6 Inauguration Day front pages from the 1974 to today

6 Inauguration Day front pages from the 1974 to today

The Charlotte Observer cover for Gerald Ford's inauguration on August 9, 1974.

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The internet’s certainly changed the way we receive news on important days, but archived print front pages remain some of the best time capsules for a city.

Why it matters: They show us what was happening and what people were talking about on the day of a change in power. More than that, the big concerns of the past might help us deal with the big concerns of today.

Here are 6 Inauguration Day front pages from the Charlotte Observer in the past 50 years.

January 20, 2017: Donald Trump

The local headline that stands out: Soccer.

Hard to believe, but just four years ago the conversation dominating local sports was how to turn the aging Memorial Stadium into an MLS facility. The deal fell through. Two years later, David Tepper bought the Panthers. A year after that, he secured the MLS franchise, which’ll start play in 2022 in a renovated Bank of America Stadium.

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Fun fact: The writer on many of the old Memorial Stadium stories was Katie Peralta, who now works here at Agenda/Axios.

January 21, 2017 Observer front page Trump inauguration day

Observer cover on January 20, 2017

January 20, 2009: Barack Obama

Local story of note: That snow banner, of course.

What happened: Charlotte got about 2 inches. Somehow, the local inauguration parties carried on.

January 20, 2009 Observer front Obama Inauguration

Observer cover on January 20, 2009

January 20, 2001: George W. Bush

Local tops national: Rae Carruth

Wow. Maybe one of the most important local stories of all time, playing out on the same day as the inauguration of a president who won one of the most noteworthy elections of all time. The former Panthers wide receiver was convicted of hiring a hitman to murder his girlfriend, who was pregnant with their son.

Further reading: The Observer’s Scott Fowler covered the Carruth story like nobody else, right through Carruth’s release from prison in 2018.

Observer front January 20, 2001

Observer cover on January 20, 2001

January 20, 1981: Ronald Reagan

You think today is complicated? How about a news day when the outgoing president is negotiating the release of 52 hostages, and the incoming president’s inauguration eve gala is pushed the below the fold.

January 20, 1981 Observer front

Observer cover on January 20, 1981

August 9, 1974: Gerald Ford

1. That’s a big headline.

2. What it says in the bottom right about Charlotte: “In a county where 70 per cent of the voters had selected Nixon less than two years ago, more than a few people were reduced to tears.”

August 9, 1974 Observer front

Observer cover on August 9, 1974

January 20, 2021: Joe Biden

COVID times: All around Charlotte, Biden supporters prepared to pop champagne from on their couches instead of in crowds. There’s no way to uncouple the virus from the transition. And locally, we had the worst news of all, with our first pediatric COVID death.

Charlotte Observer cover on January 20, 2021.


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