U Street Observer

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Inauguration weekend, January 2009

Pictures and video below from inauguration weekend, January 18-20 2009.

You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obamania grips the Metz-Akhter household...

...and the rest of our neighborhood...

Lots of cars were decorated to celebrate the occasion, but this was the best I saw.

The pizza delivery guy gets into the action

As much as I like it here, I never thought of U Street as much of a tourist attraction. But there have been a slew of recent articles in national publications plugging the area that has changed that, it seems, and during inauguration weekend there were crowds of out of towners wandering around and lining up outside of Marvin's, Busboys and Poets, and especially Ben's Chili Bowl (below).

Ever since Obama stopped by Ben's with Mayor Fenty about about a week before the inauguration (I saw him come out. Ha!), it's been packed, but nothing like the lines of hundreds we saw outside of the place last weekend. There used to be a sign inside of Ben's saying no one eats free except for Bill Cosby. Now it's been replaced by one that says no one eats free except Bill Cosby and the Obama family. Hopefully he'll be a frequent visitor.

Monday, January 19, 2009

On the day before the inauguration, we went downtown to scope out the scene and plot our strategy for the next day. We walked to the White House, and along the way the President-elect's motorcade drove right by, taking him back to Blair House, just around the corner from where we stood. That's twice in one week I've seen him. Unfortunately you can't really see Obama through the window of the car in the video, but we could at the time. You can see how excited Saminaz is at the end of the clip! (Turn your sound up.)

There was a ton of activity on Pennsylvania Avenue right in front of the White House and the reviewing stands that were set up for the parade the next day.

The crowd in front of the Treasury Department, next door to the White House.

The Presidential reviewing stand...

...and the reviewing stand shown from Lafayette Park, along with ubiquitous porta-potties. There were supposedly 5000 porta-potties installed around DC for the inauguration. You saw them everywhere.

George W joins the crowd...

A closer examination reveals he's wearing prison stripes and handcuffs.

Probably not an unpopular sentiment in this crowd...

Death made an appearance as well.

Those are shoes, dozens and dozens of shoes, on the ground behind Saminaz, right in front of the White House gate. How long does it take you to figure out what's going on here? Remember recent headlines and the fact that this is the day before Obama takes office.

Some CNN reporter

It was cold. Really cold.

The media box across from the reviewing stand.

A soldier Marine brought in for police/crowd control duties buys an Obama souvenir the day before the inauguration. I thought that was pretty cool.

Barack and I are close. He's taller than I thought he'd be, but quite personable.

From the White House we walked down to the Mall. There were thousands of people walking around taking in the sights just like us. This picture is taken actually very close to where we wound up the next morning, right near the "Castle" at the Smithsonian (the red building in the picture).

Yes America, that is Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) being interviewed by MSNBC right in front of us.

There were a handful of protesters. I liked these guys the best. Better watch out, you porno-freak sports nuts...

...and rebellious women? Forget about it, you're toast.

I saw Anderson Cooper. Admit it, you're jealous.

Best wishes from Canada

Tons of signs like this around. It's hard to describe just how warm and celebratory and happy the atmosphere in this city has been across the last week or so.

Next stop, the Capitol, realizing we weren't going to get anywhere near the place the next day.

Everything is set up for January 20.

Inauguration Day, Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We headed for the Mall in the pre-dawn hours on January 20, joined by literally hundreds of thousands of others. We made our way over to 18th St. and headed south, circumventing the Pennsylvania Ave. parade route which early news reports said couldn't be crossed. We got to the mall about halfway between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington monument, and headed east toward the capitol.

At the Mall, in front of a jumbotron, about 6:15am. Did I mention it was cold?

A huge cheer erupted when the jumbotron lit up. It was a nice touch that they kept us entertained (and moving a bit) for a couple of hours by replaying Sunday's concert at the Lincoln Memorial before the ceremony began.

Just starting to get light...

Everyone was cold and tired, but you could really feel a tremendous energy and happiness throughout the crowd.

The pictures don't do nearly as good a job as I wish they did conveying just how many people were around us. I can't describe it any better than to say it was a sea of humanity. You've all seen the pictures taken from a higher vantage points above the Mall. By the time the ceremony started, we were pressed up against other people on all sides...there wasn't a square foot of ground anywhere that someone wasn't standing on. You get a better picture in the video footage below.

American flags everywhere, handed out by volunteers before the sun rose.

Finally, the moment. Obama takes the oath of office and becomes President of the United States of America. Right at the beginning of this clip, you can see the man in front of us, who had come with his family from LA, pick up his son so he can witness the event.