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19 Photos Highlight Uniqueness of Biden’s Inauguration Ceremony

When Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States at noon Wednesday, his inauguration was quite different from America’s previous 58 such ceremonies. 

Authorities enforced security measures against COVID-19 and violence in the wake of the Capitol riot two weeks earlier.

The National Mall, usually filled on Inauguration Day with thousands of Americans eager to witness the peaceful transfer of power, was covered instead with U.S. and state flags. D.C. streets weren’t lined with citizens celebrating American democracy, but guarded by about 25,000 National Guard troops, local police, and federal law enforcement. 

Here are some of the most striking images of the day:

Flags cover the National Mall near the Capitol before Joe Biden’s inauguration. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
A closer view of the flags blanketing the Mall in front of the Capitol before the start of the inauguration. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
National Guardsmen stand ready near the “Field of Flags” with the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument in the background. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
Another view of National Guard troops on the West Front of the Capitol. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
National Guardsmen stand on the Mall near the Capitol before the ceremony begins. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Mounted U.S. Park Police patrol the Mall near the Washington Monument. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Anyone who sought to visit the nation’s capital Wednesday would have struggled to do so, as authorities blocked numerous entrances to the city and closed more than a dozen Metro subway stops.

Airbnb and many D.C. hotels canceled all reservations in the runup to Inauguration Day.

Law enforcement officers and National Guardsmen deploy on Pennsylvania Avenue ahead of the inauguration. (Photo: Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images)
National Guard troops stand behind security fencing near the Capitol. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Those physically present to witness Biden take the oath of office wore masks and sat in chairs carefully spaced in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fist bumps and waves often replaced handshakes and hugs, to limit physical contact.

After taking the oath of office, Vice President Kamala Harris bumps fists with the incoming president. (Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
Guests sit, socially distanced, during the inauguration ceremony. (Photo: Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images)
A view of the socially distanced crowd as President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama fist-bump with Kamala Harris and her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Part of the socially distanced audience on the West Front of the Capitol. (Photo: Patrick Semansky/Pool/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden, at left, delivers his inaugural address at the Capitol. (Photo: Saul Loeb – Pool/Getty Images)

Donald Trump chose not to attend Biden’s inauguration, the first sitting president to do so since Andrew Johnson in 1869.

But outgoing Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, attended along with former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. 

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, say goodbye to former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, on the steps of the Capitol’s East Front after the inauguration. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Waiting for the new president before a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery following the inauguration are, from left, former first couples Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. and Laura Bush, and Barack and Michelle Obama. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., became the nation’s first female vice president and the first vice president of black and Asian descent when she was sworn in before Biden.

Vice President Mike Pence, center, looks on as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor administers the oath of office to the new vice president, Kamala Harris. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Biden delivered his inaugural address from the Capitol’s West Front after Chief Justice John Roberts administered the presidential oath of office. 

As his wife Jill holds a thick family Bible, Joe Biden takes the oath of office administered by Chief Justice John Roberts. (Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

“We have come so far, but we still have far to go,” Biden said in an address that touched on the pandemic, racial injustice, climate change, and political extremism. 

After a contentious election and widespread concerns about voter fraud, Biden vowed to “be a president for all Americans,” fighting as hard for those who didn’t vote for him as for those who did. 

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