When George Washington was sworn in as the first U.S. president in 1789, he made history in the nation’s then capital: New York City. The inauguration soon migrated to Philadelphia and, of course, Washington, D.C. But for those of us who won’t be on Capitol Hill on January 20 for Barack Obama’s inauguration, New York is still the perfect place to welcome our new president. Even better, you won’t have to shiver or crane your neck to see history in the making.
The main event is at City Hall, where lucky ticket holders will be watching on big-screen TVs. But with the free passes having been snapped up two weeks before the event, consider instead viewing the inauguration a few blocks away at Trinity Church, where an 11am screening of the ceremony will conclude with a prayer and hymn. The church will ring in the arrival of the Obama administration with a full peal.
After November’s historic election of our first African-American president, Harlem was understandably jubilant. The Harlem Armory will maintain the neighborhood’s joyous spirit with a three-hour program called “Inauguration of a DREAM: A Celebration of Choice, Voice and Democracy in Harlem.” The event will include dance, music, discussions and art projects.
Upper West Siders with demanding work schedules—and those who prefer their inaugurations with a side of cocktails and billiards—will want to RSVP for a spot at the Underground Lounge on West End Avenue, which seems to regard the event as the Super Bowl of politics. Underground kicks off its party at 10am and will replay the inauguration until 8pm.
At Symphony Space, the public is invited to watch the ceremony at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre and enjoy a light lunch (which you can bring to or buy at the venue). Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs in Gramercy also welcomes guests to a viewing party and discussion of the address, moderated by Dean David Birdsell and other faculty. An RSVP is strongly recommended.
Festivities at the York College atrium in Jamaica, Queens, begin at 11am. And Brooklyn’s New York City Explorers will hold an exuberantly titled nine-hour OBAMATHON! at its Atlantic Avenue location. Here, families and children can enjoy the inauguration and a full day of play for $10. The event will include crafts, presidential trivia and a bevy of O-themed treats like Oreo cookies (they start with “O”) and bagels (they’re shaped like “O”). The fun begins at 9am.