Just prior to his inauguration, President Donald Trump predicted huge crowds for his ceremony. Estimates are still rolling in about how many actually attended. Photos seem to show it was fewer people than for Barack Obama’s two inaugurations.
But the number of attendees at inaugurations has varied widely throughout the years.
Due to controversies over estimates, the National Park Service no longer releases official estimates for how many people attend events on the National Mall. It stopped after a dispute over the tally of the Million Man March in 1995.
The U.S. Armed Forces Joint Task Force-National Capital Region and the Joint Congressional Committee, which plan and support inaugural proceedings, will not be releasing estimates, either.
Part of the issue is that estimating crowds is not an exact science, and tallies can be inconsistent.
Organizers did initially say they expected between 700,000 and 900,000 people.
It’s not immediately clear how many were in Washington on Friday, although journalists and comedians offered their own views. (We'll update this story when we learn more.) Prior estimates give us an idea of how many people showed up for past inaugurations.
Barack Obama, 2013: 1 million
Barack Obama, 2009: 1.8 million (generally considered a record for people on the National Mall)
George W. Bush, 2005: 400,000
George W. Bush, 2001: 300,000
Bill Clinton, 1997: 250,000
Bill Clinton, 1993: 800,000
George H.W. Bush, 1989: 300,000
Ronald Reagan, 1985: 140,000 tickets sold, but record cold moved the swearing-in ceremony indoors
Ronald Reagan, 1981: 10,000, according to the New York Times. This was the first year the ceremony was performed on the west side of the Capitol.
New York Times, "Reagan Takes Oath As 40th President; Promises An 'Era Of National Renewal'," Jan. 21, 1981
Los Angeles Times, "Reagan Sworn In; Inaugural Parade Canceled by Cold : Health Threat to Thousands Feared; Public Ceremony Today to Be Indoors," Jan. 21, 1985
Boston Globe, "After 8 years in shadow, a walk in the limelight," Jan. 21, 1989
NBC News, "How big will inaugural crowd be? Do the math," Jan. 15, 2009
Washington Post, "D.C.'s Inauguration Head Count: 1.8 Million," Jan. 22, 2009
CNN, "Official Inauguration crowd estimate: 1.8 million," Jan. 22, 2009
CBS News, "How many attended Obama's second inauguration?," Jan. 21, 2013
NBC 4 Washington, "How Many People Will Attend Trump's Inauguration? Why to Take Turnout Estimates With a Grain of Salt," Jan. 13, 2017
Associated Press, "Inaugural crowds sure to be huge — but how huge?," Jan. 18, 2017
New York Times, "For Inauguration Day, Plans for Heavy Security and Big Protests," Jan. 18, 2017
Mediaite.com, "Trump Inauguration Attendance is Noticeably Less Than Expected," Jan. 20, 2017