I spent a few days between Dallas and Fort Worth (to visit Fort Worth Stockyards), a part of Texas that is really quite widespread. I would not consider it a very touristy place, but there are some interesting things. Many Panamanians study at Southern Methodist University (SMU) that is near Dallas. We decided to visit the campus of this university where the George W Bush Presidential Center is located. I will not lie and say that I have admiration for this president, as I have in the case of John F. Kennedy who was killed in this city. But President Bush’s center is very well done and interesting enough to be worth a visit.
George W Bush Presidential Center
The George W Bush Presidential Center is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. From Monday to Friday you can visit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon. Tickets depend on the person’s age, with prices ranging from $10 to $16, with adults being more expensive.
As we had a car, we drove parking in a parking lot located just in front of the center. There were many spaces and the price was quite reasonable. You can also park at the university if there is no football game. It is possible to go by public transportation (but nobody uses it in Texas since they love their cars) using the Dallas Area Rapid Transit System (DART). The Lovers Lane and Mockingbird stops are less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) which is a long walk, especially in hot weather.
We were hungry, so before entering the George W Bush Presidential Center we went to Café 43. This restaurant uses organic and local ingredients. At the bottom of the menu there is a list of those who have raised, grown or caught the ingredients. I ordered a salad with duck which was very good. In the restaurant there are also paintings painted by George W. Bush, including one of several cactus.
The presidents of the United States have had their presidential libraries at the end of their term since Franklin D. Roosevelt. The 32nd president proposed donating his papers to a public building. Since then, laws have been created to keep the documents in these presidential libraries that are part of the National Administration of Records and Archives (NARA). These federal libraries have been made for all presidents after 1941. Although some previous ones exist, which are not administered by NARA. For example Abraham Lincoln’s (you can visit the Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. where he was killed) is owned by the state of Illinois.
Before George W. Bush was president, Baylor University in Waco, Texas began making a proposal to have the presidential library. The family has a ranch in Crawford, near Austin and Dallas. Shortly after he won, SMU also began to elaborate their proposal.
It was not until its second term that the White House asked six universities and a city in Texas to make proposals. All had to have a plot of land where facilities could be placed. The University of Texas even had land in Dallas, very close to The Sixth Floor Museum in the former Texas School Book Deposit.
SMU had no land, but they began buying nearby properties, including University Gardens condos. They were sued by one of the owners, but in 2006 a judge voted in favor of SMU. The residents of the neighborhood, University Park, did not want the George W Bush Presidential Center because of the large number of people they would visit. In 2008, SMU finished negotiating the last details between the university and the Bush Foundation. There were several requests against its construction. The foundation set out to raise $300 million for the construction of the library, however they raised more than $500 million.
They broke ground for construction on November 16, 2010. The George W Bush Presidential Center has the LEED platinum certification, which is the highest for sustainable buildings. Inauguration took place on April 25, 2013, with a ceremony attended by George W. Bush and his father, George H. W. Bush. As well as President Barack Obama and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. 10,000 people were invited including many international politicians and dignitaries. With 207,000 square feet (19,200 square meters) it is the second largest presidential library, after that of Ronald Reagan in California. In addition to the library, there is a museum, institute and the Bush Foundation offices. When George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, die they will be buried in this place.
You can enter an exact replica of the Oval Office of the White House. Each president makes adaptations to his style, therefore, the office you see is that of George W. Bush during his time. One of the best things about visiting the George W Bush Presidential Center is taking a picture at the Resolute Desk. Sitting at this famous desk will make you feel as if you were president of the United States.
If you’re curious about what life was like in the White House, you can go to the exhibition that shows how they lived. Barney and Miss Beazley, the Scottish terriers, were very spoiled and popular, they even had their own websites! Sadly, both have already died. They have reminders of when they painted and hid Easter eggs in the White House.
In addition to dresses worn by the first lady and how was a dinner with representatives of state.
What to see
The first exhibition after entering are the gifts that were given to George W. Bush when he was president. The law says that when a president of the United States is given a gift from another international dignitary, it becomes the property of the people. At the end of the term he can keep some gifts, if they are bought at appraisal value. Gifts made by private or domestic persons valued at less than $335 should not be purchased. Among so many things I looked for a gift from Panama. President Martin Torrijos gave him silver cufflinks made of 2½ cent coins.
Critical decisions is an exhibition that puts you in the president’s shoes. They show you the most difficult events during his presidency, including Hurricane Katrina, Iraq and 9/11, so you can decide what to do. There is a fairly large section on 9/11 where the government failed to interpret the information provided. In the Spy Museum in Washington D.C. they put it as one of the great failures of espionage.
The George W Bush Presidential Center also shows George W. Bush’s love for baseball. Apart from the social work done by Laura Bush.
When I went there was a gallery dedicated to the first ladies of the United States. They had very interesting information about these important women in the country’s history.