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Biden's inauguration is unlike any before. Photos show how his ceremony compares to those of previous presidents.

Biden's inauguration is unlike any before. Photos show how his ceremony compares to those of previous presidents.
  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in Wednesday as President and Vice President.
  • Due to COVID-19 and threat of violence from far-right groups, the inauguration is unlike past ceremonies.
  • Photos tell the story of how Biden's inauguration compares to that of previous presidents.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Wednesday will be sworn in as the 46th president and 49th vice president of the United States.

In a break with tradition, outgoing President Donald Trump refused to attend Biden's inauguration and departed Washington, DC, earlier Wednesday as part of an unusual send-off ceremony.

But that's just one way this year's ceremony looks different than the dozens that have taken place before it.

Much of this year's ceremony will happen virtually to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

And due to the violent and deadly insurrection at the US Capitol by pro-Trump demonstrators earlier in January, security, including fencing around the Capitol complex, has ramped up to protect the president-elect and vice president-elect as they assume the nation's highest offices.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asked people not to travel to the city to see the new president's inauguration, a tradition that can draw more than a million people to the nation's capital. From the lack of inaugural balls to enhanced social distancing protocols, photos show how Biden and Harris' inauguration compares to that of previous administrations.

Like previous presidents, Biden will be sworn-in at the West Front of the US Capitol. Attendees will wear face masks and will be distanced to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Like previous presidents, Biden will be sworn-in at the West Front of the US Capitol. Attendees will wear face masks and will be distanced to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
As seen from the West Front of the US Capitol, preparations are made before the 59th Presidential Inauguration. AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool

Source: Insider

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There was no social distancing at the Capitol during President Obama's second swearing-in in 2013.

There was no social distancing at the Capitol during President Obama's second swearing-in in 2013.
In this January 21, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia, is sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. AP Photo/Rob Carr, File, Pool
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When former President George H.W. Bush was sworn in in 1989, onlookers, including Bush's family huddled closely together, mask-free behind the new president.

When former President George H.W. Bush was sworn in in 1989, onlookers, including Bush's family huddled closely together, mask-free behind the new president.
George H.W. Bush raises his right hand as he repeats the Oath of Office during his presidential inauguration. Photo by Corbis via Getty Images
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As part of the peaceful transfer of power, outgoing presidents typically attend the inauguration of their successor.

As part of the peaceful transfer of power, outgoing presidents typically attend the inauguration of their successor.
Michelle Obama at Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017. Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images
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But President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump left Washington early Wednesday as part of an atypical send-off celebration that felt more like a campaign rally.

But President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump left Washington early Wednesday as part of an atypical send-off celebration that felt more like a campaign rally.
President Donald and first lady Melania Trump wave to a crowd as they board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, January 20, 2021. AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez

Source: Insider

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During President Trump's 2017 inauguration, supporters packed the mall to watch his assuming of the presidency. As many as 600,000 people are estimated to have attended Trump's ceremony.

During President Trump's 2017 inauguration, supporters packed the mall to watch his assuming of the presidency. As many as 600,000 people are estimated to have attended Trump's ceremony.
Supporters arrive before the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017. Mark Makela/Getty Images

Source: Vox

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Even more people packed the National Mall for the first inauguration of former President Obama in 2009. About 1.8 million people attended Obama's first inauguration.

Even more people packed the National Mall for the first inauguration of former President Obama in 2009. About 1.8 million people attended Obama's first inauguration.
People watch during the inauguration of Barack Obama on the National Mall, January 20, 2009. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: CNN

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But this year, following the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, the National Park Service shut down access to the National Mall. Nearly 200,000 US flags planted on the Mall represent the people unable to attend.

But this year, following the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, the National Park Service shut down access to the National Mall. Nearly 200,000 US flags planted on the Mall represent the people unable to attend.
American flags decorate the "Field of Flags" at the National Mall ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Source: Insider

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Following the deadly insurrection by pro-Trump rioters earlier this month, the Capitol complex is surrounded by a seven-foot, non-scalable fence.

Following the deadly insurrection by pro-Trump rioters earlier this month, the Capitol complex is surrounded by a seven-foot, non-scalable fence.
The US Capitol is now surrounded by a tall black fence that circles the entire grounds. Kayla Epstein/Insider

Source: Insider

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Despite the various differences, as in previous years, the Capitol was decorated with the US flag. Only about 2,000 people are expected to attend in person.

Despite the various differences, as in previous years, the Capitol was decorated with the US flag. Only about 2,000 people are expected to attend in person.
Congressional members and guests arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration, January 20, 2021. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool

Source: Insider

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In prior years, Americans flocked to the US Capitol to listen to the new president address the nation for the first time in person.

In prior years, Americans flocked to the US Capitol to listen to the new president address the nation for the first time in person.
Grover Cleveland delivers his inaugural address on the east portico of the Capitol in March 1885. Library of Congress/Handout via REUTERS
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Once sworn in, the new president will address the nation in his inaugural address. But Biden will be speaking mostly to Americans watching at home following more than 400,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US.

Once sworn in, the new president will address the nation in his inaugural address. But Biden will be speaking mostly to Americans watching at home following more than 400,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US.
William McKinley delivers his inaugural address as outgoing President Cleveland listens in March 1897. Library of Congress/Handout via REUTERS
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Presidents typically parade throughout Washington, DC, following their swearing in.

Presidents typically parade throughout Washington, DC, following their swearing in.
President Calvin Coolidge rides in a car during his inaugural parade in March 1925. Library of Congress/Handout
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But Biden will have no large parade through DC. Instead, there will be a virtual parade featuring clips from around the US.

But Biden will have no large parade through DC. Instead, there will be a virtual parade featuring clips from around the US.
Washington Metropolitan Police stand along the escort parade route in front of the White House, January. 20, 2021. Washington Metropolitan Police stand along the escort parade route in front of the White House in Washington, early Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

Source: Insider

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As in typical years, members of Congress were invited to watch the new president take office.

As in typical years, members of Congress were invited to watch the new president take office.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, D-Mass., Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, center. D-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wait before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, January, 20, 2021 Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP
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The series of inaugural balls that take place on the evening of Inauguration Day will not take place this year.

The series of inaugural balls that take place on the evening of Inauguration Day will not take place this year.
President Barack Obama bows to First Lady Michelle Obama at the Inaugural ball, January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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The only in-person events this year will be the swearing-in, a troop review, and a military escort to the White House.

The only in-person events this year will be the swearing-in, a troop review, and a military escort to the White House.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter dance at the inaugural ball in January 1977. Marion S. Trikosko/White House Photo
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While Inauguration Day is typically a high-security affair, an unprecedented number of members of the National Guard have descended on Washington to protect Biden from threats of political unrest.

While Inauguration Day is typically a high-security affair, an unprecedented number of members of the National Guard have descended on Washington to protect Biden from threats of political unrest.
National Guards walk from Union Station to the Capitol Building as events get under way for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, January 20, 2021. AP Photo/John Minchillo
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