In the weeks leading up to his inauguration on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump predicted that the event would feature an “unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout.”
Reliable estimates of the size of the crowds on Washington’s National Mall as Trump became president will likely take days to materialize, but based solely on the images being beamed from high above the inaugural festivities, no record was set.
Far from it, in fact.
WATCH: Donald Trump takes the oath of office to become 45th President of the United States.
While the lawns nearest to the Capitol building were bursting with Trump supporters, the mall itself was sparsely populated throughout the ceremony — especially near the back. Large areas of white could be seen in aerial shots as the inauguration began:
The following two shots, taken from approximately the same angle in 2009 and 2017 (although potentially up to an hour apart in terms of the timing), show the difference from another perspective.
The rainy weather may have kept some people home, but Trump’s big day was never expected to draw as many Americans as former president Barack Obama’s record-setting first inauguration ceremony in January 2009.
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The size of that crowd was estimated at 1.8 million people, which was certainly an aberration.
George W. Bush’s second inauguration drew 400,000 in 2005, for instance, and his first drew 300,000 in 2001. In 1993, 800,000 people watched Bill Clinton take the oath of office.
One way to help measure relative turnout for Trump is by using the ridership on Washington D.C.’s metro system, which is one of the easiest ways to reach the site. You can also bike or walk, but road closures make driving very difficult.
The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, which operates the subway, tweeted that as of 11 a.m., approximately 193,000 people had taken the Metro.
In 2009, the number at the same hour was 513,000. The ridership ahead of George Bush’s second inauguration in 2005 was 197,000.