Get PJ Media on your Apple

‘You Can See November from the Washington Monument’

An update to this morning's estimate of the crowd at Glenn Beck's DC rally.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

August 29, 2010 - 2:30 pm
<- Prev  Page 2 of 2   View as Single Page

The second point, which several commenters raised, was that there were a lot of people under the trees.  I included the actual Google Earth kml files for the polygon I used in my original piece, but there were technical issues with making them available through the PJM site.  So here’s a screen shot of the polygon (click to get full size):

As you can see, I did include a lot of the area under the trees, particularly on the north side of the reflecting pool. It’s certainly possible I didn’t include all the possible area, but again I was trying to make sure any errors were on the low side.

Reader David Thomasson passed along an interesting comparison, as well.  David is a professional retoucher who used his Photoshop skills to make this comparison:

Here is a visual aid that might give some idea of the crowd size.

At the WW2 Memorial, the distance between the two pillars is, by chance, 120 yards — the length of a football field including the end zones (you can verify that on Google Earth, which has an extremely accurate ruler):This photo of the Orange Bowl was taken from about the same perspective as the shot of the mall during the Beck rally. I resized it so the field matches the distance between the pillars. The Orange Bowl in this configuration had a capacity of about 76,000. Its maximum capacity reached 80,000 at some point, though I don’t think it was in the configuration shown here:

Now, these pictures could be a little misleading, since there is pretty substantial foreshortening as we head toward the Lincoln Memorial, but taken with the appropriate amount of salt I think it’s a good comparison: CBS News would make this crowd “only” the size of an Orange Bowl crowd, and that doesn’t seem to match at all well.

In any case, I think commenter “FredB” wrote the perfect conclusion:

“You can see November from the Washington Monument.”

As always, we’re getting some new information and finding some errors, so let’s take a second pass at this estimate.

First of all, as commenter Raymond Shaw points out, the actual “dense crowd” number used by the Park Service is five square feet per person, not ten. I missed a step by not explaining that I started using ten square feet in my original estimates last year to account for the difference in density between the really crowded areas near the front, and the less dense areas near the back.

Estimate

10 square feet per person

5 square feet per person

2.5 square feet per person

Maximum:

215,000 people

430,000

860,000

90 percent

200,000

400,000

800,000

75 percent

163,000

326,000

652,000

50 percent

108,000

216,000

432,000

CBS News Estimate

87,000

87,000

87,000

40 percent

86,000

172,000

344,000

If we use those Park Service figures, obviously the estimates double or quadruple, as shown in the amended table above.

I continue to think those numbers are too dense. Five square feet per person means a space 24 inches deep by 30 inches wide; 2.5 square feet per person is one 12 inches by 30 inches.

Just to try to make sense of these intuitively, let’s consider standard towel sizes:

Towel type

Dimensions

Area

Bath sheet

35 in x 60 in

15 square feet

Beach towel

30 x 60

12.5 square feet

“Dense” crowd

24 x 30

5 square feet

Hand towel

16 x 30

3.3 square feet

“Packed” crowd

12 x 30

2.5 square feet

Wash towel

13 x 13

1.7 square feet

So the numbers quoted for the Park Service estimates come down to each person standing on a space a little more than a hand towel for the less dense number, and a bit more than a wash towel for the more dense.

Frankly, if I’m that close to another person for any length of time, I want dinner and a movie.

The pictures we have are apparently from fairly early in the rally, and as I say, I took the conservative approach by only counting what I could see. We can speculate some, though, by guessing that some further number of people arrived and occupied areas outside my perimeter (more about that below) and use that to make some more estimates. So let’s extend that, speculatively:

Speculative Estimate

10 square feet per person

5 square feet per person

2.5 square feet per person

150 percent

323,000

645,000

1,300,000

125 percent

269,000

538,000

1,076,000

110 percent

237,000

473,000

946,000

100 percent (was “maximum”)

215,000 people

430,000

860,000

CBS News Estimate

87,000

87,000

87,000

The once thing we can say for certain here is that the CBS News estimate looks more and more foolish.

The second point, which several commenters raised, was that there were a lot of people under the trees. I included the actual Google Earth kml files for the polygon I used in my original piece, but there were technical issues with making them available through the PJM site. So here’s a screen shot of the polygon (click to get full size):

crowd-perimeter-polygon-column.jpg

As you can see, I did include a lot of the area under the trees, particularly on the north side of the Reflecting Pool. It’s certainly possible I didn’t include all the possible area, but again I was trying to make sure any errors were on the low side.

Reader David Thomasson passed along an interesting comparison, as well. David is a professional retoucher who used his Photoshop skills to make this comparison:

Here is a visual aid that might give some idea of the crowd size.

At the WW2 Memorial, the distance between the two pillars is, by chance, 120 yards — the length of a football field including the end zones (you can verify that on Google Earth, which has an extremely accurate ruler):

beckrally1.jpg

This photo of the Orange Bowl was taken from about the same perspective as the shot of the mall during the Beck rally. I resized it so the field matches the distance between the pillars. The Orange Bowl in this configuration had a capacity of about 76,000. Its maximum capacity reached 80,000 at some point, though I don’t think it was in the configuration shown here:

beckrally2.jpg

Now, these pictures could be a little misleading, since there is pretty substantial foreshortening as we head toward the Lincoln Memorial, but taken with the appropriate amount of salt I think it’s a good comparison: CBS News would make this crowd “only” the size of an Orange Bowl crowd, and that doesn’t seem to match at all well.

In any case, I think commenter “FredB” wrote the perfect conclusion:

You can see November from the Washington monument.

<- Prev  Page 2 of 2   View as Single Page
Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media. Follow his 13 week diet and exercise experiment on Facebook and at PJ Lifestyle
Click here to view the 264 legacy comments

Comments are closed.

One Trackback to “‘You Can See November from the Washington Monument’”