WASHINGTON - The Women's March on Washington has been forced to re-route due a much larger than expected turnout. A sea of pink hats stretches in all directions from the stage at the intersection of Third Street and Independence Avenue - not far from the U.S. Capitol - where a rally is ending. Crowds are packed shoulder to shoulder all along the intended parade route, forcing organizers to ask people to follow an alternate route.
We are marching! We are marching straight ahead toward the Washington monument to the ellipse! #WomensMarch— Women%27s March (@womensmarch) January 21, 2017
Organizers said they were expecting a half-million people to participate in the march, which will end at the White House.
Larger than expected crowds were reported in other cities as well.
In Chicago, a formal march was called off after 150,000 people turned out, seven times more than expected.
In Los Angeles, subway trains were packed to capacity with demonstrators heading for the protest site at the city’s downtown Pershing Square, according to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper quoted one woman as saying she waited almost an hour before being able to squeeze onto a train.
In New York, NBC News said a crowd of 60,000 and growing was flooding the upscale Fifth Avenue shopping district shortly after noon.
Police in St. Paul, Minnesota, estimated the crowd there between 45,000 and 60,000, according to that city’s StarTribune newspaper, while a CBS News affiliate in Boston reported that “tens of thousands” of people were descending on the central Boston Common for a rally there as of midday.
An estimated 10,000 people turned out in Atlanta, according to reporters for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, while the website Denverite said the crowd in Denver, Colorado, took up a city block.
A Thursday evening anti-Trump rally outside the new president’s eponymous Trump Tower in New York City, which featured some of the same speakers as the Washington rally, drew an estimated 25,000 people, according to the Huffington Post website.
Women's March on Washington
Looking at the large crowd in D.C. Saturday, filmmaker Michael Moore said that whatever the march was intended to accomplish, "we've already accomplished it."
"Sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are," feminist icon Gloria Steinem told the crowd. "Sometimes pressing 'send' is not enough."
WATCH: Gloria Steinem addresses protesters
"We are America," Latina actress America Ferrera declared earlier in the rally. "We will not go from a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance."
The march comes a day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump and is intended to protest the new president's policies and advocate for women's rights.
"I want to be able to support you," movie star Scarlett Johansson said, "but first, I ask that you support me" and all women.
WATCH: Scarlett Johansson's comments to the crowd
Thanks for standing, speaking & marching for our values @womensmarch. Important as ever. I truly believe we%27re always Stronger Together.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 21, 2017
Congratulations to the women marching today. We must go forward to ensure full reproductive justice for all women. #WomensMarch— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 21, 2017
In many cases, it took ingenuity to get to the march. City buses and subway trains were clogged and in some cases, subway stops had to be closed.
By 11 a.m., 275,000 people had taken the subway. At the same time on inauguration day, ridership was 193,000. Washington officials said 1,800 buses from outside had registered to park in the city Saturday, which could mean nearly 100,000 people came into the city just by bus.
In his inaugural speech Friday, Trump pledged to lead a government that represented the wishes of all Americans.
“We are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people,” he said, adding that the day “belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.”
The protesters who gathered for Saturday’s march, however, were not persuaded.
Marching with SO many sisters today but my heart is most proud to march with my blood sister,… https://t.co/pw2DPZYgbq— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) January 21, 2017
In the crowd
The Bize Mamas of Kansas City, Missouri, couldn’t all attend. So they sent two members to the march.
The group consists of female small-business owners who are busy raising young children. Kelly Porter, a specialty wallpaper designer, says the women in the group were “dumbfounded” at the election.
Porter and fellow Bize Mama Dominique Davison engaged in a discussion with Trump supporters on Inauguration Day to understand how they think.
“This is what our freedom is about," Porter said of her attendance at Saturday's march. "I’m standing up for issues important to me.”
She’s also hoping the women attending the rally will “stick with the active role they are playing here today and continue to be active.”
Maggie Klein, of Oakton, Virginia, saw a march posting on Facebook and knew she had to go. “What he (Trump) does and says is not the way I raised my kids," she said.
Klein was joined by her teenage children and husband, Stephen.
“We just have to keep getting the other point of view out there,” Stephen Klein said.
Sending a message
Organizers of the march on Washington say they want to send a message to Trump on his first full day in office that women’s rights are human rights. Demonstrators say they are calling for racial and gender equality, affordable health care and abortion rights -- issues they say are under threat in a Trump presidency.
Other issues motivating the participants are ending violence against women, environmental justice, and protecting the rights of workers, people with disabilities, immigrants and the LGBTQ community.
But pro-life groups say they have been excluded from the march.
"Groups that support abortion access have taken over what should have been a march about a lot of other issues," Michele Hendrickson, regional director for@Students4LifeHQ, told VOA as her group was gathering outside the U.S. Supreme Court, prior to joining the march.
"It's not a women's march because women are not monolithic. In fact, tens of millions of women are pro-life," Catherine Glenn Foster said.
Her company, Stanton Healthcare, had been made a march partner but was later rejected because of its pro-life stance.
In Photos: Women's MarchView full gallery