President-elect Donald Trump claimed his inauguration will have "unbelievable, maybe record-setting turnout,"but president Barack Obama"s crowd estimate in 2009 might be tough to beat.

You are watching: How many people were at the inaguration

And professionals say every group estimate have to be taken through a serial of salt.

Obama drew an estimated 1.8 million people to the national Mall eight years ago, follow to federal and local agencies. Planners to speak they are expecting no much more than 900,000 people to to visit Trump"s ceremonies Jan. 20.

The D.C. Room of countryside Security and also Emergency monitoring is planning for 800,000 come 900,000 human being to attend the swearing-in ceremony and inaugural parade.


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The U.S. Armed Forces Joint job Force-National Capital an ar (JTF-NCR), which offers support because that the ceremonies, is expecting 800,000 people.

The share Congressional Committee top top Inaugural tasks (JCCIC), which plans and also executes every ceremonies, is expecting 700,000 to 750,000 people.

And Washington"s location marketing group, destination D.C., is expecting 1 million people, when protesters are included in the count.

Trump"s Presidential Inaugural Committee did not respond come inquiries around how many civilization they expect.

Estimates because that inaugural crowds vary, yet Obama is widely thought to have collection the document for many well-attended inauguration. Former President lindon B. Johnson held the ahead record, illustration an approximated 1.2 million people in 1965.

Here room the extensively cited estimates for current inaugurations:

President bill Clinton, 1993: 800,000 peoplePresident invoice Clinton, 1997: 250,000 peoplePresident George W. Bush, 2001: 300,000 peoplePresident George W. Bush, 2005: 400,000 peoplePresident Barack Obama, 2009: 1.8 million peoplePresident Barack Obama, 2013: 1 million people

But professionals say crowd counts always should be perceived with caution.

"Anybody who is simply saying there to be a million people there without saying what an approach they used, that"s simply public relations being offered," claimed Arizona State college journalism professor Steve Doig, who specializes in estimating crowd sizes.

"Take any kind of estimate v a grain of salt," he continued. "What you must do is look carefully at just how the calculation was done and how transparent the team who did it is around their methods."

How carry out You count a Crowd?

Crowd size estimates are got to using aerial pictures taken indigenous satellites, helicopters and also balloons, plus basic math. 3 pieces of info are needed: the full area the the space, the ratio of the area that is occupied and the thickness of the crowd.

Analysts" approximates of crowd density tend come be wherein they disagree.

In a loose crowd, world stand at around arm"s length of each other, with about 10 square feet per person. In a dense crowd, each human being has around 4.5 square feet. And in a dangerous, shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, each person has just 2.5 square feet come him or herself.



These figures and also this crowd-estimating method are deadline to college of California, Berkeley professor Herbert Jacobs, that calculated the dimension of anti-Vietnam battle protests at the university. Native his office in a tower, the counted how numerous protesters to the right in every square the a plaza marked with network lines and also then multiplied.

Doig calculated before Obama"s 2009 inauguration that as plenty of as 2 million human being could fit between the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial if human being were tightly packed from the Capitol come 17th Street NW and more loosely assembled more west.

After the inauguration, he approximated based on evaluating satellite images, TV footage and also Flickr photos the Obama attracted just 800,000 people.

The 1.8 million number is what commonwealth agencies, D.C. Agencies and then-Mayor Adrian Fenty"s office calculated, The Washington article reported at the time. The nationwide Park business said the company believed Obama had actually the largest crowd ever and also did not dispute the 1.8 million estimate.

The defense evaluation firm IHS Jane"s estimated 1.271 million come 1.651 million, McClatchy reported. The connected Press estimated an ext than 1 million and McClatchy around 2 million.

To attempt an accurate estimate, analysts must take into account differences in crowd density in various places the the Mall. Because that example, far from the Capitol, crowds are frequently clustered in former of Jumbotrons but an ext sparse elsewhere.

And photos deserve to be deceptive. Pictures that are taken from low angles and also show huge areas make crowds seem more dense than they are.

"All you deserve to see is what looks choose a sea the people," Doig said. "It looks much more solid 보다 it actually is."

Who will certainly Estimate Trump"s Inaugural Turnout?

So, that will count the crowd this time? exclusive companies might take and analyze aerial images.

But as for an official count, it"s not instantly clear.

Congress notified the nationwide Park service to stop issuing crowd estimates after the company gauged the crowd at the Million guy March in 1995 at around 400,000 people. The estimate drew the risk of a lawsuit from leader louis Farrakhan, who called the figure defamatory and threatened come sue. (Using aerial images and an easy math, a team in ~ Boston University determined that between about 670,000 and also 1,005,000 world attended.)


The Boston college team that calculated the size of the Million guy March said they do not have a week to preventive to carry out the counting this year.

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And together Doig, the Arizona State college crowd estimator, thought about whether to measure up the size of the group Trump draws, he thought about responses he obtained to estimates he made in 2010.

He obtained nasty calls and also emails after the calculated the size of the crowds at Glenn Beck"s "Restoring Honor" rally and also Jon Stewart"s "Rally to restore Sanity and/or Fear."