The election is over (thank goodness) and Washingtonians can go about their lives once more. For a while at least until Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Inaugurations have been a big deal in Washington since John F. Kennedy (above) drew 500,000 in 1961.That number probably would have been larger, but it snowed seven inches the night before. Indeed, the National Guard cleared Pennsylvania Ave. for the parade using flame throwers. Imagine that happening today.
Of the 23 inaugural crowds I could find counts, the top 12 have come since Kennedy. And while Barack Obama’s massive 2009 crowd was 1.9 million by some counters while others dispute it was twice that, it’s still the largest inauguration ever. His second inauguration was unofficially 1 million, which would rank third behind Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 swearing-in.
Of course, crowd counts are relative to the nation’s and city’s size. Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural in 1861 was 30,000. Considering the city’s population was 20,000, that’s pretty impressive.
Ronald Reagan’s 500,000 in 1981 was the largest Republican inaugural. His second doesn’t have a number because frigid conditions forced the ceremony indoors and cancellation of the parade. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1945 ceremony was inside the White House because of his failing health.
Here are crowd counts based on newspaper reports.