WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama rejoined his family in Washington on Sunday evening after bidding a poignant farewell to his Chicago home as he begins final preparations for his Jan. 20 inauguration.
"I've got to tell you, I choked up a little bit leaving my house today," Obama told reporters aboard a government 757 plane typically used by vice presidents and first ladies. It was his first trip on a government aircraft since winning election Nov. 4.
Obama said pictures of his daughter, 10-year-old Malia, and her friends triggered the emotion as he left his Hyde Park home in Chicago.
"Malia's friend had dropped off an album of the two of them. They've been friends since preschool. I just looked through the pages, the house was empty. It was a little tough," Obama said.
Asked if he was looking forward to arriving in Washington, Obama smiled and said yes, "although living in a hotel for two weeks? We did that for two years."
The president-elect is staying at the Hay-Adams Hotel across from the White House. His wife and two young daughters made the same trip from Chicago on Saturday.
Drivers complained of gridlock on I Street, a major east-west thoroughfare through downtown D.C., on Monday, due to street closures in the area. City officials advised advised motorists to stay away from the area for the next 10 days, saying there isn't much they can do to ease the congestion until the Obamas move out of the hotel.
Obama has a busy week ahead of him. On Monday, after his girls left for their first day of classes at the private Sidwell Friends School, he had a meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders to discuss the stimulus plan aimed at jolting the economy out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. On Wednesday, he's scheduled to attend lunch at the White House with former presidents.
Obama arrived in Washington just hours after his pick for commerce secretary, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, took his name out of the running amid a federal grand jury investigation into government contracts.
In addition to finding a replacement for Richardson, Obama also has some other high-profile members of his administration to name, including a director of national intelligence and a CIA director. Robert Gibbs, Obama's top spokesman, told reporters he anticipated those posts to be named soon.
Confirmation hearings for other members of his Cabinet are scheduled in the coming days.
The Obamas will live at the Hay-Adams until the White House's guest quarters at Blair House, across Pennsylvania Avenue, are available Jan. 15.
Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information
Opened in 1928, the Hay-Adams Hotel sits across Lafayette Square from the White House. Its name comes from two historical figures who lived on the site: John Hay, the private assistant to President Abraham Lincoln and later secretary of state, and Henry Adams, an author and descendant of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has put the following limitations into effect, starting at 1 a.m. on Sunday, January 4 until midnight on January 15:
• 16th Street, NW, between I Street and H Street, will be closed to vehicular traffic and parking will be restricted.
• Connecticut Avenue, NW, between I Street and H Street, will be closed to vehicular traffic and parking will be restricted.
• H Street, NW, between 17th Street and Vermont Avenue, will be closed to vehicular traffic and parking will be restricted.
• Parking will be restricted on I Street, NW, between 14th and 17th Streets.
In addition, pedestrian access may be restricted on the streets listed above to provide for security and safety around the hotel during the upcoming first family’s stay.
Residents will have access to their homes and, after they are cleared through security checkpoints, delivery trucks will be permitted to make deliveries to businesses in the area.