Thursday, April 17, 2014

LBJ Presidential Library and Museum – Downtown Austin

(Cedar Creek, TX) Hi 66 Lo 53 – It was overcast and threatened to rain all day today. But the rain held off for us as we drove to downtown Austin to see the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. It’s on the campus of the University of Texas. As we neared Austin we got our first glimpse of the city skyline.

A squadron of Air Force ROTC cadets were performing some drill and ceremony on the courtyard of the library.

I had a nice chat with a couple of the cadets, encouraging them and wishing them luck in their military careers after college. They were really nice, and very complimentary of my Air Force service. (They were so young!)

One of the things I want to do in our travels is see as many presidential libraries as I can. I’ve seen several already, and I was glad to get to check another one off the list. The LBJ Library and Museum is one of the better ones. It covers floors 3, 4, and 10 of a 10-story building on the south edge of the University of Texas campus. Floors 5 through 9 are the archives of the presidential papers and documents from LBJ’s White House years, and are not open to the public. There are many exhibits covering LBJ’s entire political career, with emphasis on the many legislative bills he enacted during his presidential term. He’s highly regarded for passing the Civil Rights Bill, along with Medicare and Medicaid. Not so popular was his handling of the Viet Nam war. The museum was pretty fair in covering both the good and bad of his presidency. Here are some photos we took inside the museum. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)

In the lobby is the limousine that LBJ bought. He used it for transportation around Austin after he left office.

Lots of stuff to read on the walls.

This is one of two walls that displayed portraits of every U.S. President and first lady.

Many displays had artifacts from the 60’s, which brought back a lot of memories for Dee and me. Here I’m watching the Beatles on TV.

Dee is checking out a display of the space program.

On display was one of LBJ’s cowboy hats (Resistol brand), along side one of only three remaining original stovepipe hats worn by President Lincoln. That was awesome to see!

From this atrium we could look up at the restricted floors through the windows, at the files containing LBJ’s presidential papers and documents.

On the top floor (Floor 10) was the oval office, complete with the actual furnishings from the LBJ years.

Next door was Lady Bird Johnson’s office. I’m not sure I’m fond of her choice of interior décor. Smile

Notice the papers on the floor below the desk? Lady Bird used the floor as her filing place for papers after she signed and completed them, to keep them separate from those that still required action.

Between the two offices was this display of Lady Bird’s evening dress, and a setting of the official White House china.

There is a window on the 10th floor that offered a beautiful view of the Darrel K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, home of the Texas Longhorns football team, with downtown Austin in the background.

While on the U. of Texas campus we saw the famous bell tower, where Charles Joseph Whitman, the famous bell tower sniper, shot and killed 16 people and wounded 32 others from the 28th floor in a shooting rampage on August 1, 1966.

After stopping for lunch at a Subway just off campus, we drove downtown to check out the Texas State Capitol building.

We then went across the Colorado River (not the Colorado River that goes through the Grand Canyon) to Butler Park, where we had a wonderful view of the city.

We happened to come across this statue of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, the famous singer/songwriter who called Austin home.

By this time it was nearing 3pm and we didn’t want to be stuck in rush hour traffic, so we headed back to the RV park. It was a fun day, but it’s too bad it was so cloudy and gray. Austin is a beautiful city, and pretty easy to get around in (especially with Google Maps for assistance).

See you tomorrow!


Phyllis said...

I well remember the Whitman shooting from the Austin tower. Hard to believe it was that many years ago.

We've toured only two Presidential museums - Eisenhower and Clinton. Plan to see all we can also.

We've been to Johnson City (first time I tried buttermilk pie, it's to die for!) Also been to the LBJ Ranch a couple of times.

I love history - especially Presidential Just got done reading a book that was written in the 70's by J.B. West who was Head Usher at the White House from 30's to 70's. He was assigned to the First Ladies. Very interesting. Upstairs at the White House. I got it on Kindle. I am thinking it cost .99.

Janice L Evans said...

I find Austin's downtown area delightful. There are several historical hotels. . .friends and I, for a girls day out, would go downtown, sit in the lobby of each hotel, discuss the decor, enjoy the ambience, have lunch in the restaurant. . .a wonderful way to spend a day!

Is it too early in the season to see the bats at the Congress Street Bridge?

Debbie from New Mexico said...

If you get a chance, go see the LBJ ranch. It's between Austin and Fredericksberg. We went last year and it was so interesting. Haven't been to many Presidential libraries but sounds like something that I would put on our bucket list. The list is getting longer and longer.

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Good tour, it is still on our to do list.

John and Carol said...

I agree with Debbie. LBJ's ranch is definitely worth a stop.

Bob and Jo said...

Definitely added this to our list, agree about the LBJ ranch.