Donald Trump had predicted a record-setting turnout for the inauguration, but indicators point to a much more modest gathering.
As the incoming president took the oath of office, the white panels put down to protect the grass along the National Mall revealed large swaths of open space – a stark contrast to the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds that blanketed the National Mall from the U.S. Capitol to past the Washington Monument during Barack Obama’s inaugurations.
As Trump prepared to take the oath, the thousands who’d flocked to the Mall extended less than half the distance to the Washington Monument. Attendees reported short lines at several security gates. Morning commuters to Washington talked of nearly empty cars on the D.C. subway.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates the subway system, said in a tweet that 193,000 had taken the Metro as of 11 a.m., far fewer than the 513,000 who’d ridden by the same hour in 2009. The ridership ahead of President George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005 was 197,000.
The National Park Service said there would be no official crowd estimate for Trump’s inauguration. Obama’s first inauguration, in 2009, is widely believed to have set the record for most well attended, at an estimated 1.8 million people. President Bill Clinton attracted an estimated 800,000 people to his first inauguration. Bush attracted about 300,000 to his second inauguration, in 2005.