By Walter Nicholls Posted November 19, 2008, 8:00 AM EST
WASHINGTON, D.C. How many people can the National Mall accommodate? That's the question District and federal officials are asking themselves as they gear up for what is expected to be the largest inaugural crowd in history. The Washington Post reported today that officials are now preparing for as many as 4 million people, a crowd three to four times larger than previous big events on the Mall.
The best viewing area for the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Barack Obama will be the ticketed space, closest to the U.S. Capitol, for 240,000 people. For the masses, officials are planning extra JumboTrons on the 300-acre, two-mile-long Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue parade route. “The Mall actually may be the best seat in the house. ... It'll kind of be like the world's biggest stage and auditorium on January 20th,” Mayor Adrian Fenty told The Post. In addition, they are considering opening a three-block area east of the Washington Monument to the public that in the past has been used to stage the parade.