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History behind Texas School Book Depository's Sixth Floor Museum

First Posted: 07/18/13 EDT Updated: 07/22/13 EDT

Built in 1901, the Texas School Book Depository's sixth floor was never truly notable -- until it became the site where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot JFK. Many saw the building as a shameful part of Dallas history, and even tried to have it demolished. Despite its troubled history, the building still stands and is now home to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza.

Stephen Fagin, associate curator of Sixth Floor Museum, says Oswald was hired at the building in mid-October of 1963 as an order filler for the Texas School Book Depository. On the day of JFK's assassination, the President's motorcade made a sharp turn from Houston Street onto Elm Street, and Oswald allegedly shot him from the building he was working in. The exact location is the space behind the Southeast corner window of the now infamous sixth floor. After the event, Dallas was marked as being the place where the President was shot, and was dubbed 'city of hate' and 'city of shame.' For Dallas residents, Dealey plaza and the building became an eyesore and a painful reminder of the assassination. The building even represented a manifestation of evil for prominent leaders during that time.

After the textbook distribution company moved out of the building in the early 1970s, there was an effort to tear down the building -- an act some hoped would erase the memories of the tragic event. Ultimately, the Dallas County bought the building in the late 1970s and left the top two floors empty. They hoped that Dallas could come to terms with the building's history and even open an exhibit -- and that happened in 1989. The Sixth Floor Museum opened on President's Day, February 20th.

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