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Archive for Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More than a million turn out for inauguration, parade

Bundled people pack the National Mall in Washington for the Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama Tuesday.

Bundled people pack the National Mall in Washington for the Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama Tuesday.

January 20, 2009, 11:43 a.m. Updated January 20, 2009, 11:13 p.m.

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Inauguration Day 2009

President Barack Obama takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.

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Barack Obama will become the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009 — the first African-American elected to the position. Many locals will make the trip to Washington, D.C., to watch the historic event. Others will watch from here in Kansas.

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— More than 1 million people crammed onto the National Mall and along the inauguration parade route Tuesday to celebrate the swearing-in of the nation's first black president in what was one of the largest-ever gatherings in the nation's capital.

The Associated Press estimate is based on crowd photographs and comparisons with past events.

On the National Mall, the crowd stretched nearly two miles — from the Capitol to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Most of the crowd was jammed into the area between the west front of the Capitol and the Washington Monument, where people stood shoulder-to-shoulder as Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation's 44th president. Some people complained they felt claustrophobic.

Farther away at the Lincoln Memorial, people surrounded the Reflecting Pool, and like many on the Mall they watched the inauguration on large TV screens.

Meanwhile, spectators were lined 10 deep in some places along the 1.5-mile inaugural parade route, which began on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Capitol and ended in front of the White House. Most were dressed in heavy parkas and mittens. Hundreds also gathered on rooftops and balconies.

Garth Baylor, 54, a carpenter from Washington, D.C., said no inaugural celebration could compare to this one.

Crowds were so thick that medical personnel had trouble getting to people quickly around the Mall, District of Columbia fire and EMS department spokesman Alan Etter said. Still, he said everyone who has needed help eventually received treatment.

"Obviously the crush of people downtown is making it very challenging," Etter said. "We're doing the best we can."

At a section near the Washington Monument, fences and jersey barriers appeared to block people on all sides. People couldn't find a way out without climbing over the barriers.

The huge crowd on the Mall forced three Smithsonian Institution buildings to close temporarily because they couldn't hold any more people. Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said the National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian Castle and the Hirshhorn Museum reached capacity Tuesday morning.

For many, getting out of the city proved more difficult than getting in.

At L'Enfant Plaza Metro station, a huge crowd waited to enter the station as National Guard troops stood on top of pedestals trying to direct traffic.

"There's no one here to tell us where to go," said Violet Smith, 53, who had traveled from Ghana with her daughter. "They could have done a better job because so many people came."

Three hours after Obama took the oath of office the line to reach the Capitol South Metro station stretched two blocks down the street. Instead of waiting, many people walked to different Metro stops but found long lines elsewhere.

For weeks, officials urged people to arrive early for the historic inauguration and throngs of revelers heeded that advice, arriving hours before daybreak.

At the Virginia Railway Express station in Fredericksburg, Va., chants of "Obama! Obama!" rang out when the line started moving at 5 a.m. for the first train into Washington. Some had been there since before 4 a.m.

"It's so energized, it's just unexplainable. Everyone is just so happy," Cindia Velasco of Los Angeles said.

Lines of riders also formed in suburban parking lots for the Metro transit system, which added extra trains for the rush.

By early evening, Metrorail ridership had reached more than 930,000 people, setting an all-time high for the transit agency, officials said.

Two downtown rail stations were shut down for nearly an hour starting shortly before 9:30 a.m. after a woman fell on the tracks. She was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. It was not clear how the woman ended up on the tracks, spokeswoman Candace Smith said.

Police had projected crowds ranging between 1 million and 2 million for the inauguration.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan's inauguration drew about 500,000 people, and President Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration drew about 800,000 people, according to National Park Service estimates.

Crowd counting has long been a controversial issue. The park service says Congress ordered it to stop doing crowd counts in 1997 after the agency was accused of underestimating numbers for the 1995 Million Man March.

Comments

hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 2 months ago

So now Obama has one million folks to go back to wherever and do community service. Clean up their surroundings. Kinda like a "million points of light", but without batteries only the light comes from the stars.Speaking of stars, Nancy Reagan wasn't there. Her astrologer told her to stay at home. After all, Nancy wasn't interested in hearing about painting and cleaning toilets in public community centers.

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2girls28 5 years, 2 months ago

I do hope that the same dedication and planning is excercised by folks looking for jobs, paying off their debt, and getting off gov't. assistance as was paid to "being there" to celebrate history. The only thing that will change this country is a change in the "entitlement" of many Americans - hard work makes a solid future - not hand outs!

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sgtwolverine 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm surprised this is the largest inauguration crowd ever; the Detroit Red Wings had that many people for their last Stanley Cup victory celebration (and I think they had the same numbers for the two previous celebrations).Seriously, I'm not saying that snarkily; I really thought the largest inauguration crowd ever would have been larger than just over a million.

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jengaman 5 years, 2 months ago

Did they come to send off Bush in fashion or welcome Obama? Hard to tell.You couldn't pay me to stand in a crowd of a million people. No thanks...I'll just watch from the couch in my sweats with the puppy.

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rightytighy 5 years, 3 months ago

I am right-wing and I don't care... really I don't.....

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byebyeBush 5 years, 3 months ago

Seeing bush gone is like taking a big sh!t....ahhhhhh.Feels GOOOOOOd.

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byebyeBush 5 years, 3 months ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KPfDaF1_J0all there is to say. phuck the bible beating paleoconservitives.

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offtotheright 5 years, 3 months ago

You would think a community organizer could have done better!

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 3 months ago

Sure ain't the 2 million the swooning MSM was predicting.

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Confrontation 5 years, 3 months ago

Sure beats the 5 relatives who showed up for Dubya's inauguration.

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