National Mall Will Open to Public for Inauguration

Created: December 04, 2008 12:09 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

It looks like the millions of people expected to descend on Washington next month without a ticket for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration will be able to watch the ceremony after all.

The Presidential Inaugural Commission announced today that the entire national mall, from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, will be open to the public on Inauguration Day. Large screens will be set up along the Mall to allow to allow those in attendance to see and hear the event.

According to the press release, this is the first time the Mall, which is traditionally used as a staging ground for the inaugural parade, will be used to accomodate those who wish to watch the ceremony.

The Washington Post reported last month that the city and federal governments are preparing for up to four million people to flood the District of Columbia for the festivities.

With the mall open, there might just be room enough to accommodate everyone, but it will be tight. According to CNN, if 5 million people show up, each person would have about one square foot of ground to stand on. If you’re planning on coming to Washington for the big day, be prepared to get cozy with your neighbors!

Here is the full press release


WASHINGTON, DC — In keeping with its pledge to make the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama one of the most open and accessible in history, the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) announced today that, for the first time, the entire length of the National Mall will be opened to the public so that more people than ever before will be able to witness the swearing-in of the President from a vantage point in sight of the Capitol.

The PIC has worked closely with officials from the District of Columbia government, the National Park Service, the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (AFIC), and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) to make space at this historic location available to members of the public who are unable to obtain tickets to the swearing-in. Those who come to witness the swearing-in on the Mall will be able to watch and listen to the ceremony on large screens that will be provided by the PIC along the Mall.

“We’re grateful to local, federal, and military officials for their efforts to open up the National Mall to Americans who want to participate in this historic occasion,” said PIC Executive Director Emmett S. Beliveau. “These arrangements represent our committee’s continuing commitment to make next year’s historic inauguration as accessible as possible to citizens in Washington, D.C., and across the country.”

“This will be an Inauguration for all Americans,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “And so we are dedicated to opening it up so that people from across the country can gather together in America’s front yard. We remain hard at work to ensure the day’s festivities are safe and accessible for visitors, residents, and businesses alike.”

In the past, the National Mall has been used as a staging area for participants in the inaugural parade. But in response to early indications that more Americans than usual may travel to Washington to join in celebration of our shared values and common purpose, officials have worked tirelessly in recent weeks to relocate the parade staging area. Inaugural parade participants will be announced next week.

In the coming days and weeks, the PIC will release further information about viewing the inauguration from the National Mall and other inaugural events. For updates, please visit our website at