Few people, thousands of flags, massive security: Surreal photos of Washington D.C. before inauguration

N’dea Yancey-Bragg


On the eve of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Washington, D.C. is eerily quiet, a stark contrast to the large crowds and celebratory atmosphere of previous inaugurations.

Tickets to the swearing-in ceremony will be limited and a televised virtual parade will replace the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

In lieu of massive crowds, a public art exhibition was erected on the National Mall to represent the American people who are unable to travel to the capitol for the inauguration, according to the inaugural committee. 

Biden’s inauguration plans were already scaled-down because of the coronavirus pandemic. But after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, thousands of National Guard troops established a massive security presence.

More: Nearly 200,000 state and territory flags planted on the National Mall for the inauguration

Bridges into Washington closed Tuesday morning and are scheduled to reopen Thursday, according the Secret Service. More than a dozen Metro stations will be closed through Thursday, according to an inauguration planning website from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

‘Field of Flags’ replaces crowds of people

The “Field of Flags” exhibit includes 191,500 U.S. flags of varying sizes, including flags representing every state and territory and 56 pillars of light.

The inaugural committee said the display signified a “commitment to an inclusive and safe event that everyone can enjoy from their home.”

More than 25,000 National Guard troops defend the 

The FBI has warned of possible armed protests at the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings Wednesday by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, who falsely believe he won the election.

More than 25,000 Guard members are involved in inaugural security and much of downtown Washington has been fenced off.

Although the massive security presence succeeded in keeping violent protesters away on Sunday, the FBI is taking extra precautions by vetting all of the National Guard troops coming in for the inauguration. 

National Mall closed through Sunday

The National Park Service announced Friday that the National Mall will be closed through Sunday except for inauguration and permitted free speech events.

The Park Service said areas near the U.S. Navy Memorial and John Marshall Park, off the main stretch of the Mall, will be designated locations for existing permit holders.

The area, which stretches over 2 miles from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol, is typically packed with tourists.

Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg

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