Inaugural First Nail Ceremony

Two hammers and a nail on top of a piece of wood

Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies Chairman Senator Roy Blunt (MO), House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (MO-23), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), and Senator Charles Schumer (NY) hammered nails into a symbolic piece of wood, marking the start of construction of the inauguration platform on which the next president and vice president will be sworn in on January 20, 2017.

Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers standing behind a podium

Construction on the platform begins as the years-long renovation of the Capitol Dome winds down. Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers promised the crowd that the scaffolding will be removed by January, saying "We're nearing completion on this once-in-a-generation project and yes, ladies and gentlemen, all of that scaffolding will be down before Inauguration Day."

Seven people are hammering a nail into a piece of wood as Stephen T. Ayers looks on

The inauguration platform will hold more than 1,600 people on Inauguration Day, including former presidents, Members of Congress, cabinet members, diplomats, governors, and other dignitaries. Inaugural Ceremonies Chairman Senator Roy Blunt (MO) praised the workers who will hammer in "the nails that matter."

Ceremony Commences Inauguration Construction

On January 20, 2017, more than 1,600 people will descend onto a platform for the inauguration of the next president and vice president of the United States. Past presidents, Members of Congress, cabinet members, diplomats, governors, and other dignitaries will gather on the platform.

Congressional leaders gathered on Wednesday, September 21, 2016, on the lower west terrace of the U.S. Capitol to hammer the first nails into the platform that will be built for the inauguration. Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies Chairman Senator Roy Blunt, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Charles Schumer, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy took part in the Inaugural First Nail Ceremony.

Senator Blunt called the construction, "One of the most important temporary jobs done by the Architect of the Capitol," since the platform will hold so many dignitaries, and because it marks a peaceful transition of government.

The Inaugural Ceremony used to be held on the eastern side of the Capitol, but was moved to the western side in 1981 with the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan. Since 1981, the country's presidents have looked out across the National Mall to the Washington Monument on their Inauguration Day.