about to get sprayed with water. In fact, it is simply an optical illusion.

The last section is the quiet pool. As I walked in, I noticed that the big concrete blocks making up the perimeter are acting as a waterfall of sorts, with water flowing straight down from the top. Also present were some tall trees providing for shade- the kind that are typically seen in East Texas. In the middle is an almost stagnant pool of water.

Although the active water pool seemed to be the most popular, each zone had a constant stream of people coming and going. In addition, there were a few photo shoots going on. I’m sure all these distinct areas, especially the quiet pool would make a great backdrop. In the middle of all these zones was an open area that many parents (and kids) used as a hangout spot, and it sure provides for a nice place to cool off in those hot Texas summers.

Since I had already seen the majority of downtown Fort Worth from previous trips, from there I boarded the TRE back home. Even with the delay on my way here, it was still a nice trip to see something that isn’t found in Dallas, or anywhere I’ve visited for that matter. If you are looking for a cool attraction where water is utilized as a form of art, this is for sure the place to visit!

Paying the Feds a Visit!

“Where is a cool place to check out?”, I thought to myself as I was planning out my itinerary for Spring Break a few weeks ago. I browsed around the Internet to see what was interesting and worth seeing here in the Dallas area. Came upon the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and saw that they had an exhibit open to the public. Sounded like it would be pretty worthwhile, even if it was just to see what the building looked like on the inside.

As I do most times when heading to the downtown area, I took the DART light rail train. Doesn’t really make much sense to circle around for 20 minutes just to find some expensive, not to mention sketchy garage to park at! The Green Line trip from the Downtown Carrollton station to the Pearl/Arts District station took just over 40 minutes.  Upon disembarking, I was only about 7-8 minutes walking distance away from the Dallas Fed, right on the other side of Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

Upon entering, the first thing I noticed were the tight security measures in place. There were cameras everywhere, and not much of a lobby except for the security screening area. I went up to the access desk and told them that I was here for the exhibit. They took my ID (presumably to run a background check), handed me a sticker and then sent me on my way to the security checkpoint.

Once at the checkpoint, I had to remove all metallic objects from my pocket and place them on the x-ray machine. I then stepped thru a metal detector, much like what goes on at the airport. What was unlike the airport though, was what happened next. I then was told to walk into a portal containing two steel doors. Once I stepped inside, the door behind me closed, and thereafter the door in front of me opened. This setup was designed to prevent one from just running into the secured area, or perhaps piggybacking behind someone else. Now, I was officially in their lobby, which is where the exhibit resides!

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A very nicely designed building, both on the exterior and interior.

The exhibit, titled The Economy in Action, talked about the history of money and how the Federal Reserve came to be, the duties of the Fed, and some background information into the Dallas district. I started off by watching a brief film, narrated by one of the top dogs of the Dallas district, welcoming us into the exhibit and describing the vast and unique economy that they have jurisdiction over. Dallas, the 11th district of 12 across the country, spans all of Texas and parts of New Mexico and Louisiana.

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The Texas-Mexico border plays a huge role into our economy.

After the film, I started learning about the history of currency. Displays of various instruments of currency and visual depictions made it easy to comprehend how currency used to be something regulated by private financial institutions, and then moved to the control of a central bank. It also touched on the monetary system used by the Republic of Texas, and I got to see bills from that era.

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From there, I went into the section that talks about the duties of the Reserve. Upon exiting the exhibit at the end, I realized that I had toured it backwards..LOL! Oh well. Coming in, the first thing that drew my eye were these big carts that appeared to store money..lots of money.

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Too bad they aren’t giving away some of that green stuff as a souvenir to their visitors!

Played the video and learned that these carts do indeed store money, the $ that comes from banks and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for safekeeping until needed. In fact, armored trucks deliver and pick up cash here all the time. Upon arrival, they first go through a rigorous inspection process at the loading dock to make sure they are not carrying anything suspicious, before the process of on-loading/offloading those greenbacks begins. All money dropped off is counted before the Fed officially takes possession. They then immediately run all the bills thru a machine that checks to make sure the bill isn’t worn out or damaged, and that’s it’s not counterfeit. Should it be the former, they are shredded, while the fake stuff gets sent to the Secret Service for investigation.

As I moved on, a handgun in a display case caught my eye. Safety and security is such a paramount aspect of the work that is done here, that they have their own police force! The Federal Reserve Police, created in 2001, is a fully operational, armed police force that protects the building and its assets, inspects people and property, and responds to emergencies.

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Should anyone try to break in, they will be met with deadly force.

The next section talked about how the Federal Reserve works in both the American and global economy. The Fed stepped in during various financial meltdowns, natural disasters, and other occasions of need by loaning banks money and other behind the scenes processes so that the economic wheel keeps turning.

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Interactive displays allowed me to attain understanding of what these guys do.

I then got to learn how the Federal Reserve hierarchical structure is laid out. The diagram and explanations did an outstanding job in educating someone from the general public with little to no knowledge of this aspect. Covered was what kind of role each committee and board plays, and how the members are appointed to said positions.

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The last (really first) section talked about the founding of the Fed, dating back to the late 1790s. Fun fact: The current Federal Reserve isn’t the nation’s first central bank! The first was actually created by President George Washington in 1791, and lasted for only 20 years due to political opposition for its charter to be renewed by the Senate. Speaking of Washington, also covered were finances during the days of the original colonies and the subsequent American Revolution. Some very cool stuff if you are interested in the history that eventually led us to where we are today.

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Getting my typical tourist shot.

In conclusion, this was a very well put together exhibit that is worth the trip for anyone who is interested in economics, finance, or just how “the system” works in general. No matter what your opinion is of the feds, The Economy in Action really gives you their side of the story well, and is good for gaining some background information into this part of our government.  That being said, the content can be a bit dry at times, but still generally relevant and understandable for your average college educated citizen.

Not to mention you get to see a very well constructed and designed building at an awesome price- free!

 

 

Checking out the Bush Library!

Texas is known for many things – oil, NASA, and also the Bush family. When President George W. Bush stepped down in 2009, he decided to call Dallas home. In April of 2013, after many years of selection, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum was officially opened to the public on the grounds of Southern Methodist University.  I decided to go check it out back in late December.

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One of the top tourist destinations in Dallas.

Being that this museum is located on the grounds of a university, parking was definitely not going to be free. At least not after a half hour anyway. My total for parking came out to be around $4 for about two and a half hours.

Once inside, everyone had to go through airport style security. Fortunately, the line wasn’t too long. Buying the ticket at the admissions desk was pretty painless as well.

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I am now authorized to enter the exhibition hall!

The museum is presented in a chronological format, starting from the early days of Bush’s life living in Midland and attending school. Pictures, artifacts, and videos show him on the campaign trail, election night, and the subsequent voting tie with Democrat Al Gore. A video of news media coverage is shown from that night, and how the State of Florida and Gore’s campaign ordered a recount of all the votes is explained pretty well. I also learned that the Supreme Court eventually got involved and settled the matter.

The next section talked about Bush’s first year, and covered key domestic and foreign policy issues such as No Child Left Behind. This law, proposed by Bush himself in January of 2001, and enacted one year later, set standardized testing requirements that all K-12 schools must meet, among other things.

Obviously, one of the events that marked Bush’s presidency was 9/11, and it got a special section. Up for exhibit are many interesting and unique items that were significant to that horrible day in history. An item that I really found amazing was a pair of steel columns from the World Trade Center. The docents allowed us to touch it, and it really showed the marvels of engineering and the horrors of terrorism.

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This pair of 22 feet high steel beams was integral in holding together the World Trade Center.

All around the beams, engraved in panels, were the names of those that were killed on that fateful day. Video screens show media footage of when news of the attack first broke out. As I was walking thru, I couldn’t help but feel the somberness of the room. This was an emotional day for so many, and an event that changed how we Americans deal with foreign threats and national security.

As I moved along, one of the most famous artifacts used in the immediate aftermath caught my eye: the bullhorn used in President Bush’s first visit to the still smoldering WTC site.

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Amid the rubble, Bush used this bullhorn to proclaim “I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

For Americans, this was a sign that there was still law and order. The exhibit then talked about the subsequent invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, George’s thanksgiving dinner with the troops in Baghdad, and other domestic and foreign issues during that time frame.

From there, I explored what is probably the most crowded room of the museum- the Oval Office mock-up.

There was a bit of a line as we all waited to take our photo seated behind the desk. If it wasn’t for Central Expressway that was outside those windows, you pretty much couldn’t tell it apart from the real Oval Office. The phone on the desk looked super realistic, with different buttons that linked the leader of the most powerful country in the world to different commanders and top aides. I wonder if it was taken straight from W’s desk when he stepped down.

All around the office were different artifacts and items. From the books on the bookshelf, to family photos, the designers really paid tremendous attention to detail. There was even a little wooden box that contained a call button, most likely linked to the aides outside or perhaps even the Secret Service.

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The button you press when those questions from the reporters becomes a bit too tough.

Upon exiting the Oval Office, the rest of the museum primarily focused on W’s last few years in office, and touched upon the different humanitarian objectives that he was a part of. The main exhibit hall ended with a video message from George and Laura, thanking us for visiting.

In the holiday spirit, there was also a small limited time exhibit when I went- the All Things Bright and Beautiful: Christmas at the White House 2005. It featured the Christmas tree that was on the lawn, photos of Christmas arrangements and decorations of various rooms, and some ornaments and decorative items that was at the White House in the 2005 year. Very cool!

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A (presidential) winter wonderland.

Although most people leave after seeing the exhibits, there is a hidden treasure- the library. Anybody can register to be a researcher and look at documents from Bush’s tenure. Creating my research card was easy- an archivist met me in the lobby, took me to the back, and took down my info. Within three minutes, I had my researcher card. The best part is that this section of the building is free!

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My research card.

I was then led to the research room, a quiet and peaceful place to examine the files of ‘W. Although I was the only researcher there that afternoon, I heard that it is frequented by the students of SMU and other colleges for gathering information to write papers and such.

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The research room. The archivists were very helpful!

I was given a binder containing different subjects and their respective call numbers. Pretty much anything can be found here, from correspondence on Iraq to letters sent to the White House for Asian Pacific Heritage Month!

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This binder contains an abundance of subjects.

After selecting what topics I was interested in, I filled out a form and the archivists pulled the respective cases for me. Inside contained letters, memos, cards, and other documents pertaining to the subject matter.

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Found this in one of the Iraq War cases. A letter sent from A&M to ‘W.
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Even documents we may consider insignificant such as cover documents for internal distribution are retained.

There is also an abundance of digital records, mainly containing e-mails and other electronic correspondence. Three computers in the research room allow for the viewing of these records.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The National Archives and SMU really did a great job in putting everything together!

 

 

Being a Tourist in my own City(sorta)

So I decided to stay in town this past weekend. As I was thinking of where I could go visit, my mind suddenly thought of places surrounding the event that Dallas is most well known for – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I knew about Dealey Plaza, having driven past there quite a few times, but still decided to do some research before heading out. As I was browsing around, TripAdvisor also pointed me to the JFK Memorial, just up the road from the assassination site. Having never been there, I knew I wanted to pay a visit. Thinking back, it has been a while since I’ve been to the downtown Dallas area – about three months in fact.

I decided to skip the drive and ride public transportation instead, as I often do when going to downtown. Not only is parking potentially expensive, you gotta walk either way, so why not.  After boarding the DART green line train from the downtown Carrollton station, I found out that due to construction there would be no green line service into the downtown stations. Looked at the map and decided to disembark at the Inwood/Love Field station, and take the Orange Line into downtown. The Orange line runs from Parker Road in Plano all the way to DFW Airport, with many stops in the downtown area.

After getting off at the West End station, the walk to the JFK memorial was only about 5 minutes. On the way there, I passed by El Centro College, the site where 5 police officers were killed in the summer of 2016. A poster could be seen hanging from the balcony of a business commemorating the event.

Upon reaching it, I was immediately intrigued by its unique design. Built in the 70s, the JFK memorial is right across the street from the George Allen Courts Building, containing the civil and family courts of Dallas County.

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A very unique design, and as I found out, a very symbolic remembrance to JFK.
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A granite slab lays in the center. Standing in there I felt a sense of peacefulness, even amongst the sound of traffic.

My initial thought was that the opening was created in the middle to symbolize an open atmosphere, the free flowing of ideas, and an ever lasting remembrance to our 35th president. The slab of granite placed in the middle was black to symbolize that dark day. After reading the display, I realized I wasn’t too far off.

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In actuality, the opening is meant to symbolize the freedom of JFK’s spirit. The entire structure is 30 feet tall and 50 feet square. Supported by eight pillars, the memorial appears to float above the ground. Dealey Plaza only lay 200 feet away. Plenty of folks were here on this cloudy morning taking photos and looking around.

I then crossed Houston Street to get to Dealey Plaza. This was the site where President Kennedy’s motorcade was travelling through as gunshots rang out, hitting him and the Texas Governor. The City of Dallas has kept this area just like it looked in 1963.

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Kennedy’s motorcade was travelling on this street (Elm) towards the triple underpass when shots rang out.

The grassy knoll area, off to the right, was the subject of much discussion when the FBI was investigating Kennedy’s death. Quite a few witnesses reported hearing shots being fired from that direction. The official explanation is that as the motorcade turned on Elm Street, Lee Harvey Oswald fired a shot from the Texas School Book Depository building. Many conspiracy theories exist as to who really killed Kennedy and from where, and I’m sure it won’t be an issue that gets settled anytime soon.

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The X marks the exact spot where the assassination occurred.

As I was looking at the Texas School Book Depository Building, and its proximity to the X, I realized the distance was much shorter than I initially thought.

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A head on view of Elm Street.  The Texas School Book Depository is across the street from the red building(The Sixth Floor Museum Gift Shop).

That tragic day put Dallas on the world map, and I was very glad I got to see both places that cover this important piece of history. Regardless of political affiliation, this site is worth seeing..even if it is just to debunk all those conspiracy theories!