How Many People Showed Up for the Pope?
Lots and lots of people squeezed onto the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday to see the papal mass. But how many, exactly? And did that number come close to the organizers’ original guess that as many as 1.5 million would show up?
So far, the city government and Secret Service aren’t saying. But an unofficial, unattributed estimate of 860,000 for Sunday’s crowd has been floating around the Internet. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that is dubious:
For 800,000 people to gather safely on the Parkway, the street would have to be four times its actual length, give or take, depending on how many people crammed into its grassy border strips. In other words, the street would have to stretch nearly four miles, from the papal stage near the Philadelphia Museum of Art across the Delaware River and into New Jersey.
The Inquirer spoke with one expert who estimated that the Sunday crowd totaled “no more than 142,000,” but that was based on a limited aerial photograph of the mass.
Desiree Peterkin Bell, Mayor Michael Nutter’s communications director, said on Twitter that number is wrong.
— desireepeterkinbell (@DPBell) September 28, 2015
— desireepeterkinbell (@DPBell) September 29, 2015
There’s been no word yet from the Nutter administration, though, on what number is right.