WASHINGTON -- More than 1 million people crammed onto the National Mall and along the Pennsylvania Avenue inauguration parade route Tuesday to witness the swearing-in of the nation's first black president.
The Associated Press estimated the number based on crowd photographs and comparisons with past events.
People stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the Washington Monument, about 14 blocks away from the Capitol. The crowd was so tightly packed that some people complained they felt claustrophobic. Further away, people surrounded the Reflecting Pool, watching the inauguration of Barack Obama on large TV screens.
Local police had projected inaugural crowds between 1 million and 2 million. Planners say attendance could have easily topped the 1.2 million people who were at Lyndon B. Johnson's 1965 inauguration, the largest crowd the National Park Service has on record.
City and local planners have consistently warned visitors that they could expect extensive transportation delays.
A Lot of Brave Souls
A lot of people braved single-digit temperatures to make sure they didn't get turned away.
People who arrived early for the inauguration jammed the National Mall for much of Monday, but then a security sweep ushered them all out and left an eerie emptiness.
But a few hardy souls willing to stay up the entire night managed to make it past all the security to get the earliest positions.
Megan Hawkes traveled all the way from Old Orchard Beach, Maine, to attend the historic event.
"I would have been here three days ago, standing out here if I needed to," she said.
"We're Living And Breathing History"
College students Justine Abrams and Danielle Schroeder were huddled with Army Sergeant Ron Huff, whom they'd just met, over the only grate emitting warm steam. But it was history that made them pull the all-nighter.
"We're living and breathing history right now," Sgt. Huff told CBN News.
"We're never going to get this chance again. Never," Schroeder said.
Thurgood Coats is a resident of Obama's hometown of Chicago.
"I wanted to look at this 50 years from now and have the big crowd and point out I was there, I was able to witness it," Coats explained.
Every African American CBN News spoke to takes Obama's inauguration quite personally.
"I have a bi-racial daughter, and it means everything," said Calvin Cooper Jr. of Poughkeepsie, NY. "I can look at my kid and truly tell her that you can actually do anything."
"For all the young kids out there like my cousins and what not, they can aspire to be anything they want to be in life," said Cameron Rojec, of San Diego, Calif.