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

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/20/2021 Jay Cannon, USA TODAY
a group of people riding skis on top of a building: A general view of the US Capitol before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY A general view of the US Capitol before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol.

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.

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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:

a group of people walking down the street: President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris arrive at the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for his inauguration ceremony to be the 46th President of the United States in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021. © JIM LO SCALZO, POOL/AFP via Getty Images President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris arrive at the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for his inauguration ceremony to be the 46th President of the United States in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021. Kamala Harris et al. standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Vice President Kamala Harris is sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Vice President Kamala Harris is sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Joe Biden, Jill Biden standing in front of a crowd: President Joe Biden is sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY President Joe Biden is sworn in during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President Joe Biden addresses the crowd after being 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. a person standing in front of a building: 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 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. a close up of a light house at night: The "Field of Flags" is illuminated on the National Mall on Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. © Pool photo by JOE RAEDLE The "Field of Flags" is illuminated on the National Mall on Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. a group of people in front of a building: 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 The West Front of the U.S. Capitol is illuminated as the sun begins to rise before the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. a person standing in front of a stone building: Final preparations are made ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. © Pool photo by Tasos Katopodis Final preparations are made ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. a view of a city: 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 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. a person standing on a sidewalk: 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 President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump prepare to depart the White House on Marine One on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump standing in front of a car: 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 Outgoing US President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021. a close up of a helicopter flying in the sky: 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 Marine One with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump aboard departs the White House on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. a large tall tower with a clock at the top of a building: 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 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. a plane flying over a building: 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 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. a large tall tower with a sky background: Marine One with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flies past the Washington Monument as it departs the White House in Washington, D.C., en route to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on January 20, 2021. © BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, AFP via Getty Images Marine One with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flies past the Washington Monument as it departs the White House in Washington, D.C., en route to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on January 20, 2021. a large clock tower in front of a building: Marine One carrying outgoing President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flies past the U.S. Capitol decked out for the 59th presidential inauguration as they depart the White House in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021. © BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, AFP via Getty Images Marine One carrying outgoing President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flies past the U.S. Capitol decked out for the 59th presidential inauguration as they depart the White House in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021. a large building: 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 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. a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: A man vacuums inside the U.S. Capitol ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. © WIN MCNAMEE, POOL/AFP via Getty Images A man vacuums inside the U.S. Capitol ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. a group of people in costumes: 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 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 group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie: 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 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. a group of people walking down the street: President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff arrive at the steps of the U.S. Capitol for the start of the official inauguration ceremonies, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi waits at left. © J. Scott Applewhite, AP President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff arrive at the steps of the U.S. Capitol for the start of the official inauguration ceremonies, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi waits at left. a group of people standing in front of a building: (L-R) Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. © Joe Raedle, Getty Images (L-R) Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. a person wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: President-elect Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY President-elect Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol. a man and a woman standing in front of a building: 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 Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris arrive to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol. a group of people wearing costumes: 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 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. a group of people standing in front of a crowd: 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 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. Bill Clinton et al. wearing military uniforms: 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 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. a group of people standing in front of a crowd: 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 President-elect Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden stand with members of the Biden family during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. a person wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a crowd: Lady Gaga performs the National Anthem during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Lady Gaga performs the National Anthem during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. a man standing in front of a crowd: Jennifer Lopez performs during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Jennifer Lopez performs during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Garth Brooks et al. standing in front of a crowd: Garth Brooks performs during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Garth Brooks performs during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. a group of people wearing costumes: 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 National youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman arrives at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington. a large crowd of people in front of a building: 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 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. a group of people standing on a bridge: 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 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. a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: 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 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. a group of people walking down the street talking on a cell phone: 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 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. a person holding a baseball bat: 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 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. a group of people walking down the street: 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 Vice President Kamala salute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2021. a group of people walking down the street: President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden arrive at the White House after his inauguration on January 20, 2021. © Hannah Gaber-USA TODAY President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden arrive at the White House after his inauguration on January 20, 2021. a person standing in front of a building: 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 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. a person wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: 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 hug as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. a group of people standing in front of a building: 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 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.

Contributing: Michael Collins, USA TODAY

Follow Jay Cannon of USA TODAY on Twitter: @JayTCannon

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What does DC look like on Inauguration Day? These iconic photos capture Biden's transition to the White House


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