Crowds Gather At Lincoln Memorial

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The Lincoln Memorial is where performers serenaded the incoming president and his family on Sunday. That's also where Marian Anderson sang and Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the nation about civil rights. Spectators have gathered at the memorial to watch history unfold.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's Audie Cornish is at the Lincoln Memorial. That's at the other end of the National Mall from the Capitol. It's also where some of the biggest names in music performed - you might have heard them - for the incoming president and his family on Sunday. And of course, it's where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech that was more than four decades ago. And Audie, what's the scene like there this morning? You sound cold.

AUDIE CORNISH: Hi, Renee. It is a little bit cold. There's a nice sheen of ice on the reflecting pool here in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This is obviously the furthest end of the Mall, and so the folks that are here right now are volunteers. A few hundred people in cherry-red winter caps, and they are being dispersed to the different security gates, because they're going to open at 7:00, and the crowds are going to start coming in. My producer and I walked all the way down here from the NPR building, and along the way we saw definitely a few hundred people gathering up against the barricades, getting in line essentially, waiting for the gates to open.

MONTAGNE: And are they expecting a large crowd? I mean, there are so many people coming in, but this is the other end of the Mall.

CORNISH: That's true. I mean, this weekend at the sort of opening ceremony of all of this at the Lincoln Memorial - the "We are One" concert, there were several hundred thousand people there. And that was a little bit of a trial run of what they expect to come. That being said, at one point, estimates were coming to the event - estimates for the crowd size was 4 million, and each week that's been bumped down just a little bit as people adjust their expectations to say a million - million and a half is the last I heard from D.C. city officials.

MONTAGNE: Interesting thing, that memorial is next to the bridge that leads to Virginia. And that's a foot bridge basically today, right?

CORNISH: It will be a foot bridge, the only one. And there's been a lot of closures for folks on the Virginia side, and so this will be one of the main points of entry for them. I haven't seen any crowds yet coming from that direction, but I'm sure that this is going to be a popular spot because of the significance of Lincoln and how the president-elect has talked about it.

MONTAGNE: Well, we'll be talking to you later in the morning, and thanks very much. NPR's Audie Cornish.

CORNISH: Thank you.

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