Sifting through past presidential inauguration photos offers plenty of insight into the character of the guy getting sworn in and what was happening in the country at the time. The ceremony is a massive photo op, but unlike many photo ops, this one has great historical value.
January 20, 1953. You can see Vice President Richard Nixon's deep enjoyment of President Dwight Eisenhower's speech as he sits in a chair behind him.
Security was different back then. Eisenhower enjoyed the freedom to be lassoed by Monte Montana during the inaugural parade. It is difficult to imagine today's Secret Service allowing the same kind of fake sort-of kidnapping.
January 21, 1957. A guided missile passes by during Eisenhower's second inaugural parade. It is also difficult to imagine today's parade merrily flaunting our ability to annihilate our enemies.
January 18, 1961. John F. Kennedy reviews his inaugural address. Haha, on paper!
January 20, 1961. Jackie Kennedy checks her husband's chin just after he becomes president.
January 18, 1965. Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird thank singer Sally Ann Howes at an inaugural ball.
January 20, 1965. Lady Bird begins the tradition of the first lady holding the bible the president is sworn in on.