WASHINGTON (WSVN) — Before taking the oath of office, Donald Trump boasted his inauguration would have “an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout.” But if aerial photos and videos from the inauguration ceremony are to be believed, attendance appeared to be more modest than previous years.
Inauguration attendants heard consistent warnings from public officials and transportation authorities about the potential for long security lines and packed trains and buses.
However, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said that, as of 11 a.m., 193,000 took public transportation for Friday’s inauguration, versus 513,000 at the same time for President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. It should be noted that Obama’s second inauguration in 2013 saw its numbers slip to 317,000. WMATA counted 197,000 for George W. Bush’s 2005 inauguration.
Weather reports indicated that Inauguration Day in the nation’s capital would be cold and damp, with rain forecasted during the ceremony. Indeed, rain did bein to fall just before President Trump took the oath of office. Attendees were not permitted to carry umbrellas into any ticketed areas on the Capitol grounds, but due to the forecast, the National Park Service revised its usual policy, allowing small, collapsible umbrellas on the parade route and National Mall. With high temperatures estimated to be in the 40s, the soggy weather could have very well been one deciding factor in the size of the crowd.
As thousands gathered on the Mall, crowds extended about halfway between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument. Large areas of open space could be seen during coverage of Trump’s oath of office. It was a stark contrast to Obama’s first inauguration, which had an estimated 1.8 million in attendance. That 2008 inauguration is believed to be the largest inaugural crowd in history, with photos showing shoulder-to-shoulder packed crowds extending even past the Washington Monument.
Official counts are no longer released. According to the Associated Press, the National Park Service had previously provided official crowd estimates for events on the National Mall, but stopped after the 1995’s Million Man March. While the park service estimated the crowd then to have reached 400,000, march organizers, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, disputed the number and claimed they had reached their attendance goal of 1 million. Organizers threatened to sue the park service, claiming the low count was racially motivated. While no lawsuit was ever filed, the dispute ended the practice of attendance estimations.
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