In order to make it to the inauguration with some sanity, I stayed with some friends in DC the night before. Sadly, there aren't any pictures of Obama here, just the festivities. I never made it to the Mall. These are all parade route pictures. Actually, much to the disappointment of everyone I know, I didn't even stick around for the parade. I just listened to the inauguration and speech, and then headed out. Enjoy!
We got a late start and left just before 9:00 AM. The first thing we noticed is that the National Guard was directing traffic. There was one national guard unit stationed at every block. They formed the no-car perimeter around the event. This is maybe two miles away from the rear-end of the Capitol building.
The Metro was crowded. This was fine because everyone was in such a good mood. People were all joking with everyone. If anyone made a funny comment, everyone in the car would laugh. A vendor had gotten on the Metro and was trying to sell hats by doing an auctioneer's impression. This got laughs all around. I think a lot of the humor was the feeling of community. This was a very odd scene, because most of the time the Metro is a place where you quarantine yourself into your own private bubble, and avoid eye contact at all costs. At one metro stop, the doors opened, and people were cheering outside. After I arrived at Metro Station, it shut down because someone fell into the train tracks. She's okay though!
After coming out of Metro Center, a frenzy of activity greeted me. The coffee shops spilled over with people. Pedestrians enjoyed the lack of cars as they walked around. Everyone buzzed with excitement. There was at least one impromptu parade where people were literally dancing in the streets.
Vendors were everywhere. People browsed and mingled as if it were an open market. Merch ranged from Obama hats, Obama gloves, Obama coffee, Obama neckties, and Arrest Bush signs. People were buying memorabilia and gradually heading towards the Mall (Capitol and White House area).
More vendors. They were side by side lining the streets as far as I could see.
The entire world was in a happy frenzy. This is the best I can describe it: Imagine putting a thousand people on every city block, infusing them with the joy of Christmas Eve, and the excitement of New Years. Then close off the streets to vehicle traffic and let people walk around cheering for each other. That's what the streets were like.
The tents that you see at the center of the picture are security checkpoints. There are detailed views later on.
I thought this was funny...it's a horse emergency response unit
Crowds walking towards the parade route. The parade route cut the city in half, and nobody could cross, which stopped me from going to the Mall. I could have gone via Metro, or walked around the security perimiter, but both would have distracted me from enjoying the event
I saw dozens of people with these signs. Besides these "messages" people were giving Obama, there were no protests anywhere.
The police lines and security check points.
Detail of the security check points. I entered the checkpoint around 10:50.
A picture of me getting chemically sniffed for bomb making material or whatever else they were concerned with. All of the officers were generally friendly and gave lots of smiles all around. I didn't see any of those hard-nosed badguy cops that give the uniform a bad image. Thumbs up to every uniformed service member I encountered!
Getting the bags searched! After I took the picture, the officer said "No pictures!" and I said "Awww but I'm excited." I think he felt badly because he started saying encouraging things like, "That's the spirit to be in!" He said a few little pick-me-up phrases before bidding me a good day. I suppose it's simply against policy not to allow picture taking of the of people in uniform. Going through security took maybe two minutes. Very efficient. Text messages from friends said that people were not as lucky on the Mall side of things.
A picture of the Axent building, hovering over the parade route. I took this picture around 11:00 AM. It was cold but thankfully the sun was out.
Lots of security everywhere.
Media bleachers. Most of the film of the parade that you see on the news came from this location. Behind me in this picture were cameras attached to lifts.
Mainstream media was going through the crowd, interviewing people for sound clips. Most of the responses were stock lines that you would expect. "Oh we're so excited to be part of history." Etc etc
National guard observing things. This camera wasn't big enough for media, so I'm guessing it was part of the CCTV system.
Part of the parade route. You can see Secret Service hanging out on top of the building.
People were climbing everywhere to get the best possible view that they could. I was told several times from police to get down from the places I had climbed up to.
Parade route. This is as close as I could get. The people in front had no intention of moving. They were glued to the floor. It's about 12:00 when this picture was taken. At 12:04, the NPR broadcast that was being played over the large PA system, said "It is 12:04, which means George W. Bush's presidency is officially over." A volcanic eruption of cheer came up from the crowd, as if victory was just declared in the Pacific.
This picture taken around 12:40 was one of my last shots before heading out. After Obama's inaugural address, we decided to call it quits. Previous to Obama's swearing in, I had been walking around which kept my body warm. But I had been standing still for the past 40 minutes, which made things extremely cold. So I left, and was able to get out of there in about 10 minutes. Again, from text messages I received from friends, it took a lot longer than that on the Mall side of things.