An image from the USCCB.org broadcast of the Papal Mass
The original estimate of attendance at the Papal Mass was upwards of 1.5 million. Then, the number became a much smaller 1 million. During the broadcasts of the Papal Mass, the numbers floated around were about 800,000. So, how many people were there really?
On Philly.com, professor of crowd science G. Keith Still (I had no idea that such a professorship existed!) found the number to be much less than the stated estimates:
The rough estimate for the western end of Parkway was performed by G. Keith Still, a professor of crowd science at Manchester Metropolitan University in England.
He relied on an Inquirer photograph taken at 5 p.m. from the Top of the Tower restaurant, on the 51st floor of 3 Logan Square.
Still estimated a density of 3 to 4 people per square meter in the portion of the roadway from Eakins Oval to just past 22nd Street. From there to Logan Square, it thinned out to about 1 or 2 people per square meter, Still estimated after examining the photo.
He also added in crowds in adjacent ball fields and on the north side of the Franklin Institute, where densities appeared to be in the range of 3 to 4 people per square meter.
After adding up all those areas, equivalent to about 11 acres, Still came up with a total attendance in the range of 80,000 to 142,000 for the entire western end of the Parkway.
Still cited exaggerated numbers at the Royal Wedding as how common exaggerated crowd numbers were. There were 80,000 tickets distributed for the ticketed area of the Parkway, and as I noted before, some people kept the tickets as a souvenir, rather than attending.
Regardless of the actual number, City of Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter said that people having a good experience and staying safe were what mattered, not numbers:
“That’s the measure of success, not exactly how many people came or showed up,” he said. “We’ll look at information that gets compiled. We’ll try to figure it out.”
Many attendees reported having a life-changing experience.
After all, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered…” I think that it is safe to say that the criteria of Jesus was met.