John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial Plaza
Designed by architect Philip Johnson and erected in 1970, the concrete memorial to President Kennedy dominates a square in downtown Dallas near Dealey Plaza, where the president was assassinated. Johnson's design is a cenotaph, or open tomb, that symbolizes the freedom of Kennedy's spirit. The memorial is a square, roofless room, 30 feet high and 50 x 50 feet wide with two narrow openings facing north and south.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial in Dallas (2014)
Kennedy Memorial is located in Texas
Kennedy Memorial
Kennedy Memorial
Kennedy Memorial is located in the US
Kennedy Memorial
Kennedy Memorial
Kennedy Memorial (the US)
Coordinates32°46′43″N 96°48′23″W / 32°46′43″N 96°48′23″W / 32.77861; -96.80639
Kennedy Memorial and Plaza
Part of
DLMKHD #H/2 (West End HD)
Significant dates
Designated NHLDCPApril 19, 1993
Designated CPNovember 14, 1978
Designated DLMKHDOctober 6, 1975[2]

The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial is a monument to U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas, Texas (USA) erected in 1970, and designed by noted architect Philip Johnson.

Downtown Dallas and John Fitzgerald Kennedy 
  •  Open space 
  •  Presidential limousine 
  •  Key locations 

Dealey Plaza
Texas School Book Depository
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial
The Grassy Knoll
Assassination of John F. Kennedy


The John F. Kennedy Memorial was the first memorial by famed American architect and Kennedy family friend Philip Johnson, and was approved by Jacqueline Kennedy. Johnson called it "a place of quiet refuge, an enclosed place of thought and contemplation separated from the city around, but near the sky and earth."[3] Dallas raised $200,000 for the memorial by August 1964, entirely from 50,000 individual donations contributed by private citizens.[4]


The simple concrete memorial lies in the block bounded by Main, Record, Commerce, and Market Streets, approximately 200 yards (180 m) east of Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was assassinated. The block, also known as the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial Plaza, is in downtown Dallas near the Historic West End district, is owned by Dallas County.[5][6]


Philip Johnson's design is a cenotaph, or empty tomb, that symbolizes the freedom of Kennedy's spirit. The memorial is a square, roofless room, 30 feet (9.1 m) tall and 50 by 50 feet (15 by 15 m) square with two narrow openings facing north and south. The walls consist of 72 white precast concrete columns, most of which end 29 inches (740 mm) above the earth.[7] Eight columns (two in each corner) extend to the ground, acting as legs that support the monument.[8] Each column ends in a light fixture. At night, the lights create the illusion that the structure is supported by the light itself. The corners and "doors" of this roofless room are decorated with rows of concrete circles, or medallions, each identical and perfectly aligned. These decorations introduce the circular shape into the square architecture of the Kennedy Memorial.[7]

The cenotaph lies atop a low concrete hill, embossed with squares and slightly elevated compared to street level. Inside is a low block of dark granite, 8 feet (2.4 m) square, set into a larger shallow depression. The granite square is decorated on its north and south faces with the name "John Fitzgerald Kennedy" carved in gold letters.[9] It is too empty to be a base, too short to be a table, but too square to be a tomb. The letters have been painted gold to capture the light from the white floating column walls and the pale concrete floor. These words – three words of a famous name – are the only verbal messages in the empty room.[7]


Two dark granite squares are set in the plaza surrounding the memorial, each approximately 50 feet (15 m) from the narrow entrances to the cenotaph.[9] They are each inscribed with a epitaph that reads:

The joy and excitement of
John Fitzgerald Kennedy's 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 man's life.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy's life.

— Jim Lehrer, journalist[10]