Frenetic street scene in UScapital .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} WASHINGTON - The U.S. capital came to life well before dawn yesterday, as out-of-towners and area residents alike overwhelmed mass transit and filled city streets to witness the swearing-in of Barack Obama.

Energized by the historic moment, tens of thousands of people turned Washington's orderly grid of streets into a festive party scene. Ready to endure below-freezing temperatures, crowds streamed up from subway stations and past parked buses, emergency vehicles and street vendors, bound for the National Mall lawn in front of the Capitol for the inauguration.

"This is the culmination of two years of work," said Obama activist Akin Salawu, 34, of Brooklyn, New York, who helped the candidate as a community organizer and Web producer. "We got on board when Obama was the little engine who could. He's like a child you've held onto. Now he's going out into the world."

Meanwhile, U.S authorities monitored a rush of intelligence leads yesterday at the largest security operation in presidential inauguration history, including a possible threat from an East Africa radical Islamic terrorist group. There was an unprecedented amount of security, with thousands of law enforcement officers from 58 federal, state and local agencies working together. Sirens keening, squad cars and utility vehicles swept along downtown streets even before dawn. There has been no change in the terrorist threat level, which remains at yellow - or elevated.