Archive for the ‘Inauguration Central’ Category

Inauguration 2009: The Inaugural Rush-Hour On Metro

"dc united fans" courtesy of Flickr user jamescalder

Mass transit- it’s transportation for the masses.

The very definition of the word is going to be realized during Inaugural Day weekend when the millions of people that is expected to come out will try out the city’s Metrorail system to get to and from places. It goes without saying that you might experience some delays. I’m not talking about delays that happen when there’s a Nationals game and a Wizards game occurring at the same time- I mean delays that may just may make you dodge the Metro system altogether.

While preparations are being made which includes rush hour service for 17 hours (4 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Inauguration Day) lines are expected to be long. General advice includes spending more time around the city so everyone isn’t rushing the system at once; and if you live within 2 miles- just walk. Doesn’t it sound scary when mass transit advises you not to use mass transit?

Well for those that are planning to take the Metro should prepare for fees- WMATA has announced that they will be charging rush-hour rates while providing extended rush hour service. For those that want to park can expect a $4 fee. Typically fares are reduced and parking is free on Federal holidays- however this is clearly not a typical Federal holiday. WMATA is raising the fees in order to cope with increased costs that will be expected with Inauguration.

In other news my excitement over DC’s decision to extend bar serving hours to 5 AM has waned with the D.C. Council’s decision to roll it back to 4 AM. The amended bill now only extends the alcohol serving hours to match similar hours done during New Years. Also the law does not supersede agreements bars may have with local neighborhoods– so that means not every bar will be able to stay open late if they have a deal to close sooner with the neighbors.

I’m not too too disappointed- I mean who is really going to be out drinking til 5 AM? I think those that are should be able to cope with the extra hour of sleep this bill now gives them. I can see myself going out til 3 AM- then getting out of there before things get too dodgy.

Earlier I wrote about the Newseum being open for Inauguration and noting it’s advantageous location. Well it appears that now word has spread and the Newseum is now sold out of tickets for Inauguration Day. Looks like you going to have to find another museum to haunt before your 12 hours of drinking.

"DC: Lincoln Memorial" courtesy of Flickr user wallyg

Another item I wrote about earlier was the Inaugural Kick-Off which is now revealed to be a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. There will also be a Children’s concert at the Verizon Center. Both events will be free- check out the Committee website for more information.

With all these events shaping up- where will you go to the bathroom? Well it looks like that there will be over 5,000 Porta-Potties on the mall ready to relieve the masses. While most people would be worried about bathrooms on The Mall- I want to let everyone know that WMATA has also decided to close all their bathrooms during the Inauguration and will also be setting up Porta-Potties where it can outside stations.

I don’t know what will be more chanllenging- finding a way to get there or finding a place to pee?

NGA Half-Open for Inauguration

Lansdowne Portrait*

The Post‘s Inauguration Central has been posting regular updates on building openings and closings on and around the Mall for the big day, January 20.  Today they’ve got the news that the National Gallery of Art will be half-open and half-closed for Inauguration.  This will, no doubt, have serious repercussions on the restroom strategy of thousands of visitors!

The East (modern) Building, all shops and restaurants, and Sculpture Garden including the  skating rink will be closed, but the West Building’s Constitution Avenue entrance will be open.   The West Building is worth a visit anyway:  its Rotunda is decked out beautifully for the holidays!  Plus, they’ve got special Inaugural-type exhibits, including my favorite piece of Presidential art, Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne portrait of Washington (usually on display at the National Museum of American Art just up the street from NGA).  

Speaking of restroom strategy, or educational opportunities, most Smithsonian museums will be open on Jan. 20, although the Smithsonian Metro stop will be closed.

*Photo by Flickr user cliff1066, used under a Creative Commons License.

Inauguration 2009: Should You Take The Obama Way Into Town?

"Acela train sign" courtesy of Flickr user Savannah Grandfather

"Acela train sign" courtesy of Flickr user Savannah Grandfather

We all know that Joe Biden takes the train from Wilmington to Washington DC every day– if you don’t then you’ve been living under a rock.

If you have been you’ve also missed a whole lot more than that.

If you haven’t read my friend’s post from yesterday it looks like President-Elect Obama is taking a page out of his running mate’s playbook. The Inauguration committee has just announced that Barack Obama and Joe Biden will kicking off the inauguration with a series of events being held in Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore. The two will travel by train and will end their pre-inaugural rock tour in Washington D.C. After all, there’s nothing like a little train ride to hype up the already hyped Inauguration. I do however like the idea of spreading Inauguration out beyond the borders of Washington D.C. I wonder if this means the millions of people that will descend upon D.C. this year will try and hit up Baltimore on their way down. They could use the support.

Whether or not you decide to follow Obama on tour before the Inauguration, the only place you can’t be before Inauguration is The Mall. Several Federal officials have announced that overnight camping will not be allowed on The Mall. Also if you are going to try and stake out a spot for the Parade you will not be allowed to do so until 7 AM that morning.

While we are talking about things we can’t do- I just found this Washington Post article that discusses transportation options around Inauguration. It’s a good guide to refer to for anyone thinking about coming out for the swearing in. I’m very disappointed to hear that bicycles will not be allowed within the security cordon that has yet to be determined. That was going to be my strategy for avoiding the Metro. It seems as if walking is the best way to get anywhere- even in and out of the city. I can see it now, a scene straight out of Cloverfield, thousands of people trying to find an open bridge to walk across to escape DC.

Obama To Pull An Epic Abe Lincoln

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"Lincoln Memorial (Washington DC)" by Flickr user ~MVI~

Obama will continue following the example of Abraham Lincoln; the two may be very different in terms of policy, but they match up pretty evenly in style. January 17th will feature a railway trip for the Obamas that will begin in Philadelphia and end in Washington DC. Like Lincoln, Obama will make stops for speeches and events in Philadelphia and Baltimore before arriving in the Capitol to begin Inaugural Festivities. One kick is that Obama will break from Lincolnian tradition by stopping in Wilmington, Deleware, to pick up Vice-President-Elect Joe Biden and family.

The Washington Post reports that the Obamas have not yet announced specific plans in any of the cities en route, but that city officials were making preparations for large crowds. Baltimore Mayor Sheila Jackson could call upon M&T Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, or Fort McHenry as potential locations for speeches by President-Elect Obama.

Once in DC Obama is expected to hold a major event on the National Mall, where he will appear in person on January 18th.

GW To Be Only University In Inaugural Parade

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The George Washington University will be riding a float built by students in the Inaugural Parade for the first time since 1949, when they participated in Harry Truman’s Inaugural festivities. The float is designed to encompass GW’s various schools and colleges. Among the attractions on the float are a twelve foot inflatable globe that will be rotating six feet above the Elliot School of International Affairs section, a live stock ticker in the School of Business Section, students building a mini-Baja automobile in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences section, and live filming of the crowd on to an LCD monitor in the School of Media and Public Affairs section.

All in all, a group of 40+ students and administrators will be riding the float, joined by family members of the alumni who rode the GW float sixty years ago. The idea of the float is not only to represent The George Washington University, which is central to the political scene, but to represent higher education as a whole; GW is the only university in the country that will build and ride a float in the parade.

The GW application to the Joint Congressional Committee for Inaugural Festivities was supplemented by enthusiastic letters of support from alumns Senator Harry Reid and Congressman Robert Wechsler. “The application process could not have gone more smoothly,” according to GW Student Body President Vishal A. Aswani. “The upcoming Inauguration will be a momentous national occasion, and students here are thrilled that The George Washington University will play such a central role in the festivities.”

Congress Falling Short On Inauguration Security Costs

"Police at the United for Peace rally and march on Washington, DC" by Flickr user jcolman

Back in 2005, Congress allocated $17.5 million to cover the District’s security costs for the second Inauguration of George W. Bush. 300,000 people attended those festivities. Fast forward to 2009, January 20th to be exact, and D.C. could potentially face beyond 4 million guests for Inauguration. The only catch is that this time Congress has only allotted $15 million for security.

On an average day, residents and tourists in DC have to worry about the risks of living in a large city with high crime rates; only last night an 18 year old was stabbed in the chest with an ice pick at a Green Line Metro Station of all places and a 14 year old was stabbed as a possible result of MS-13 gang activity.

In the chaos that 4 million people will create by packing on to the National Mall, moving throughout the city, and taking the Metro will cause, security will have to be a priority for a litany of reasons. Simple personal safety, the safety of government officials, and national security only scratch the surface of the policing fiasco that sheer volume of people will usher into Washington.

There are many things that need to be cut back financially, but Inaugural security is not one of them, and Congress should know that.

Inauguration 2009: Renewing America’s Promise

"Inauguration" courtesy of Flickr user martinstelbrink

This week the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced the theme for next month’s Inauguration, “Renewing America’s Promise.“

In a press release sent to DC Metblogs this week President-Elect Obama comments that, “At this moment of great challenge and great change, renewing the promise of America begins with renewing the idea that in America, we rise or fall as one nation and one people.“

While the theme is kinda interesting, the real news I wanted to write about is the preliminary schedule that was also released this week (as released by the PIC):

Sunday, January 18th
The schedule of official inaugural activities will begin with a welcome event on Sunday afternoon that is open to the public.

Monday, January 19th – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
In 1994, to further commemorate a man who lived his life in service to others, Congress transformed the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday into a national day of community service.  To honor Dr. King’s legacy, the President-elect and Vice President-elect and their families, like Americans in communities all across the country, will participate in activities dedicated to serving others in communities across the Washington, D.C. area.

Tuesday, January 20th – Inauguration Day
The President-elect and Vice President-elect and their families will participate in the traditional inaugural ceremonies and events, including the swearing-in ceremony on the West Front of the United States Capitol, a luncheon in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, the 56th Inaugural Parade, and official Inaugural Balls.  Details about the Inaugural Balls will be released at a later date.

Wednesday, January 21st
The newly-inaugurated President and Vice President of the United States will participate in a prayer service.

I think the interesting note of the schedule is the Welcome event- as soon as more details get released on this event I can expect this event to get mobbed as people try and find someway to see the new President. Will this be an event on The Mall? Maybe Obama should take a page out of his convention playbook (and the Pope’s playbook) and hold an event at Nationals Stadium.

Also released this week was a list of organizations that will be participating in the parade. I heard on CNN that thousands of marching bands applied earlier in the year for the honor. You can look at the list that will be updated regularly on the committee’s website. Some of the notable to me include the local marching band from Howard University and the World Famous Lawn Rangers of Amazing Arcola- a weird named drill team that’s partied with Obama before.

For more information stay tuned to DC Metblogs and you can also head on over to the Washington Post who just created an “Inauguration Central” section of the site which includes a live webcam of the construction of stage in front of the Capital.

Inauguration 2009: Newseum Open & The People’s Inauguration

"National Mall" courtesy of Flickr user NCinDC

Everyone is trying to figure out where to watch the ceremony, especially those that are coming into town tickets or not.

It’s been already assumed by many but the Inaugural committee has announced that the entire length of the National Mall will be open for the ceremony. Now any DC local or person that’s been there can tell you- there is going to be no view on the Lincoln Memorial side for it is 1.9 miles long in length from the Capital to the Lincoln. However many will want to just be there just to say they were there. There have been no official word on steps that will be taken to accommodate a full mall which CNN estimates to be 1 million people. Sounds like another million man (and woman) march that day.

"Capitol from Newseum" courtesy of Flickr user ktylerconk

"Capitol from Newseum" courtesy of Flickr user ktylerconk

Another place that will be open for Inauguration is the Newseum, which recently announced that the balconies building (EDIT: The Newseum has told me that they balconies will be closed to the public because the local and national media will be there with their cameras) will be open for regular visitors to the museum that day. The views from the building are certainly going to be a prime spot to view the Inaugural parade since the museum is located on Pennsylvania Ave. You can get complete Inaugural information at the Newseum’s website.

EDIT: The balconies may not be accessible to you but since the front is made of glass- you can actually enjoy a view of the Parade inside without standing in the cold! Also you they will be showing the ceremony on their 90-foot-long video wall.

After Obama is sworn in and the pardae marches down Washington everyone will be getting dressed up to celebrate at a local Inaugural Ball or Party. After the election one of the more high profile hotel deals out their was JW Marriot’s “Build Your Own Ball” deal where for only a cool $1 Million you can use the hotel to host your own Inaugural affair. Well the Washington Post recently profiled the man who spent that money- and will be throwing a ball for the disadvantaged. He’ll be providing tickets, tuxedos, make-up, and even an after ball breakfast to those who are “down on their luck.” He wants to everyone to be able to celebrate this historic event and is calling it “The People’s Inaugural Ball.” I encourage everyone to read the article- it’s a real heart warmer.

Inauguration 2009: DC Bars Go 24/7

Inauguration week just got a bit crazier.

I heard on MSNBC today that the D.C. council has passed “emergency legislation” that will allow bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to serve alcohol to 5 A.M. The legislation will also allow these places to stay open starting Saturday January 17th until the morning after the big day- January 20th.

Personally I am very excited over the news. Councilmen that voted against in the 9-4 decision cited a suspicion that many will be drunk at 5 A.M.- and I fully agree. I do suspect that many will now be partying all night long, and I intend to be one of them.

The move clearly benefits these establishments which can now generate revue for a longer period of time, however it is a wise move to try and accommodate the big inflow of tourists that will be in town that weekend.

While I personally still don’t know how I will ring in the new President, the increased hours have enticed me to make it a weekend I won’t forget… or maybe remember…

What do you think about the new law? Good move? Bad move? Great move?

No More Sketchy Inauguration Rentals!

Hot off the presses at City Desk, there’s a new website in town to replace Craigslist, which has quickly become the dubious blind-date hub of the Inaugural world of room-renting. InauguralHomes.com has emerged as a more logical option, collecting both personal and credit card information to give an identity to those folks who will be renting your homes, along with a more visual, detailed interface than Craigslist to those who wish to rent.

According to founder Andrew Butters: “We’re the safest way to go right now.” We’ll see if the site catches on despite its fees.

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