Over 125,000 people came to see the President and First Lady during their two and one-half hour stay in the city on Thursday, November 21, 1963. U.S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez compared the downtown crowds to those seen during a Fiesta parade. San Antonio Police Chief George Bichsel said that it was the largest turnout for a V.I.P. that he had seen. The visit consisted of a motorcade through the city and the President’s delivery of an official address at the dedication of the new Aerospace Medical Division research complex at Brooks Air Force Base.
Air Force One arrived at San Antonio International Airport at 1:30. Accompanying the Kennedys from Washington were Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough, Air Force Secretary Eugene Zuckert, and most of the Texas Democratic Congressional delegation. Welcoming President and Mrs. Kennedy at the airport were Governor and Mrs. John Connally, their official hosts, and Vice-President and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson. Shortly after the arrival, the Democratic Party dignitaries and members of the press followed the presidential car in a motorcade to Brooks Air Force Base. The route took them down Broadway to Houston Street then south on St. Mary’s Street and Roosevelt Avenue to Military Drive. Following the ceremony at Brooks, the President and his entourage went to Kelly Air Force Base, where they left for Houston.
The San Antonio Express-News assigned four staff photographers to cover the President’s visit. The photographers–Jose Barrera, Joe Davenport, Hal Swiggett, and John Tarsikes–recorded the arrival, views of enthusiastic crowds from the motorcade, the ceremonies at Brooks AFB, and the departure from Kelly AFB. These are some of those photographs.
The President and First Lady in receiving line at San Antonio International Airport shortly after their arrival. Behind them are U.S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez and Senator Ralph Yarborough. (MS 360: E-0009-140-B-03)
Crowd waits for the President to get in his limousine, parked below the airport observation deck. Air Force One is in the background. (MS 360: E-0009-140-B-09)
President and Mrs. Kennedy and Nellie Connally are seated in the Presidential Lincoln limousine shortly before departing from the airport. Governor Connally’s shoulder is visible on far right. (MS 360: E-0009-140-B-16)
The presidential motorcade begins the 16 mile trip through San Antonio to Brooks Air Force Base. (MS 360: E-0009-140-B-17)
Near the airport terminal, members of the San Antonio NAACP use placards to inform President Kennedy of segregation policies in the city. (MS 360: E-0009-140-B-19)
At the President’s request, the motorcade stops briefly to receive a salute from the Texas Military Institute Cadet Corp. (MS 360: E-0009-140-C-07)
The motorcade makes another unscheduled stop when USAA employees break through the police barriers and rush forward to shake President Kennedy’s hand. (MS 360: E-0009-140-C-10)
Dense crowds in front of downtown stores on E. Houston Street. (MS 360: E-0009-140-D-04)
James Patrick Rodriguez and his mother wait for the President to pass in front of the Majestic Theater. (MS 360: E-0009-140-D-12)
Jacqueline Kennedy waves to the crowd on the balcony of the Gunter Hotel as the motorcade turns from Houston Street to St. Mary’s Street. (MS 360: E-009-140-D-15)
Brackenridge High School students hold a huge welcoming sign. (MS 360: E-0009-140-D-19)
President Kennedy arrives at Brooks Air Force Base. Behind him are Governor Connally, Lady Bird Johnson, Vice-President Johnson, and Jacqueline Kennedy (not visible). (MS 360: E-0009-140-C-06)
The President delivers remarks saluting the staff and mission of the Aerospace Medical Division at Brooks Air Force Base. (MS 360: E-0009-141-A-04)
Jacqueline Kennedy , Vice-President Johnson, and Nellie Connally listen to the President’s speech. (MS 360: E-0009-141-A-08)
President Kennedy interacts with the crowd following his speech. (MS 360: E-0009-141-A-12)
Maj. Gen. Theodore C. Bedwell, commander of the Aerospace Medical Division, escorts the President to see four airmen housed in a low-pressure altitude chamber in the Bioastronautic-Biodynamics Laboratory. (MS 360: E-0009-141-A-16)
The President and First Lady conclude their brief tour of the Bioastronautic-Biodynamics Laboratory, one of the new buildings dedicated that day. (MS 360: E-0009-141-A-04)
Before leaving for Houston, the Kennedys wave goodbye to a crowd of 17,000 Civil Service employees at Kelly Air Force Base. (MS 360: E-0009-141-D-6)