Sunday, January 11, 2009

Obama's inauguration: Parades (and normal life) on Pennsylvania Ave. #inaug09

This morning, if you happened to be on Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington D.C., you would have been treated to a practice session of the parade for Barack Obama's inauguration. Marching bands and military processions were preparing for the big day.

See photos put up by the inauguration committee

Pennsylvania Ave. is a special avenue in the nation's capital, known as America's main street. It's well known that from around the White House, you can look down Pennsylvania Ave towards Capitol Hill, the executive branch and the legislative branch keeping an eye of each other (although reportedly can't see the Capitol from White House, I've read). On Inauguration Day, about a one-mile stretch of Pennsylvania will be lined with hundreds of thousands if not much more as Barack Obama parades from the Capitol Hill to the White House.

Some insight from Wikipedia

Although Pennsylvania Avenue extends seven miles, the expanse between the White House and the Capitol constitutes the ceremonial heart of the nation. Washington called this stretch "most magnificent & most convenient" and it has served the country well. At one time, Pennsylvania Avenue provided an unobstructed view between the White House and the Capitol. The construction of an expansion to the Treasury Building blocked this view and supposedly President Andrew Jackson did this on purpose.

While Pennsylvania is the avenue of America, it's used quite often for very local events. On many a weekend in the summer, festivals are often held between 3rd Street NW and 6th Street NW.

Also, a few museums are on this route, as is the Newseum and, my favourite, the FBI building on 9th Street and Pennsylvania. Canada's own embassy, located on the north side between 3rd Street and 4th Street has one of the best addresses and views.

Here's a picture I took during the past summer on the roof of the Newseum looking at Capitol Hill. You can see the street festival below and Canada's embassy to the left.

I connect with the street quite often. When I come to DC every three weeks or so, I emerge from a Metro station right on the avenue. During my runs around Washington, I always being them down Pennsylvania Ave on may way to the Capitol side of the Mall. Runners all over this city cross its path as they reach their daily running route. At first, you get kinda excited that you're running in such an important path.

Last September, I raced a 5K road race held by the National Press Club. We started from the Press Club building on to Pennsylvania. It was a Sunday and I remember wishing how they'd had more trees on this wide avenue to provide shade from the sun.

It was quite a rush running down America's Avenue, and maybe it helped, as even on a humid and hot DC day, running on magistic land where others paraded down in history, I ran my fastest miles and set a personal record for the distance (route). Maybe it was just lucky or maybe something about that avenue raises your expectations.

Cross posted at

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