Early predictions for the attendance at the inauguration had gone as high as five million:
In an off-hand moment six weeks ago, District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty tossed out a guess of three to five million.
President Bush, at the urging of the mayor, had to declare an emergency to get enough federal money to handle the anticipated crowds.
Of course, "official" crowd estimates are typically inflated for political purposes. Remember the "Million Man March"? When the National Park Service estimated the crowd at less than half of the titular number, the organizers threatened to sue. These days, the National Park Service refuses to issue crowd numbers, but just for this historic inauguration, they decided to accept an AP estimate of a "record number" of over 1.2 million as a reasonable guess (probably to avoid getting sued again).
A more scientific approach came up with a somewhat smaller number, making it completely unacceptable...
An ASU journalism professor using satellite images calculated that 800,000 people attended President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony.
Variety reports that Nielsen ratings clearly demonstrate that Obama's inauguration is the most watched in the history of our great nation... since Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1981.
By the way, American Idol also beat Obama on Tuesday.
Instapundit has been collecting links regarding these near historic numbers:
I think it's safe to say that this inauguration has generated historic levels of blog coverage. (Numbers, please!) I mean, how many bloggers covered Reagan's inauguration back in 1981? I think I updated my finger .plan, but I had only a couple of work friends who might have noticed. Now the whole world is watching... and googling.