John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration in Pictures

  Jan. 21, 1961, John F. Kennedy  
  Los Angeles Times file photo  

  Jan. 21, 1961, Inauguration  

Jan. 20, 1961: Here is the story of President Kennedy’s inaugural as told through photos from The Times archives. Above, President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy shortly after the inauguration.  Keep reading for more pictures and even a mystery photo!


  Jan. 19, 1961, Reviewing Stand  
  Los Angeles Times file photo  

Work is nearly finished on the presidential reviewing stand outside the White House.

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

On the flight from New York to Washington, Kennedy reviews his inauguration speech.

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

On the night before the inauguration, a heavy storm blankets Washington with 8 inches of snow.

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

Kennedy, meeting with former President Truman the night before the inauguration, is unconcerned about the bad weather, which some people feared would affect the inaugural.

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

President-elect Kennedy and President Eisenhower leave the White House en route to the Capitol for Kennedy’s inauguration.

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

Ike makes an aside to Kennedy as they leave the White House.

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

In one of the most memorable images from Kennedy’s inauguration, poet Robert Frost, 86, was unable to read a poem written for the occasion, “For John F. Kennedy, His Inauguration” because of glare.  Instead, he recited “The Gift Outright” from memory.

And even here, we find a mystery! Vice President Lyndon Johnson is credited in news accounts with  trying to shield Frost’s text with his hat. However, in this photo, Johnson is clearly visible to the right. And, in fact, video of the inauguration shows Johnson didn’t have a hat.

So who is the fellow to the left?


Here’s a better look at our mystery fellow with the bald head directly behind Kennedy, in a frame grab from YouTube. The fellow is unidentified in news accounts but in videos of the inauguration, he can be seen acting as a sort of usher, making sure people get to their seats.

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

Kennedy delivers his inaugural address. In the front row are, from left,  Johnson, Richard Nixon, Sen. John Sparkman (D-Ala.) and Harry Truman.

  Jan. 21, 1961, Inaugural Text  
  Los Angeles Times file photo  

Kennedy shakes hands with Nixon after delivering his speech.

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

Jacqueline Kennedy “had a chuck under the chin for her husband, President John F. Kennedy, moments after he took the oath of office.”

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

The presidential motorcade leaves the Capitol en route to the White House.

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

West Point cadets march past the presidential reviewing stand. The first lady left after an hour but Kennedy watched the entire 3 1/2-hour parade, The Times said. 

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy leave the White House for a tour of the inaugural balls, which were held at four hotels and a National Guard armory.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in JFK, Photography, Politics, Richard Nixon. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration in Pictures

  1. Mary mallory says:

    Could the man sitting in the aisle actually be Secret Service?


  2. dave1013 says:

    I believe this was the last Presidential inaugural where men wore top hats. Could be wrong, though.


  3. Vincent says:

    There was a little bit of Hollywood on the stand not far from the new president — Marion Davies, a longtime friend of Joseph P. Kennedy, who hosted the JFK entourage during the 1960 Democratic convention in Los Angeles. She would be gone little more than eight months after the inaugural.


  4. jazzfan says:

    Ask not, what your country can do for you, ask, what you will do with your taxcut.


  5. Ronald Emmis says:

    I hate to say anything good about Richard Nixon, but he could have dragged out challenging the 1960 election into recount after recount, but instead he did what was best for the nation and gave Kennedy’s election his official backing. ‘Tis a shame that Al Gore waited until mid-December to do the same.


  6. Dee says:

    Let’s bring back the Top Hat…inaugurals have not been the same without them.


  7. Native Angeleno says:

    To Ronald Emmis ~
    Nixon could not have dragged out the election of 1960, a legend of political propaganda. Kennedy had more than enough electoral votes to win the election, even without the disputed Illinois vote count.
    Nixon knew that even though the victims of legendary propaganda don’t.
    As for Gore, the state recount of Florida as reported one year later shows he won the state, its electoral votes and the election, slam dunk; he refused to contest the electoral college report to Congress that technically elected Bush because he did not want to be the president who would agree to the orchestrated charade Bush would eagerly agree to on 9/11. That Gore knew of the planned acts of treason ahead makes him guilty of misprision of treason, which is having the knowledge of treason and saying nothing to a responsible official about it.


  8. lorraine tarr says:

    The mystery man is the late Raymond Salmon, Clinton M.A, he is actually a great freind of ours and his wife Ellen and son Ray Salmon (jnr) could give you any info you want


  9. reynaldo mestidio says:

    The speech is so powerful and full of beautiful words that harmonizes the personality of JFK It touches me so much and I felt nostalgic of the era of my youth. Proud of the American who speak to the world, in the springtime of his life.


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