NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — President-elect Joe Biden will take an oath Wednesday and become the 46th president of the United States.

As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported Monday, the oath is written in the Constitution and has a unique connection to New York.

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The entire Presidential Oath of Office is only one sentence — 35 words — but it stands as a public vow.

The first presidential inauguration with George Washington was held in 1789 in New York City.

“I don’t think all New Yorkers know that Washington was inaugurated here, that it was the nation’s first capitol,” New York Historical Society Assistant Curator Lily Wong told Overmyer.

(Credit: Steve Overmyer/CBS2)

Washington took the oath in 1789 at Federal Hall on Wall Street. He wanted it to be a public proclamation, so he did it on the balcony. The railing has been preserved by the Historical Society.

“He took the oath of office right behind this balcony with the idea he wanted the most number of people to be able to witness that moment, for it to be a public oath taking,” Wong said.

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The official beginning of American presidency, of Congress and of the Supreme Court can be traced back to that moment — and one oath.

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“It carries so much weight, and it just connects all of our presidents to our entire American history,” said Wong.

(Credit: Steve Overmyer/CBS2)

Overmyer visited a two-thirds replica of the Oval Office, which took the Historical Society two years to build. There are portraits of every president, including William Henry Harrison, whose inauguration day speech was the longest in history, leading to the shortest presidency.

“So he decided for his address, he wasn’t going to wear a hat and wasn’t going to wear a coat,” Wong said. “He catches a really bad chill. That chill turns to pneumonia.”

Thirty days later, pneumonia took his life.

Most inaugurations are known as a celebration of traditions, and it’s not a mere formality; it’s a public pledge where every word matters. In 2009 Chief Justice Roberts mixed up the wording.

“There’s a line that says, ‘faithfully execute,’ and Chief Justice Roberts said, ‘execute faithfully,'” said Wong.

It wasn’t caught until later. So they recited the oath correctly the next day.

Inauguration Day is a ceremony marking the commencement of a new presidential term. But ultimately, it’s a day meant to heal party polarization and reaffirm the nation’s unity.

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CBS2’s Steve Overmyer contributed to this report

Steve Overmyer