Photos

Inauguration 2013: A Ballet of Logistics

This is what it looks like when hundreds of thousands of visitors stream through downtown Washington.

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Jay Westcott

It's 6:30 a.m. on a chilly January morning in downtown Washington, D.C. The pre-rush hour stillness is present, but different. K Street is not buzzing. Coffee shops are open, yet no lines are forming. The only clue as to why things are different lies to the south, where military vehicles guard each intersection, restricting traffic. Today is President Barack Obama's second inauguration, and a security perimeter is in place.

Empty gates at a security checkpoint staffed by the National Guard. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
K St. NW at 15th St. NW, one of the perimeter points for cars. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Half-eaten plates of food for police crews stationed near McPherson Square Metro. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Buying buttons while waiting in line for the security checkpoint. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Buttons from a street vendor. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Reading the security zone map while in line at a check point. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Barricades at Freedom Plaza. (Jay Westcott)
 
By 7:15 lines have formed to the public access checkpoints along the parade route. Four years ago at this time, 13th Street was filled with people from sidewalk to sidewalk. Today, two very orderly lines had formed and people exchanged pleasantries while vendors offered to sell hand warmers and hats. There is a chill in the air, but not like four years ago, when temperatures in the 20s had spectators bundling up in blankets and a vendor selling hand warmers would have made a mint.
 
Scenes from downtown before President Barack Obama's second Inauguration on Monday, Jan. 21st, 2013 in Washington. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Lines to get in the security checkpoint on 14th St. NW. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Buses are used to block streets downtown. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Crowds wait for the security checkpoint to open. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
A street performer on 7th St. NW entertains parade-goers. (Jay Westcott)
 
The flow of foot traffic into the checkpoints is steady and manageable for the police and security forces. There doesn't appear to be a "tunnel of doom" forming anywhere. Back to 14th St. NW and K St., which is normally jammed with traffic by now, hardly a car passes by. This is what it looks like when hundreds of thousands of visitors stream through downtown Washington.
 
Waiting. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Making their way to the National Mall. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Pedi-cabs prepare to help move spectators around. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Long but orderly lines at a downtown checkpoint. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
Crowds wait for the security checkpoint to open. (Jay Westcott)
 
 
People make their way through the security gate at 12th St. NW. (Jay Westcott)

About the Author

  • Jay Westcott is a photographer living in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Politico, Newsweek, and Time.