Was the Restoring Honor Rally the Biggest Ever in DC?

Andrew Thomas
Glenn Beck remarked during the 8-28 "Restoring Honor" rally that he believed this was the largest attended private event in Washington DC history.

My wife and I attended both the 9-12 March on Washington in 2009 and this past weekend's 8-28 rally.  From my subjective analysis, I believe it can be shown that the attendance at the Glenn Beck rally was roughly equivalent to the 9-12 march, which was estimated to be approximately 1.5 million people.  It is possible that the 8-28 rally had the potential to be even bigger.

All DC hotels were sold out during both of these events.  On neither of these dates were there any other large events taking place which would have significantly competed for hotel space (other than Al Sharpton's gathering of 3,000 people on 8-28, who I am assuming were mostly locals). 

Parking in DC is very limited, and many of the roads in the city were closed off for these events.  Therefore, car and bus access was maxed out.  Most of the attendees were transported by car or bus to Metro stations outside of the city.  At these stations, access is limited to the maximum possible occupancy of each railcar.  Thousands of people stood for hours in interminably long lines trying to buy Metro tickets. 



We drove to the Vienna, VA station at the very end of the Metro Orange line.  Arriving early in the morning, we got into line outside the station while it was still only a few hundred feet long.  Behind us, it grew further than the eye could see.  Four lines of this size fed into the station entrances.  Underneath the walkway, Interstate 66 was a virtual parking lot stretching over the horizon, a sea of vehicles attempting to get to the overflowing Metro parking lot. 

After about two hours, we made it to the ticket machines.  There were five of them for the whole station.  The one I attempted to use had run out of regular tickets, so I had to purchase day-passes. 

Once finally inside the Metrorail, people filled every square inch of space in each car.  With human flesh packed so tightly together, it was a good thing we were all there to "restore honor".



Unfortunately for all of the people who had waited in line for hours at the subsequent stations, there was no room in any of the passing trains.  I observed one brief struggle break out during the trip.  As the doors opened at one of the stops, a man was violently pushed into our car by the crowd of frustrated commuters behind him trying to get in.  Since there was nowhere to go, he shouted in pain as he was crushed between two solid walls of humanity.

The point of this is that DC is only capable of accommodating a finite number of people within any single day, and that maximum was attained on 8-28.   My estimate is that at least one-third of the people waiting in the Metro station lines and stranded on the highways could not have made it there by 1:30 pm when the event ended.  If the maximum number of attendees possible at a DC rally is about 1.5 million, then there were that many at the Beck rally and perhaps another half million who tried to attend but failed.  My estimate might be flawed, but there is no way to accurately determine how many people may have attended the event if they had better access to the city.

Andrew Thomas blogs at darkangelpolitics.com
Glenn Beck remarked during the 8-28 "Restoring Honor" rally that he believed this was the largest attended private event in Washington DC history.

My wife and I attended both the 9-12 March on Washington in 2009 and this past weekend's 8-28 rally.  From my subjective analysis, I believe it can be shown that the attendance at the Glenn Beck rally was roughly equivalent to the 9-12 march, which was estimated to be approximately 1.5 million people.  It is possible that the 8-28 rally had the potential to be even bigger.

All DC hotels were sold out during both of these events.  On neither of these dates were there any other large events taking place which would have significantly competed for hotel space (other than Al Sharpton's gathering of 3,000 people on 8-28, who I am assuming were mostly locals). 

Parking in DC is very limited, and many of the roads in the city were closed off for these events.  Therefore, car and bus access was maxed out.  Most of the attendees were transported by car or bus to Metro stations outside of the city.  At these stations, access is limited to the maximum possible occupancy of each railcar.  Thousands of people stood for hours in interminably long lines trying to buy Metro tickets. 



We drove to the Vienna, VA station at the very end of the Metro Orange line.  Arriving early in the morning, we got into line outside the station while it was still only a few hundred feet long.  Behind us, it grew further than the eye could see.  Four lines of this size fed into the station entrances.  Underneath the walkway, Interstate 66 was a virtual parking lot stretching over the horizon, a sea of vehicles attempting to get to the overflowing Metro parking lot. 

After about two hours, we made it to the ticket machines.  There were five of them for the whole station.  The one I attempted to use had run out of regular tickets, so I had to purchase day-passes. 

Once finally inside the Metrorail, people filled every square inch of space in each car.  With human flesh packed so tightly together, it was a good thing we were all there to "restore honor".



Unfortunately for all of the people who had waited in line for hours at the subsequent stations, there was no room in any of the passing trains.  I observed one brief struggle break out during the trip.  As the doors opened at one of the stops, a man was violently pushed into our car by the crowd of frustrated commuters behind him trying to get in.  Since there was nowhere to go, he shouted in pain as he was crushed between two solid walls of humanity.

The point of this is that DC is only capable of accommodating a finite number of people within any single day, and that maximum was attained on 8-28.   My estimate is that at least one-third of the people waiting in the Metro station lines and stranded on the highways could not have made it there by 1:30 pm when the event ended.  If the maximum number of attendees possible at a DC rally is about 1.5 million, then there were that many at the Beck rally and perhaps another half million who tried to attend but failed.  My estimate might be flawed, but there is no way to accurately determine how many people may have attended the event if they had better access to the city.

Andrew Thomas blogs at darkangelpolitics.com