Inauguration Day Aerial Photo

Up at Popular Science’s website. Why are there these “ant hill”-like communities? I guess I sort of imagined it to be packed down the mall with people. Was it set up that way by security?

Anyways, AWESOME speech! I just about shed tears when he said he would restore science in the white house.

Kevin Zelnio (886 Posts)





16 comments on “Inauguration Day Aerial Photo
  1. Certainly wasn’t optimally packed…
    I had the same impression when I first saw the photo.
    I heard some mention about security and zones, for the mall. Perhaps that explains the population per area, ad the location of the jumbotrons and desire to get as close as possible to the actual events led to the distribution within each cell?

    My entire family shouted and did the “Yes” victory move as if as one at that moment! Can’t wait to talk to my two profs who were there in person.

  2. I believe the placement of the video monitors has something to do with the spatial distribution. I was on the mall in the days preceding, and noticed monitors going up near the points where the crowd was aggregated.

  3. yes, those are clusters of people around jumbotrons and speaker towers. people stood where they could get the best views. and there were barricades controlling entry and exit points along the mall. i’m sure they were limiting the number of people within certain areas for security reasons.

  4. Try attending classes with people who weren’t even born when you graduated high school. Really does an ego good! And Friday I get to spend my birthday listening to the snot nosed… er, that is… NURSE!!

  5. When I went to undergrad, there were four computers in the basement of the Library. When I went to grad school the first time, the computers were at the entrance of the library. When I returned for my PhD, the computer was a library.

  6. I was there, and can confirm that the clustering of people was due to the placement of TVs. I was back near the Washington Monument, and we walked a good deal farther forward but realized we wouldn’t have as good of a TV vantage point as we had back by the monument, so that’s where we stayed. Being far back really didn’t matter…being in the midst of such a massive, positively charged crowd was the real experience.

  7. I concur with Chelsea except to add that there were also discrete entrance points that would close as each section started to fill up. So, for example, we walked from Union Station and, once we realised they weren’t letting anyone into the Mall from the north (except for a few ticketed entrances), we had to walk all the way back around behind the Capitol then west along the southern border of the Mall, and when we got to the first ‘general admission’ entrance on 7th St. that had already been closed so we had to go one further back to the next entrance on 12th/14th St. Once inside we couldn’t actually go further up into the 7th street cell from the inside, and thus we crowded in to get good jumbotron views and a nice center position on the Mall in the 12th/14th street cell. Did that make sense?

  8. Karen is exactly right. There were many thousands of people trying to get into each “cell,” but as each one started to fill up security would shut off the entry point to keep that section of the Mall from getting too crowded. This happened by 7 or 8 am for most of the access points into cells nearer the capitol, and folks ended up moving back west (towards the Washington Monument and even the Lincoln Memorial–look at the people in the street parallel to the mall just to the south, or to the left in this picture) trying to find some access gate where they’d be allowed on the mall. But as soon as festivities started, all the people who had been more evenly distributed throughout each cell pushed forward to the screens and speakers at the front of their sections, leaving lots of empty space at the rear of each section. Which left many frustrated people gathered around the checkpoints looking at empty space in each section that was off limits because the section had been deemed “full” hours previously.

    These checkpoints are obvious as clusters of people along the street just south of the mall (parallel to the left in this picture).

    The biggest problem actually turned out to be in leaving. It took 8 hours to fill the mall, but everyone wanted to leave at the same time. To make matters worse, most people wanted to walk out to the north, but couldn’t because it was shut off for the parade route. A million people ended up shoving each other east and west along the mall looking for a way out.

  9. The clusters you see are assemblies around the jumbotrons. I’m not sure when this picture was take but I was seated near the front and when I looked back all I saw was a sea of people – not in the clusters shown.
    One of the most moving events I have ever attended.

  10. Wow. I heard one group was directed by traffic cops into a tunnel, and then left there. How crazy is that?

  11. I was to the north of the Washington Monument and have been looking at these aerial shots. They are deceptive, in part, because of the time taken – 11:19 is what I’ve seen. Between 11:30 and noon MANY more people arrived at our end of the mall so that, at the time of the swearing-in, there was no open space between the two “circles of ants” to the east of the monument. I have our own photos to verify that. My sense is that people kept filling in the edges of the mall as well. Only one open space between the monument and 14th street was cordoned off. FABULOUS experience. And not a sound during the start of Obama’s speech.

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