In DepthWith cars zipping by, squinting sightseers in Dealey Plaza imagine the sound of gunfire as they gaze at a chilling white X painted on Elm Street. Steps away, amateur photogs scrutinize the now-infamous grassy knoll before approaching the adjacent red-bricked building, the preserved site from which initial investigations ruled a lone sniper acted. This historic district—the location of President John F. Kennedy's assassination—is one of Dallas' most frenetic spots. Yet, in spite of all the activity, there's a palpable stillness in the air.

When, in 1963, America lost its 35th president here, ink and live images brought the world to Dallas, etching once everyday sites like a downtown plaza and a book depository building into the popular consciousness. With exposure like that, it's no wonder this modern metropolis is sometimes viewed as a hodgepodge of past events and larger-than-life people—many inspiring and some tragic.

Long before Lee Harvey Oswald became a household name, locals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow fascinated the American public with a crime spree that ultimately led to their Dallas burials. On the other end of the spectrum, nearly 100 million viewers watched the Dallas Cowboys suit up for their record-breaking eighth Super Bowl appearance, making the 1996 championship game the most-watched U.S. television sporting event of its time. TV audiences also saw a hedonistic depiction of the petroleum hub and its boot-wearing oil barons in the prime-time soap “Dallas,” which, in 1980, had everyone asking “Who shot J.R.?”

It actually was the discovery of oil just east of town that catapulted the already burgeoning business center toward high-rolling status in the midst of the Great Depression. As a result, the community garnered such commercial plums as the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, which attracted millions of visitors to Dallas' Fair Park. A showcase for Art Deco architecture, the cultural complex continues to draw crowds with various events, including the State Fair of Texas.

During World War II, other industries like aviation and engineering furthered the city's wealth. More than 600 companies set up shop here over the next few decades; today the area boasts one of the country's highest concentrations of corporate headquarters. Among the most prominent is Texas Instruments, whose claims to fame include the integrated circuit, or microchip, devised in 1958, and the handheld calculator, invented in 1967 and snapped up by the mathematically challenged for $2,500 apiece.

But the steep cost of Texas Instruments' innovative calculating device was a pittance compared to AT&T Stadium's $1 billion-plus price tag. Opened in 2009, the largest domed arena on the planet—with a 72-by-160-foot high-def video board, another world record-holder—is a fitting home for “America's Team.”

Minuscule in contrast to the behemoth stadium, a reconstruction of city founder John Neely Bryan's one-room abode sits in the cosmopolitan heart of Dallas. Eclipsing the tiny cabin are a towering skyscraper and, figuratively at least, a simple concrete edifice just opposite—the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial, funded completely by Dallas citizens in 1970.

While the city will forever be linked to one of the saddest episodes in U.S. history, it also conjures notions of ingenuity, often meshed with characteristics associated with the state—individualism, affluence and sheer size. Moreover, Dallas' moments and people, along with the imprints both leave behind, offer a succinct glimpse at America's past, present and potential.

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Dallas, TX

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.

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Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre

5410 LBJ Frwy. Dallas, TX 75240

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Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront

2055 Summer Lee Dr. Rockwall, TX 75032

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Hyatt Place Dallas-North/by the Galleria

5229 Spring Valley Rd. Dallas, TX 75254

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Best Western Plus Dallas Hotel & Conference Center

8051 Lyndon B Johnson Frwy. Dallas, TX 75251

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Travel Information

City Population

1,232,940

Elevation

420 ft.

Sales Tax

Municipalities may impose additional rates of up to 2 percent on the statewide 6.25 percent sales tax. Sales tax in the city of Dallas is 8.25 percent; rates vary in the suburbs. The hotel occupancy tax is 13 percent.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(214) 744-4444

Time and Temperature

(817) 844-6611

Hospitals

Baylor University Medical Center, (214) 802-0111 or (800) 422-9567; Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake, (214) 324-6100; Medical City Dallas Hospital, (972) 566-7000; Methodist Dallas Medical Center, (214) 947-8181; UT Southwestern University Hospital–St. Paul, (214) 645-5555.

Visitor Information

325 N. St. Paul St. Dallas, TX 75201. Phone:(214)571-1000 or (800)232-5527

Air Travel

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz, (972) 453-4600 or (800) 654-3131, at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, offers discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service

Amtrak's Union Station is at 400 S. Houston St. For train schedule and ticket information, phone (214) 653-1101 or (800) 872-7245.

Buses

The Greyhound Lines Inc. bus station, (214) 849-6831 or (800) 231-2222, is at 205 S. Lamar St.; five other bus lines depart from this address.

Taxis

Taxis are metered. The initial charge is $2.25 plus $1.80 for the first mile. Rates are then $1.80 for each additional mile, and $2 for each additional passenger. Taxis leaving from the airport charge an additional $5 departure fee. Yellow Cab, (214) 426-6262, is the main company serving the area.

Public Transportation

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit System (DART) provides light-rail and bus service in the area. Two-hour passes are $2.50 for local routes and $3.50 for system routes including all DART buses and trains. Day passes are $5 for local routes and $7 for system routes. A 7-day pass is available. Exact change is required. Phone (214) 979-1111.

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