My heart sank as I stood on the Metro platform at the Zoo stop and watched the second completely full train pull away. All those stories of people in Japan pushing people into trains started to make sense. It seemed there was no other way to get on the train and getting the rally looked impossible.
I didn't know what to do so I got on a different train and rode in the opposite direction. Two stops later, the crowd didn't quite as bad and now, I didn't have any other way to get back to the hotel anyway. I moved with the crowd, slipped into the still-packed train and tried not to take up space.
By the time we got to the Metro Center stop, the train was emitting the kind of burnt smell you get when an engine has been pushed a little too far. I knew I'd already missed my waiting friends, but now I was worried we'd experience some kind of mechanical failure and get stuck on the train.
Luckily, I made it off the train and into the river of humanity walking down to the Mall.
My pictures are below.
I think I was somewhere in the middle of the crowd. All we could see was the edge of one giant screen.
In front of me were some people with chairs, and every where there people trying to move through the crowd and get closer.
This was my favorite sign.
This tree-party guy and his girlfriend provided quite a bit of entertainment for the crowd.
The Mythbusters had us all doing the wave. It took 54 seconds for the wave to go from the front of the crowd to the back.
Not only was the rally packed, 7th street was full of people for several blocks.
Who could have predicted that a call to sanity would resonate with so many people.
I watched on C-Span, so missed the Mythbusters (must be something in the Discovery contracts, you think?) What exactly did they do?
And yes...it was very entertaining to see a sudden and mildly shocking shot of all the tree people!
The Mythbusters were doing experiments with waves. They would start a wave going from front to back or back to front and time how long it would take. They compared female vs. male waves (the women were louder!), and they tried to make a standing wave.
I don't if the standing wave worked or not, I couldn't tell from my vantage point.
They started a wave at the front simultaneously with one at the back. The waves met and canceled. What I saw then on C-SPAN was that moments later a new wave started at one side and then propagated outwards and to both ends.
They also had a guy with a seismograph who measured the impact of everyone in the Mall jumping. They did it twice and gave some funny fractions such as a trillionth of the size of the Loma Prieta earthquake or one fifth of the energy of a 30 MPH car crash. (I don't remember the exact numbers. Better would have been a Magnitude. Maybe the USGS can provide that.)
They also did silly experiments with making the crowd make funny sounds such as laughing, laughing politely, maniacal evil scientist laugh, and cheek popping. Unfortunately, the sound for the TV audience was disappointing.
Overall, I thought that the Mythbusters were thematically an excellent "opening act" for Jon Stewart, even if they didn't blow anything up.
I agree. The maniacal laughing was a good touch.
I was there too and got a picture of the same tree guy. Was on the other side of the lost child tent close to your location. We got there about 1030, and made it as far as we could go until the horde of people ground to a halt, then just settled down right there since we couldn't move any more in either direction.