January 20th, 2009
09:10 AM ET
13 years ago

No sleep for nation's capital

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/20/obama.inauguration/art.inaug.crowd.cnn.jpg caption="Up to 2 million people are expected to gather among the Capitol, White House and Lincoln Memorial by noon."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - The nation's capital woke early Tuesday, or perhaps never slept the night before, in anticipation of the swearing in of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.

People from across the country and around the world made the pilgramage to Washington with the hopes of witnessing a moment in history. Even in the darkest moments of the morning, people began heading down to the National Mall hoping to stake out a spot to watch Obama be sworn in as the nation's first black president. People were lined up from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the base of Capitol Hill hours before the noontime swearing in.

Watch the massive inauguration prep

The visitors were not alone: vendors hawked everything from buttons and t-shirts to "Barack Bucks" - oversized copies of five dollar bills. It was a competitive sales environment as the vendors vied for every dollar they could pry from tourists' hands in this brutal economic environment.

But the briskest business was not the paraphernalia featuring Obama's face or camapign slogans: It was the sale of hand and feet warmers that people were buying to help hold off the chill in this below freezing weather.

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Filed under: Inauguration
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. lala

    This is very big and very exciting!!

    January 20, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |

    Memo to neo-cons and bible-beaters.

    Please note the millions of American citizens that have braved 20 degree weather from 3 A.M. 'til noon. You would be wise to TIVO these scenes, then when you feel like being an obstructionist, review the TIVO scenes.

    Then you can decide if you want to get on board or be run over, but you will NOT be able to stop the people of America.

    January 20, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  3. chuck


    January 20, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  4. lee

    i am excited about our new president but I don't understand why they keep saying africian american or black man. he is half white.why do they not say bi-racial president? it is like they dont even acknowlledge.that part.

    January 20, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  5. Mike O'Brien

    I am glad that I am watching the inaugural at home on CNN News. burr ! Where's the fridge and the food. Great historic moment. Mike in Montana

    January 20, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  6. D

    If Martin Luther King Jr had "...a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character", then what makes this inauguration so historic, the color of his skin?

    January 20, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. White

    Exciting views. We feel the power of the moment.
    However, what is the feeling that exist in the prisons, jails on this inauguration day? Would you like to give a report about it?
    We're interested to know. We thank you.

    January 20, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  8. anousheykhan

    obama has brought change and that change will brought to the whole world .Now its only a matter of time.

    January 20, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. Adam from NC

    I would watch this but I felt my IQ dropping when i had my TV on it. So i put on something far more intellectual to watch ...The Three Stooges!!

    January 20, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. Oh To Ye Barrack Be Praised

    As I left for work this morning, the sun rose! Barrack be praised. As I was driving in I did not get into an accident! Barrack be praised. I followed the lead of watching a woman buying an Obama shirt in California, and bought myself an Obama shirt. As soon as I held it in my hands my body was overcome by a wave of good feelings and joy! Barrack be praised! I know (because I've been told by Bruce Springsteen, Oprah, and Tom Hanks) that as soon as His Almighty takes the oath that everything will change! All war, everywhere in the world, will suddenly cease. All economic difficulty and turmoil will instantly go away. Everyone in the world will instantly fall in love with America again because His Most Holy on High is now leading America! Wolf Blitzer and Chris Matthews will be so overcome with emotions they will disrobe and spoon on the parade route. I can go home now and not work again, because I know that Barrack will wave his righteous hand and no one will have to work again, because only the rich will be taxed and we can all sit at home and collect out government checks. Barrack be praised!!!

    I will now awaken every morning, face DC and kneel. Then I shall sing exhultations to thee, on most Holy on High, Jesus Obama!!!!!

    January 20, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  11. sheena - Canada

    d – get a life. If you cannot understand what this means to so many people in the U.S. as well as what it is showing the rest of the world then I feel truley sorry for you.
    Martin Luther Kings' dream was about opportunity, potential, freedom from oppression – for all people. His dream was about human dignity and respect – for all people.

    I am 57 yrs old and remember as a child watching demonstrations in the U.S. where police were actually hosing down black people. I remember the fight for those who wanted to attend college with white people and sit in a bus amongst other people – not at the back.

    What the American people have overcome from then until now is amazing – and I am speaking of all Americans who wanted change – regardless of skin colour.

    January 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Ken in Dallas

    The sun has risen on a new day.

    January 20, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  13. Norom

    Don't worry Adam from NC- it is already as low as it can go

    January 20, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  14. Sanity has returned

    Bush Begone said: January 20th, 2009 9:16 am ET

    Memo to neo-cons and bible-beaters.

    Please note the millions of American citizens that have braved 20 degree weather from 3 A.M. 'til noon. You would be wise to TIVO these scenes, then when you feel like being an obstructionist, review the TIVO scenes.

    Then you can decide if you want to get on board or be run over, but you will NOT be able to stop the people of America.

    I can't agree more. If you aren't going to participate, get out of the way and let the grownups handle the tough work ahead.

    January 20, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  15. Angie

    This is so very exciting. A fresh new chapter in the history of the US. I'm sure the world is celebrating with us as well. God bless President Obama. We are praying for you.

    I see we have some sore LOSERS in the house. get use to it losers, you gave bush and crazy cheney 8 years to destroy this country, they lied, cheated and murdered. they should be on their way to jail. So give President Obama his time to clean up after ANOTHER dumb bush.

    January 20, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  16. Mohamad Mazlan BOYD

    To the thousands or millions of people making their way to the Capitol, wouldn't it be great if Obama, after the inauguration, could just be driven (slowly and safely, off-course) thru' the crowd and waves at them. Wish I could be there myself, eventho' I'm not an American, but I share the joy...

    January 20, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |