The Associated Press produced a story on Dec. 22 concerning the president-elect’s route to the inauguration over the northeast corridor Amtrak Line between Philadelphia and Washington. The piece was carried widely by many of the nation’s daily newspapers, and we’ve clipped part of it here in case you didn’t see it. For the entire article click on the at the bottom, which will take you to the Wilmington News Journal, which included a few staff photographs with the piece.
Riding Rails May Remind Obama of Task He Faces
Associated Press, Dec. 22, 2oo8
ABOARD AMTRAK 181 NORTHEAST REGIONAL — The centuries-old right of way between Philadelphia and Washington is marked by shimmering waterways and industrial sprawl, well-kept suburbs and urban blight. Pesident-elect Barack Obama won’t be sharing a ride with thousands of long-distance commuters when he travels on a private charter train from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station to Washington’s Union Station on Jan. 17, three days before he takes the oath of office. But his route will be exactly the same. I fact, it hasn’t changed much since Abraham Lincoln rode the rails before his inauguration.
Evidently, Obama has thought deeply about the symbolism of the 135-mile journey, something that regular riders typically aren’t inclined to do. Nonetheless, they develop a feel for the changing landscape. You see those deserted houses, and you know you’re in Baltimore,” said Gifty Kwakye, 27, a student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who commutes daily from Philadelphia. The theme for Obama’s inaugural is “Renewing America’s Promise,” and as Kwakye noted, the need for such renewal will be clear in the five minutes before Obama’s train pulls into Baltimore’s Penn Station.
The tracks pass through some of east Baltimore’s most impoverished neighborhoods, where abandoned and burned-out row homes seem to outnumber inhabited ones. The city has nearly 30,000 abandoned properties.
Closed Chrysler plant in view
A gaze out the window could also remind Obama of the troubles of the auto industry, the decline of American manufacturing and the strain on the military. Johnnie Walker, a 60-year-old Amtrak operations supervisor from Middletown, who has been with the railroad for 29 years, finds profound scenes throughout the journey. At the just-closed Chrysler plant in Newark, “you wonder what’s going to happen to all the employees there,” Walker said. At Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Ground, “you start thinking about the military personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan, wondering where they’re being deployed to. “There’s a lot of emotion when you travel on these trains,” Walker said . . .