DALLAS — In 2013, Dallas will mark 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The anniversary is expected to attract a lot more world interest than in recent years. So instead of letting much of Dealey Plaza continue to decline, the Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved some changes aimed at making the historic area more attractive.
Dealey Plaza is more than 70 years old. And the more than one million visitors who come here each year are noticing that this National Historic Landmark is showing its age.
"I was a little disappointed in the first overall impression of it," said Curtis Braley of Houston. "The graffitti, faded paint... not really taken care of too well."
Built as the front door to Dallas in the 1930s, Dealey Plaza forever stepped into history with the assassination of President Kennedy in November, 1963.
With the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death just over a year from now, the Dallas City Council approved the funds to restore the plaza.
"This did happen here, and as a city we need to recognize that and we need to honor where it happened by making it look as good as it possibly can," said City Council member Sandy Greyson.
The Council agreed to spend $934,000 in city and private money donated for the restoration. The biggest part of the project entails scraping, patching and painting the two landmark pergolas that oversee the plaza.
A sidewalk leading to the north pergola next to the infamous Grassy Knoll will be replaced with one that's handicap accessible.
The triple underpass — now blotched with paint covering graffiti — will be cleaned and restored.
And the fountains along Houston Street that were rebuilt in the first phase of restoration two years ago will get more geysers.
Repair work starts in December — another sign of the city's maturation over its darkest moment.
"I think we have over the years come to accept that it's an important part of our history, and that we should respect the memory of that," Greyson said.
The renovations should be complete by next summer, and that's good news to Curtis Braley.
"It's just a big part of our history," he said.