Police protect Nick Altrock from adoring crowd, 1906 by Boston Public Library
Not Inaugural Fever as in “escalated to a fever pitch,” but rather Inaugural Fever as in, “Hm, I think I will stay home today.” I’m excited for the inauguration. Right after the Election, I devised just about every possible plan to get down to the Mall, to get a ticket for the actual event on the steps of the Capitol. None of them worked, mind you, because I don’t tend to donate to national politics, or really ever approach my elected representatives about much. I figured, “Hey, wouldn’t it be a cool and very DC thing to do to go down to the Inauguration?”
Yeah. It would be. But I suspect this is something that’s far better in theory than in practice. The cavalcade of news stories about how crowded DC is going to be has cinched the deal. With the Park Service expecting anywhere from 1 to 4 million people, Metro freaking out because they can’t carry any more than 1 million people, yet 1.6 million people are expected. John Catoe’s done everything except ask for DC to close down except for inaugural traffic.
Bathrooms are going to be hard to come by downtown, and by the Mall, so expect long lines just to pee. January temperatures make hanging out on the Mall sound like hanging out inside the walk-in freezer with 1 million of your best friends. Better yet? They’re not letting people on the Mall until after 7am, which means that if you want to get there early, you can’t. So get ready for a huge crush of people in the Downtown Core starting about 5:30am, if not earlier, to get onto the Mall proper.
Have I talked you out of going yet? No? Well think about this. How are you planning to get there? Metro? We covered that. Packed to the gills, it’ll be their best day, and probably their worst, all at the same time. Driving? Where are you going to park? If you’ve got an existing parking lease downtown, I suppose that might work, but I’m betting if you don’t, you won’t have any luck. Bicycling or Walking? This might work best, if you don’t mind walking across the Memorial Bridge from Virginia, or in from the outer suburbs. Live in DC proper (like about half our readers), then you might well be gold, and there’s probably not more than a 5-6mi walk from any point in the District. But remember, it’s going to be chilly.
So, I’ve caught Inaugural Fever. I’ll watch the address and the festivities from my couch, near to my own personal bathroom, with my own kitchen not feet away. I probably won’t crank the thermostat, but I probably won’t have to wear four layers of long undies before going, either. It’s history, absolutely, but do you need to Be There to experience it?