News

Sizing Up a Crowd

How do experts come up with crowd estimates at Washington events?

Crowd estimates in DC can be less than scientific. Case in point: Michele Bachmann’s count of 1.6 million people at Glenn Beck’s 2010 rally on the Mall. The real figure was closer to 87,000, says Curt Westergard of Digital Design & Imaging Service in Falls Church. His company estimates crowd sizes for CBS News by flying a camera-rigged balloon above the Mall. Here’s how it works.

Get Our Weekend Newsletter

The best DC news, delivered straight to your inbox.
Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.

Staff Writer

Michael J. Gaynor has written about fake Navy SEALs, a town without cell phones, his Russian spy landlord, and many more weird and fascinating stories for the Washingtonian. He lives in DC, where his landlord is no longer a Russian spy.