The historic day in Washington

History was made in Washington, D.C., with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday. Here are some observations from those in the U.S. capital and other CBC News sources.

Notes and thoughts as Barack Obama becomes U.S. president

The National Mall in Washington was brimming with people for Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday. ((Associated Press))

History was made in Washington, D.C., with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday. Here are some observations from those in the U.S. capital and from other CBC News sources:

They made it!

CBC reporter Nil Köksal reports on a successful effort made by those who travelled from Toronto to Washington, D.C., by bus to get into the Barack Obama inauguration on Tuesday.

Inside the event (Runs 2:30)

Even in the trees

A spectator gets a view at the National Mall from a tree. ((Nil Koksal/CBC))

As this picture from CBC reporter Nil Köksal shows, the National Mall in Washington was so crowded Tuesday during the inauguration that people took to the trees to catch a glimpse of President Barack Obama.

"Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions, that time has surely passed," Obama told the huge crowd, which included such people as Muhammad Ali and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin the work of remaking America."

A nice walk down Pennsylvania Avenue

The Obama inauguration was behind schedule but that didn't stop the new U.S. president, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle from getting out of the heavily armoured Cadillac limousine to walk down several blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue just after 4 p.m. ET.

The huge and excited crowd roared as the pair walked, sometimes holding hands and exchanging glances and then waving to people.

All the while, a phalanx of Secret Service agents kept a close eye on the president and the first lady.

— CBC News

The crowd in Washington

A couple, shown at left, listens intently while President Barack Obama gives his speech in Washington Tuesday after he is sworn in. Meanwhile, a mother boosts her son high above the sea of heads for a better view of the Capitol building just before Obama is sworn in. ((Showwei Chu/CBC))
Spectators in Washington cheer just after Barack Obama is introduced as the 44th U.S. president on Tuesday afternoon. ((Showwei Chu/CBC))


The kids are inspired

The kids at Brookview Middle School in Toronto told Christine Birak that they thought Barack Obama's message of peace was needed. ((CBC))
At Brookview Middle School in Toronto, students gathered to watch as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th U.S. president.

CBC News reporter Christine Birak spoke with the kids, who told her that they think the new president is an amazing and inspirational person who makes them feel like they can do anything they put their mind to.

An inspiration to kids. (Runs 2:23)

Website changes right away

The official White House website didn't take long to change. A picture of President Barack Obama went up on the site at 12:01 ET with the title "Change has come to"

"Welcome to the new I'm Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House and one of the people who will be contributing to the blog," the top of the first entry reads.

"A short time ago, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and his new administration officially came to life. One of the first changes is the White House's new website, which will serve as a place for the President and his administration to connect with the rest of the nation and the world."

— CBC News

Taking the oath

President Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday. ((Jeff Christensen/Associated Press))
It was just after noon ET when Barack Obama was sworn in under bright skies and watched by a crowd estimated to be beyond two million in Washington, marking the first time an African-American is president of the United States.

The schedule:

11:30 a.m. ET: Obama announced at West Front of Capitol.

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Inauguration ceremony.

12:35 p.m.: Departure ceremony for outgoing President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.

12:45 p.m.: Signing ceremony in the President's Room in the Capitol.

1:05 p.m.: Inaugural luncheon at Statuary Hall.

2:20 p.m.: Review of troops on East Front.

2:25 to 6 p.m.: The 56th Inaugural Parade travels down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.

8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.: Obama to appear at 10 inaugural balls.


Many in the crowd are emotional.

"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met," Obama tells the crowd during his speech.

— CBC News

Bush receives mixed greeting

Some in the huge crowd booed when George W. Bush was introduced, a Washington Post blog on the inauguration event reported.

"Former Oklahoma state senator Maxine Horner and others near her scolded those who booed," the blog writers reported. "He's still our president," one man said, according to the blog.

— CBC News

To go or not to go

While grabbing a copy of Tuesday's Washington Post, I asked the deskman at the Allen Lee Hotel if he later planned to attend the historic presidential inauguration when his graveyard shift ended. The hotel is about a 10-minute walk to the Capitol grounds, but he said he'd catch it on TV to avoid the unprecedented crowds.

A hotel guest, who returned from a stroll at 4:15 a.m. ET, told the deskman that hundreds of people were milling about outside already.

Teary-eyed from the cold, the woman said she wasn't going to go to the inauguration. But she said, pounding a fist on the frontdesk counter, she'd kick herself if she didn't go.

— Showwei Chu

On the verge of getting in

It wasn't easy to get into the site where the inauguration of Barack Obama was taking place, CBC reporter Nil Köksal reported. Those on the bus that travelled from Toronto to Washington, D.C., were caught up in the rush to get into the site.

On the doorstep (Runs 1:54)

So close, yet so far

Midnight on the big day and we're back on the bus.

It is only a two-hour drive to Washington from Delaware but no one wants to take any chances or to risk not getting a spot somewhere where we can see and be part of Barack Obama's moment. Really the moment that everyone on this bus and so many others feel is their moment too.

The roads are clear now but already the highway signs have a warning: "Expect major delays in Washington, D.C."

We hope time is on our side, but we're still exactly 12 hours from the moment Barack Obama takes his oath.

— Nil Köksal

Finally, we are almost there

The subway system in Washington was jammed early Tuesday. ((Nil Köksal/CBC))

The subway stations were busy early in the morning as hundreds were waiting at the entrance to our subway station in Washington.

Later we see a sign! Finally! We know we're heading the right way.

This is the first sign we've seen in four hours.

We made it to the i365 tunnel. After four hours of walking all over downtown we're told this is the way to the National Mall, where millions are expected to gather.

— Nil Köksal


BeaverTails make an appearance

A tailgate party at the Canadian Embassy featured a well-known food familiar to Canadians — the BeaverTail. More than 1,000 people were expected at the embassy itself so the exposure to BeaverTails should be big.

BeaverTails Canada Inc. founder and co-owner Grant Hooker was asked by the Canadian Tourism Commission in December if he would be interested in bringing the treat to the event.

Interview with Grant Hooker (runs 3:48)