Just before noon on Wednesday, as Joseph R. Biden was sworn in as president at the U.S. Capitol, a man leaned out of an apartment window on U Street NW and clanged a cow bell. The sounds of joyous screams pierced the corridor.

In a house on the other side of the Anacostia River, in Southeast Washington, India Blocker joined her mother and four children in front of the television to celebrate the end of President Trump’s tumultuous reign in her hometown.

“Thank God!” Blocker yelled. “Finally! A new beginning!”

As the nation’s capital, Washington has hosted every president since John Adams, a designation that requires its left-leaning population to forge a respectful, if not always admiring, view of whomever occupies the White House.

Yet, with Trump, the most polarizing president in recent memory, many Washingtonians dispensed with any pretense of tolerance. Their disdain for the outgoing president was evident on Wednesday as they exalted over his departure and expressed relief over Biden’s swearing-in.

The Capitol was attacked Jan. 6. But Washingtonians have been under siege for months.

“BYEDON” read the 25-foot banner that Elizabeth Ham had special-ordered and laid across her lawn in 16th Street Heights, hoping Trump would look down and see it as he flew overhead on his way out of town.

Ham brought the banner — which notes the electoral college count (306 v. 232) and Biden’s vote total (81,283,485) — to a neighbor’s house, where they watched the inauguration in the backyard. Warmed by heatlamps, they drank champagne and feasted on brisket, monkey bread and pao de queijo.

“Woo!” someone shouted as Harris took the oath and became vice president.

“Libby! She!” Brett Cloninger-West, the host, told his seven-year-old daughter. “There’s never been a ‘she’ vice president!”

“And it won’t be the last,” Ham said.

When it was Biden’s turn to be sworn in, the city’s sidewalks north of downtown were largely silent, a reflection, perhaps, of the blustery winds and precautions Washingtonians were taking amid a pandemic and threats of unrest.

On barren and mostly boarded-up U Street, Ben’s Chili Bowl was among the few restaurants that drew patrons, including Dannon Childs. He compared the subdued emotion of the day to when he attended the second inaugural of then-President Barack Obama in 2013.

“The pomp and circumstance is gone,” Childs said. “The feeling of hope is still there.”

Further west on Massachusetts Avenue NW, the streets surrounding the U.S. Naval Observatory — the vice president’s official residence — were desolate.

“WELCOME HOME,” read two large red, white and blue banners across the street, a festive welcome for Harris, its new tenant.

Outside the house where Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump lived in Kalorama, the contingent of Secret Service SUVs were gone. Two workmen were cutting wood to build moving crates for furniture, including a marble table that had been carried outside.

A few passing pedestrians stopped to take photos.

“It was a beautiful ceremony,” Dina Kawar, Jordan’s ambassador, who lives across from the Kushner-Trump house, said as she returned from the inauguration in the early afternoon.

The $3,000-a-month toilet for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s security detail

Unlike Obama, who liked to eat at Washington’s restaurants and visit bookstores, President Trump’s relationship with the city was almost nonexistent. His infrequent outings were mainly limited to dining at his own Trump International Hotel, several blocks from the White House, and visiting his golf course in suburban Virginia.

Trump earned the enmity of many Washingtonians for that, as well as his administration’s rightleaning policies. They were further angered when federal troops used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear out a mass gathering of protesters in June so he could walk to St. John’s Church from the White House for a photo opportunity.

But the nadir of Trump’s tenure turned out to be Jan. 6, when supporters of his campaign to overturn his election defeat stormed the U.S. Capitol — leading to five deaths, triggering a curfew and prompting the installation of thousands of National Guard troops.

“Good riddance,” said Tony Lopez, 49, a professor who stood on an Adams Morgan street corner early Wednesday, hoping for a last glimpse of Marine One as it transported Trump from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base. “It’s the end of an awful time.”

Greta Fuller, 58, an electrical engineer who lives in Anacostia, typically commemorates the transition between presidents on the Mall, at a friend’s house or at a downtown bar. When Obama was president, she attended an Inaugural Ball.

But as Biden was sworn in, Fuller watched alone in her house, in no mood to venture out. “I do feel like celebrating, but I’m not there yet,” she said. “My neighbors and I, we feel like we’ve been traumatized by the last four years. And I’m worried the story is not over.”

As she watched the inauguration at her house in the Woodland neighborhood, Blocker, 36, a community organizer, said she was wary because of the recent mayhem at the Capitol and the threat of covid-19.

“We do have something to celebrate, but we’re looking over our shoulders,” she said.

Still, she said she felt a sense of relief that Trump had departed, ending a reign that had made her fearful as never before. “What took the cake for me was how he dealt with the virus,” said Blocker, whose daughter was infected and recovered. “He was supposed to protect us, and he didn’t.”

In Woodley Park, Robert and Laura Meisnere months ago expressed their outrage about the president’s response to the pandemic by posting a sign outside their house announcing the tally of coronavirus deaths — a sight they knew thenVice President Mike Pence would see every day as his motorcade passed by.

“HEY PENCE, 400k DEATHS, BYE BYE!” the board read Wednesday morning.

With Trump’s departure, Meisnere, 54, a property manager, planned to remove the sign. While he watched the inauguration on television with his wife, as he does every four years, he said a celebration felt inappropriate.

“There are still 400,000 people dead,” he said.

By midafternoon, pockets of outdoor celebration could be found here and there. At the corner of Tulip Avenue and Cedar Street in Takoma Park, just over the Maryland border, a cellist and violinist accompanied a gathering of people singing “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful.”

The group has been assembling every night on the same corner since March to create a sense of community during the pandemic.

“Some days it was hard to sing patriotic songs,” said Ann Proctor, an organizer who wore pearls to honor Harris’s necklace of choice. “But today is a new day.”

Ivy Valant brought her two young sons to join the festivities, which included a life-size cardboard cutout of Biden and Harris that was available for selfies.

“It’s like a bright light, and I want to share it with them,” she said of the moment.

In Friendship Heights, Jill Diskan, 78, a retired urban planner, drank champagne with neighbors as a friend climbed a ladder to remove black-and-blue, mourning-style bunting she hung on the front door of her house to mark Trump’s arrival four years ago.

For those who could not attend in person, Diskan broadcast her ceremony over Zoom.

At least one participant wore a sweatshirt that read, “End of an Error.”

When Diskan first put up the bunting, after ordering it online, neighbors asked “is everything okay? Did you lose somebody?” she recalled.

“ ‘No, no, It’s because of Trump,’ ” she told them. “My vow was that I would not take it down until he was no longer in office.”

At times over the past four years, Diskan said, she became so angry about the 45th president that she stopped turning on her television. Now she said she feels relief and joy, even as she’s aware that the country’s troubles are far from over.

“It’s not undiluted joy, and it won’t be long-term,” she said. “But it’s a moment of relief. It has just been horrible. Just horrible.”

Live updates: State capitols, D.C. brace for potentially violent protests

Arrests: Here are some of the people charged

Video timeline: 41 minutes of fear from inside the Capitol siege

Police turning in police: Off-duty police were part of the Capitol mob

Exclusive: Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attack that ‘Congress itself’ could be targeted

Attacked with bear spray and their own batons: D.C. police describe brutal and chaotic moments

Unprecedented: House hands Trump a second impeachment, this time with GOP support

Senate impeachment whip count: Where Democrats and Republicans stand

The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning.

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Senior civil servant says ‘all options on the table’

The top civil servant at the Home Office has said “all options are on the table” for the migration system, in response to reports officials were asked to consider proposals to hold refugees in offshore detention centres, including remote islands…

Nearly all Americans are under stay-at-home orders. Some may have come too late.

When six counties in the San Francisco Bay area went under a mandatory stay-at-home order on March 16, it seemed like an exceptional development in the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus that arrived in the United States…

PM: ‘Colossal spike’ in demand causing test issues

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the coronavirus testing system, saying it is trying to meet a “colossal spike” in demand. It comes as the government said it was drawing up a list setting out who will be prioritised for…

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to announce bid for Arkansas governor

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what’s clicking on Foxnews.com. Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is expected to announce her candidacy for governor of Arkansas in the 2022 elections on Monday, Fox News has learned.  The…