The main entrance to Union Station in northeast Washington was mostly empty by 9:30 a.m., and only a handful of travelers stepped in the front doors to catch the few moving trains.
A nearby police checkpoint on the edge of the green zone prevented cars from entering Columbus Circle. A few cars and about half a dozen taxis managed to get to the entrance and wrap around from the north side of the station. But most of the pedestrians walked from blocks away, rolling their suitcases behind them.
Dennis Abigoe, 56, was waiting in his parked red taxi in the mostly deserted circle.
“Nobody’s here,” said the Bowie taxi driver, Md. “The whole place is empty.”
He’d been in the same spot on Jan. 6, unaware that the mob had stormed the U.S. Capitol just a few blocks away. He didn’t hear how far it was going until he got home and saw the news later that day.
“This is the country that the whole world is looking at,” said Abigoe, an immigrant from Ghana. “It’s a shame to see the whole place so mixed up.”
He was relieved to see the law enforcement presence across the city, even if it meant fewer customers and more logistical problems.
“Right now we’re not talking about money, we’re talking about security,” he said.
Rick Dibella, 67, wore a mask as he rolled his suitcase into Union Station after being dropped off by an Uber vehicle.
Dibella, a land developer in the real estate industry, was on her way to catch an Amtrak train for a business trip.
“I haven’t seen it like this since 9/11,” he said.
He remembered walking through downtown Washington the Sunday after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City and not seeing a single other person on the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol.
“At least then you could navigate the streets,” he said. “It seemed more like a show of force than it was.”
While the streets aren’t quite as empty as they were that day, law enforcement pedestrian traffic appears to be even greater on Sunday, he said.
The military trucks and police checkpoints served as permanent reminders of the violent mob of January 6th. “How sad is it that we took this on?” Said Dibella, describing himself as a lifelong Republican who was bothered by the direction of his political party.