National Mall closed through inauguration amid threats of violence

Street closures. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy Google Maps)

The National Mall is closed to the public through Jan. 21, the National Park Service announced Friday.

The park service ordered the closure as part of the area within the National Special Security Event, as designated by the Department of Homeland Security for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The closure affects all National Park Service property, memorials and facilities in the areas roughly bounded by Constitution Avenue Northwest to the north; Ohio Drive Southwest to the south; the Potomac River to the west; and 3rd Street to the east. The area generally includes President’s Park, including Lafayette Park, the Ellipse and the White House complex, as well as East and West Potomac parks, and National Park Service lands along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Areas near the U.S. Navy Memorial and the John Marshall Park have been designated for “permitted First Amendment activities,” the park service said. Those demonstrations will be limited, and participants will be screened before entering the area.

“Working together, the National Park Service, mayor’s office, the Metropolitan Police Department, United States Secret Service and all of our local and federal law enforcement and public safety partners, have developed a plan to ensure for the safety of our nation’s capital, city residents and monuments and memorials on the National Mall,” said Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks.

Here are the areas closed to the public:

  • Constitution Ave NW from Rock Creek Parkway NW to 17th Street NW, to include the adjacent sidewalks;
  • 17th Street NW to H Street NW, to include the adjacent sidewalks;
  • H Street NW to 15th Street NW, to include adjacent sidewalks;
  • 15th Street NW to Pennsylvania Avenue NW, to include adjacent sidewalks;
  • Pennsylvania Avenue NW, from 15th Street NW to 3rd Street SW, and adjacent sidewalks (except for designated areas for First Amendment activities to be overseen by the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police);
  • 3rd Street SW, from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW, and adjacent sidewalks;
  • Independence Avenue SW, from 3rd Street SW to Ohio Drive SW, and adjacent sidewalks; and
  • Ohio Drive SW to Rock Creek Parkway NW, and adjacent sidewalks.

At some point, the park service will also temporarily close these areas to the public as well:

  • East and West Potomac Parks including Hains Point, all memorials and NPS areas contained within;
  • On and offramps to Potomac Park, from I-395 N and I-395;
  • Lincoln Memorial Circle, including all adjacent sidewalks and roadways;
  • Memorial Bridge, from Washington Boulevard to Lincoln Memorial Circle, including all adjacent sidewalks; and
  • The White House Complex, all of Lafayette Park and the White House sidewalk, the Ellipse, First Division Park and Sherman Park.

Later Friday, Democratic Virginia officials said they had an agreement with U.S. Secret Service that authorized the use of Virginia State Police to help with bridge closures spanning the Potomac during the Jan. 20 inauguration.

That means, from 6 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 through 6 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, these bridges and the sidewalks on these bridges will be closed with the help of Virginia State Police:

  • Theodore Roosevelt Bridge
  • Arlington Memorial Bridge
  • Interstate 395 Bridge
  • 14th Street Bridge.

“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history,” reads a joint statement from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton.

“It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum.”

An official told CNN that there won’t be any big screens, toilets and panels were people stand, and that the public will not be able to get down to the National Mall.

Metro has already shuttered some stations, and there were widespread road closures in effect.

More than 20,000 National Guard troops are in D.C in response to a continued stream of threats of violence at the inauguration.

The National Mall shutdown comes after continued, alarming new details about the rioters who laid siege to the Capitol on Jan. 6. D.C. police officers have spoken about being stripped of their gear, beaten and being shocked by stun gun during the insurrection.

As D.C. police officer Michael Fanone lay on the ground at the U.S. Capitol Building, stunned and injured, he knew a group of rioters were stripping him of his gear. They grabbed spare ammunition, ripped the police radio off his chest and even stole his badge.

Then, Fanone, who had just been shocked several times in the back of the neck, heard something chilling that made him go into survival mode. “Some guys started getting a hold of my gun and they were screaming out, ‘Kill him with his own gun,’” Fanone, who’s been a police officer for almost two decades, told CNN.

The Associated Press reported that the Capitol rioters included highly trained ex-military and cops.

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog said Friday that it will investigate how the department and its law enforcement agencies prepared for and responded to last week’s riots.

The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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