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