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What does DC look like on Inauguration Day? These iconic photos capture Biden’s transition to the White House

The United States ushered in a new era on Wednesday as Joe Biden was formally sworn in as the 46th president in an unprecedented Inauguration Day ceremony.

There were musical performances and a speech from the new president, but the nation’s Capitol was largely void of what is normally an Inauguration Day staple: crowds of people.

Droves of Americans did not line the National Mall — instead flags, lights and thousands of security personnel did.

Still, the inauguration marked a monumental transition during a desperate time. The country continues to grapple with a COVID-19 death toll roughly equal to that of World War II. And the memory of an insurrection on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol loomed as Biden was sworn in at the same site.

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The crowd was smaller than in past inaugurations, but there was still a lot of pomp and circumstance.

The front of the Capitol was adorned with large American flags. The Marine Band serenaded guests with patriotic music. The arrival of dignitaries was announced over a loudspeaker accompanied by a drumroll.

Seats were spaced six feet apart as a safety protocol. And what is normally the standing-room-only section was instead filled by members of the news media.

Here’s what Washington, D.C., looked like on a historic day:

Vice President Kamala Harris is sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Vice President Kamala Harris is sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

Vice President Kamala Harris is sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

President Joe Biden is sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

President Joe Biden is sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

President Joe Biden addresses the crowd after being sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

President Joe Biden addresses the crowd after being sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk up the stairs as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk up the stairs as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
Alex Brandon, AP

The

The “Field of Flags” is illuminated on the National Mall on Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Pool photo by JOE RAEDLE

The West Front of the U.S. Capitol is illuminated as the sun begins to rise before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

The West Front of the U.S. Capitol is illuminated as the sun begins to rise before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Final preparations are made ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.

Final preparations are made ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
Pool photo by Tasos Katopodis

The National Mall is illuminated as the sun begins to rise before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021.

The National Mall is illuminated as the sun begins to rise before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump prepare to depart the White House on Marine One on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump prepare to depart the White House on Marine One on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Eric Thayer, Getty Images

Outgoing US President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021.
MANDEL NGAN, AFP via Getty Images

Marine One with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump aboard departs the White House on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Marine One with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump aboard departs the White House on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Eric Thayer, Getty Images

Security is posted atop the White House in Washington, D.C. as Marine One is scheduled to depart the White House in Washington, D.C., en route Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on January 20, 2021.

Security is posted atop the White House in Washington, D.C. as Marine One is scheduled to depart the White House in Washington, D.C., en route Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on January 20, 2021.
PATRICK T. FALLON, AFP via Getty Images

Marine One with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump aboard departs the White House in Washington, D.C., en route to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on January 20, 2021.

Marine One with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump aboard departs the White House in Washington, D.C., en route to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on January 20, 2021.
PATRICK T. FALLON, AFP via Getty Images

Outgoing President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump travel to their Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and will not attend the inauguration for President-elect Joe Biden.

Outgoing President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump travel to their Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and will not attend the inauguration for President-elect Joe Biden.
PATRICK T. FALLON, AFP via Getty Images

A member of the U.S. Army Band waits before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

A member of the U.S. Army Band waits before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.
Greg Nash, AP

President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with Congressional leaders prior the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with Congressional leaders prior the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

A general view of the U.S. Capitol before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

A general view of the U.S. Capitol before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

President-elect Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.

President-elect Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris arrive to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.

Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris arrive to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence arrive to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol.

Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence arrive to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arrive before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol.

Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arrive before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol.
Robert Deutsch, Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush arrive before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol.

Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush arrive before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Former President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrive before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol.

Former President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrive before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol.
Robert Deutsch, -USA TODAY

President-elect Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden stand with members of the Biden family during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

President-elect Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden stand with members of the Biden family during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Lady Gaga performs the National Anthem during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

Lady Gaga performs the National Anthem during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Jennifer Lopez performs during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

Jennifer Lopez performs during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Garth Brooks performs during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

Garth Brooks performs during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

National youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman arrives at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington.

National youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman arrives at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington.
Win McNamee, AP

Poet Amanda Gorman during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

Poet Amanda Gorman during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Robert Deutsch, Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

National youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman speaks at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

National youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman speaks at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Tasos Katopodis, Getty Images

Law enforcement personnel monitoring surrounding areas during the 59th Presidential Inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Law enforcement personnel monitoring surrounding areas during the 59th Presidential Inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Pool, Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden stand during his inauguration as the 46th US President, on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021.

Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden stand during his inauguration as the 46th US President, on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021.
ANDREW HARNIK, POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris escorts former Vice President Mike Pence to the East Front steps of the U.S. Capitol following the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

Vice President Kamala Harris escorts former Vice President Mike Pence to the East Front steps of the U.S. Capitol following the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
Jack Gruber,USA TODAY

President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden watch a military pass in review ceremony on the East Front of the Capitol at the conclusion of the inauguration ceremonies, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden watch a military pass in review ceremony on the East Front of the Capitol at the conclusion of the inauguration ceremonies, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.
J. Scott Applewhite, AP

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala salute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2021.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala salute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2021.
JOSHUA ROBERTS, AP

President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden arrive at the White House after his inauguration on January 20, 2021.

President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden arrive at the White House after his inauguration on January 20, 2021.
Hannah Gaber-USA TODAY

U.S. President Joe Biden walks the abbreviated parade route in front of the White House after Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

U.S. President Joe Biden walks the abbreviated parade route in front of the White House after Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer, Getty Images

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hug as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hug as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
Alex Brandon, AP

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
Alex Brandon, AP

Contributing: Michael Collins, USA TODAY

Follow Jay Cannon of USA TODAY on Twitter: @JayTCannon


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