At the time of Lincoln’s first inauguration, Washington D.C was very different from the metropolis it is today. Unlike more established cities such as New York and Philadelphia, the District was a fledging town with only two sewer lines, a limited supply of water, and a few widely dispersed federal buildings.
As Lincoln made his way from the Willard Hotel toward the Capitol steps for his swearing-in, the unfinished dome of the Capitol loomed before him. Crowds lined the parade route to watch his horse and buggy drive over the muddy cobblestone streets past vacant buildings and empty lots. The City, like Lincoln, was soon to be shaped by a war that would forever change this “sleepy southern town.”