President Barack Obama will be sworn in at the 57th Inaugural on Monday, Jan. 21 and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to flood downtown D.C. for the festivities. WAMU's inauguration guide will help revelers from navigating security checkpoints to finding a spot on the parade.
WAMU reporters will be out in the field on the day of the Inauguration, so search #wamuinaug on Twitter; or contribute to the Twitter stream by tweeting information about the conditions. Use the hashtag #wamuinaug and your tweets will appear on this handy map showing updates from around the D.C. metro area.
4 a.m.: Metro service begins
6:30 a.m.: Public entry points to the parade open
8 a.m.: Security gates open for ticketed parade-goers
9 a.m.: Swear-in ceremony gates open
12 p.m.: Ceremonial swearing-in
2 p.m.: Parade begins
2 a.m.: Metro closes
Huge sections of downtown D.C. will be cut off from vehicle traffic and from parked cars; WAMU aggregated those closures — including the status of the bridge and tunnel crossings into the District — earlier this week and in the embedded map.
Metro will be running extended service on Inauguration Day, opening at 4 a.m. and closing at 2 a.m. They will run trains on a rush hour schedule from 4 a.m. until 9 p.m. Metro officials urge riders to fill up SmarTrip cards ahead of time; waiting until Monday will probably mean waiting in a line of 50 people or more, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said this week.
Three Metrorail stations will be closed all day: Archives and Mount Vernon Square on the Green Line and the Smithsonian station on the Blue and Orange lines. Metro is offering a “What’s My Best Route?” App on its website to help riders navigate without these stops.
Parking fees will be imposed at all Metro parking garages, but will be paid upon a car’s exit from the garage. Payment will be accepted from a SmarTrip card or a credit card; cash will not be accepted. Garages are expected to fill up quickly, so Metro recommends having a backup parking plan.
WMATA is touting Metrobus as one of the best ways to get around the city on Inauguration Day. Buses will operate on a normal morning rush hour schedule and the afternoon rush hour will begin earlier in the afternoon. The agency is pointing to several bus routes that will be best bets into downtown D.C. for the inauguration. Many routes will be altered to accommodate street closures and Metro has organized the main bus pickup locations around the National Mall on this map.
Those intending to walk to the mall for the festivities, these streets are recommended pedestrian routes to the National Mall:
The pedestrian routes have also been outlined on a map from the Department of Homeland Security.
The District Department of Transportation announced that a bike parking area will be made available at 16th and I Streets NW for hundreds of cyclists. Spots are on a first come, first served basis, and the area is still about a mile away from the National Mall, so getting there early will be key.
For Capital Bikeshare subscribers, two corrals will be made available at Farragut Square on 17th and K Streets NW, as well as 12th Street and Independence Avenue SW. Again, those corrals are likely to fill up quickly, so if you plan on riding in, do it earlier rather than later. Six existing bikeshare stations near the National Mall and parade route will be closed starting Jan. 16, so an unlimited bikeshare corral will be available at 13th Street and New York Avenue NW until they are re-installed on Jan. 24 — except for on the day of the inauguration itself.
Tickets are required to access the areas closest to the stage in front of the U.S. Capitol where President Barack Obama will be sworn in. An estimated 240,000 tickets have been printed and distributed, mostly through Members of Congress. Demand is high, so most tickets have likely been distributed, though those in "red" states might still have some luck securing late tickets. There is also a vibrant black market for tickets to the ceremony, though we don't recommend taking that route.
There are five access points to the National Mall for the inauguration ceremony. You can only enter through the entry point indicated on your tickets:
Screens will broadcast the swearing-in ceremony on the National Mall, beginning at 4th Street NW. Information about the exact locations of these screens is not yet available, but it is advised that attendees arrive before the security gates open at 8:30 a.m.
High school, college and military bands, along with military and other groups will march in the parade alongside the newly sworn-in President Obama at 2 p.m., though the parade often starts slightly later than that. Tickets are only required to sit in the provided bleachers. Ticket holders should enter through the locations shown on their tickets.
Doors open at 8 a.m., but ticket holders are advised to allow for extra time.
The designated pedestrian routes for those with tickets to the parade:
The parade is also open to members of the public without tickets along the sidewalk on a first come, first served basis. To secure a good spot along the route, attendees should arrive well in advance of the gate opening at 6:30 a.m.
Entrance points to the parade route:
The National Park Service will have 1,500 porta-potties stationed on the mall. They will run along the north and south perimeters of the non-ticketed portion of the mall, along Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drives SW from 4th Street to 12th Street. Several of the Smithsonian museums will also keep their doors open all day and are welcoming inauguration attendees in to use the facilities. Washington Post has outlined those museums and their locations.
Vendors will be on hand to sell food, but there's no guarantee they will be in a location convenient to where individual attendees are sitting or standing. Bringing snacks and bottled water is essential to comfortably enjoying Inauguration Day.
Weather reports are not in yet, but considering it will still be January, investment in warm weather clothing, including hats, gloves and hand warmers is strongly advised. Temperatures typically average in the low 30s this time of year.
As a security precaution, the following items will be prohibited from the inaugural parade route, the White House reviewing stand and the Inaugural balls:
Signs and placards must be made only of cardboard, poster board or cloth and have dimensions no greater than three feet in width, 20 feet in length and one-quarter inch in thickness. Surrendered items will not be returned, nor available for pickup.
Hardcore Parade Goer
If you're the kind of person with a big "O" sticker on the rear windshield of your car, a wall full of commemorative plates with the President and First Lady's faces, and owned a signed copy of his biography, your priority is going to be getting a spot along the parade route to get the best view of President Obama as possible.
If you don't have tickets (why don't you have tickets!?), your best bet is going to be to head towards the beginning of the parade route. For security reasons, Presidents no longer make the full march from the Capitol to the White House. So your goal is to be one of the first at the security gate at 2nd Street and C Street NW when the gates open at 6:30 a.m. The Gallery-Place or Judiciary Square Metro stations will get you closest to the action, and they'll be open early.
From that point forward, preserving your prized position along the parade route is going to be a test of stamina as much as anything. Neither coolers nor backpacks are allowed, so choose your provisions wisely.
Portable chairs are only prohibited at the Capitol, so consider bringing one to preserve your place for the eight hours you're going to be spending waiting for the parade.
After the parade, make a beeline for the Inauguration Store at 1155 F Street NW to load up on Inauguration swag. Don't worry if you can't make it that day, it'll be open through Thursday, Jan. 24.
Relaxed Parade Goer
So you're not very political or perhaps you went to President Barack Obama's first Inauguration and have lost a bit of enthusiasm for the spectacle. That's ok. You still have the day off, why not head downtown and see a little bit of history?
Tickets for the swearing-in ceremony are long gone, but you should be able to find a spot near a jumbotron on the west end of the National Mall. If you take the Metro to L'Enfant Plaza (the Smithsonian Metro is closed), it's not too long a walk to the Northwest corner of the mall. The ceremony doesn't start until noon, and since there aren't security checkpoints to pass through yet, you can show up later, provided you're willing to be flexible.
If you stake out a spot near the corner of 14th Street and Madison Dr. NW, you can be one of the first to retreat to the warmth, food and blessedly indoor bathroom facilities at the National Museum of Natural History for the interval between the swearing-in ceremony and the beginning of the parade.
From there, it's a short walk to the parade security checkpoint at 12th Street and Constitution Ave NW. Since this is towards the end of the parade route, crowds should be thinner, and you have a better shot, though not guaranteed, of getting a good view of things.
The Jaded Parade Goer
Maybe you don't have great feelings about the President's political party. Perhaps you don't enjoy being in large crowds. It's also possible you didn't even know you had Monday off. Whatever your reasoning, there's still a strategy befitting the unenthusiastic on Inauguration Day.
You can head down to Rhode Island Avenue and have a champagne brunch at Beacon Bar & Grill. They have a special inaugural dining menu, and one might not expect crowds in the late morning on inaugural Monday.
As it gets closer to swearing-in time, you can change venues and get closer to the action at Fado Irish Pub in Chinatown, where you can watch President Obama's speech on the television over drinks.
From there, it's a simple matter of heading to the security checkpoint at 7th and D Street NW if you have aspirations of seeing the parade. If not, you can make a hasty retreat to avoid the glut of traffic that will come as 800,000 visitors leave downtown D.C.