WASHINGTON — A vast, excited crowd bore witness Tuesday to a transfer of U.S. power like none before it. The blare of trumpets and thunder of cannon were familiar. The transition from Republican to Democrat had happened before. This, however, was white to black, a shattering of racial barriers finally made complete when Barack Obama made it through a bumbled oath-taking, delivered a momentous-by-definition speech and got back to being his unflappable self. The Democrat who charged onto the national scene saying this was not a nation of red states and blue states, but the United States, became president while wearing a red tie, the Republican color. Republican George W. Bush, president no more, wore a blue tie, the Democratic color. "Everybody is behind him,” said Mikki Hill, 26, who traveled from Winston-Salem, N.C., and marveled at the multiracial multitudes. "Everybody’s come from as far as the Earth is wide.” The racial milestone lent a deeply personal dimension for many in the crowds as well as a historical landmark for all. "I’ve been real emotional all morning thinking about my grandmother and the heroes whose shoulders we stand on,” said Lyshundria Houston, 34, from Memphis. Houston, who is black, said: "They’d be so proud.” Energized by the moment, hordes clogged the scene, enduring below-freezing temperatures. Starting before dawn, with the Capitol bathed in lights, they streamed from jammed subway stations and thronged past parked vehicles and street vendors to the National Mall.
‘I have hope now’More than 870,000 people had ridden on the Metrorail system by late afternoon, an extraordinary number closing in on a record. A flea-market atmosphere prevailed on downtown streets, with white tents set up to sell Obama T-shirts and mugs as well as food, bottled water, snacks, scarves and footwarmers. The scent of grilled sausages and steaming Chinese food greeted those who walked toward the parade route. Real estate appraiser Denise Grandberry of St. Louis stood near the National Mall with her niece Murphy and daughter Nikki and talked about all the foreclosed homes she’s seen in her work. "I’ve seen the remnants of peoples’ lives,” she said. "I have hope now and I think the nation has hope.”
INAUGURAL TURNOUTMore than 1 million show up Not long after Barack Obama’s election as president, as people from across the country requested tickets for the swearing-in ceremony, city officials in Washington predicted that as many as 4 million people might come for the historic inauguration. Those estimates were lowered in recent weeks. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that security officials estimated the crowd at 1.8 million. The Associated Press reported more than 1 million people were on the National Mall and on the parade route. Chris Casteel, Washington Bureau