WASHINGTON, D.C. — Images captured of Friday's inauguration ceremony viewing area on the National Mall showed a space that was only partially filled, but estimating attendance based on that view is not so simple. While official estimates of attendance are not yet available, our reporters found that the surrounding area provided a greater context to photos circulating online.
The New York Times estimated that crowds on the National Mall were about one-third the size of those for Former President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009. But, according to the paper, the National Mall crowd in 2009 was only a fraction of total attendees, comprising only 460,000 of a total of 1.8 million attendees in Washington, D.C.
Security requirements had a large impact on the number of people who were able to get into the National Mall and surrounding area on Friday. Crowds extended for several blocks outside checkpoints starting at 7 a.m.
"It was a diverse mix of protesters and Trump supporters," said Anna Cohen, who waited two hours to get into the parade viewing area.
Cohen's friend Anna Garnitz said that some Trump supporters in the crowd blamed protesters for logistical difficulties getting into the event.
"They were also complaining that the line was so long because of the protesters," Garnitz said.
It's possible that some of the sparseness of the inauguration crowd can be attributed to ticket holders who had expected Hillary Clinton to win. Women's march attendee Angela Matt reserved her ticket in August for what she thought would be Clinton's inauguration. When news came that Clinton had lost, she decided to still come to D.C. for the women's march. When we spoke with her, she was on her way to burn the ceremony ticket near the Lincoln Memorial.
Once inside the parade route, we found that many protesters dominated an area near the Trump International Hotel, while much of the route was lined with Trump supporters. There were many families and school groups on Pennsylvania Avenue, where there was a great deal of room for onlookers to stroll. Along the parade route, parade-goers climbed onto planters and benches to get better views of the limo that carried their new president.