Dealey Plaza | grassy knoll

Grassy knoll

The Grassy Knoll and Bryan pergola on the north side of Elm Street

The grassy knoll is a small, sloping hill inside the plaza that became well-known following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The knoll was above Kennedy and to his right (west and north) during the assassination on November 22, 1963.

This north grassy knoll is bounded by the former Texas School Book Depository building along the Elm Street abutment side street to the northeast, Elm Street and a sidewalk to the south, a parking lot to the north and east and a railroad bridge atop the triple underpass convergence of Commerce, Main and Elm streets to the west.

The wooden picket fence atop the grassy knoll, and the Triple Underpass with the highway sign, which at the time of the assassination read "Fort Worth Turnpike Keep Right", as similarly seen in the Zapruder film. The knoll is where many conspiracy theorists believe another gunman stood.

Located near the north grassy knoll on November 22, 1963, were several witnesses, three large traffic signposts, four sidewalk lamp posts, the John Neely Bryan north pergola concrete structure including its two enclosed shelters, a tool shed, one 3.3 foot (1 m) high concrete wall connected to each of the pergola shelters, ten tall, wide, low-hanging live oak trees, a five-foot (1.5 m) tall, wooden, cornered, stockade fenceline approximately 169 feet (53.6 m) long, six street curb sewer openings, their sewer manholes and their interconnecting large pipes and numerous 2 to 6 foot (0.6 to 1.8 m) tall bushes, trees and hedges.

The words "grassy knoll" to describe this area were first used by reporter Albert Merriman Smith of UPI, who was riding in the press "pool car" following the motorcade and had use of the car's radio-telephone. In his second dispatch from the car, 25 minutes after the shooting, he said: "Some of the Secret Service agents thought the gunfire was from an automatic weapon fired to the right rear of the president's car, probably from a grassy knoll to which police rushed." These words were then repeated on national television by Walter Cronkite in his second CBS News bulletin. [8]

Of the 104 Dealey Plaza earwitness reports published by the Commission and elsewhere, 56 recorded testimony that they remembered hearing at least one shot fired from the direction of the Depository or from near its Houston and Elm Streets intersection that was to the rear of the President, 35 witnesses recorded testimony of at least one shot fired from the direction of the grassy knoll or the triple underpass located to the right and front of the President, eight witnesses gave statements of shots fired from elsewhere, and five earwitnesses testified that the shots were fired from two different directions. [9]

Because of persistent debate, answered and unanswered questions, and conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination and the possible related role of the grassy knoll, the term "grassy knoll" has come to also be a modern slang expression indicating suspicion, conspiracy, or a cover-up.

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