It was surreal to go to the Women’s March today after going into work the day before. On Inauguration Day, a lot of the city was dead. I’ve never seen so few people on the Metro at 8am on a weekday. There were certainly pockets of activity, the much publicized riot that happened in about two city blocks downtown, but even milling about afterwards with some photography friends, most of what I saw was fences with pockets of rich people attending the various balls and pockets of protesters screaming at them.
Today was completely different. The last time I saw this many people pouring into the city was perhaps this time in 2009. When I exited Union Station at 9am there were hundreds of people just wandering about with their signs at a Metro stop a 20 minute walk from the Women’s March rally. Thousands upon thousands gathered at Independence Ave and I was in awe as the street kept filling to the brim from the Capitol to the Monument. That was the official gathering point for the march, but I never got to the rally because it was full before I ever got there. As my friend Mark and I left Independence Ave it kept going and going.
At some point people started marching. I have no idea if it was the actual march since there were so many people. The police directed the marchers in several different directions. The river of people we followed went down Constitution to the Lincoln Memorial and all the way around and then off somewhere else. Asking the policeman there he said he had no idea when it stopped.
We doubled back and walked with a stream going up 18th past the White House. The flow diverged again with a fork at H St. Eventually we had to stop for a late lunch and were amazed at the live coverage showing all the people in the streets. When we left again there was still a steady stream going up Connecticut.
In all of this people were kind and considerate. It was the most peaceful gathering of people I have ever seen in my life, and after a week of seeing some heated altercations it was uplifting to see the mass SO SO outweigh the actions of a few.
I am eternally glad for the UnPresidented project as it got me out the door of my apartment and see what this city looks like for real on this moment in history.