The Women's March on Washington seems to be shattering all expectations in terms of turnout and activist zeal. For starters, simple photographic evidence suggests that the crowd sizes in Washington absolutely dwarfed the in-person audience for the Trump inauguration ― no matter what White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says ― and it's not just happening in the nation's capital. To the contrary, marches happened all throughout the United States. So, you might ask: how many people participated in women's marches nationwide?
It's become a relevant question, because it's clearly gotten under the skin of the new administration. First, President Trump complained about media reporting on the relatively thin crowds at his inauguration during his visit to the CIA. Then, hours later, Spicer delivered a testy denunciation of the press for failing to report the inaugural crowds as "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," a claim that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
So, how many people marched the day after? Obviously, an exact count is impossible, not unlike the inauguration itself ― it falls to estimates drawn from aerial photography, as well as on-the-ground reporting. But some worthwhile estimates can indeed be drawn.
For starters, here are the 20 most populous cities in the United States, according to the 2010 census: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Austin, Columbus, Fort Worth, Louisville, Charlotte, Detroit, and El Paso. By totaling up the crowd size estimates for these 20 cities, derived from local and national reporting, a pretty reasonable baseline figure can be reached.
- In New York City, an estimated 250,000 people flooded into Manhattan to march, clogging the streets around 5th Avenue (the street Trump Tower sits on).
- In Los Angeles, the turnout was estimated at a staggering 750,000 marchers, which would amount to nearly one-fifth of the city's listed population.
- In Chicago, an estimated 250,000 people hit the streets in protest.
- In Houston, in the thick of blood-red Texas, an estimated 20,000 people nonetheless turned out downtown to march.
- According to Philadelphia city officials, some 50,000 people turned out for the march, double what was initially expected.
- The city of Phoenix, Arizona saw an estimated 20,000 marchers turn out.
- In San Antonio, another city deep in the Republican stronghold of Texas, a reported 1,500 people participated in the march.
- The San Diego Police Department estimated that 40,000 of the city's residents participated in the march.
- The city of Dallas saw an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 or so people march.
- In San Jose, an estimated 25,000 people hit the streets in solidarity with the nationwide marches.
- In Indianapolis, hardly a bastion of liberalism, an estimated 5,000 people marched on the state house.
- While there have been no specific estimates of the crowd size in Jacksonville, there was indeed a march, with local media reporting "thousands" of people engaged in Northern Florida.
- The city of San Francisco, no stranger to high-profile acts of political activism, an estimated 33,000 people turned out. The nearby Bay Area city of Oakland boasted an even bigger march, with Oakland police estimating 60,000 in attendance, for an SF/Oakland total estimate of 93,000.
- According to law enforcement in Austin, the state of Texas' foremost left-wing enclave, up to 50,000 people joined the march.
- In Columbus earlier this week, an estimated 3,000 people headed downtown in support of the Women's March, albeit a little early.
- In Fort Worth, an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people marched on downtown.
- The city of Louisville saw an estimated 5,000 people attend the women's march.
- Charlotte's march was attended by at least 10,000 people, according to local law enforcement.
- In Detroit, an estimated 4,000 people marched on the campus of Wayne State University, reportedly one of hundreds of such marches within Michigan.
- In El Paso, more than 1,000 people reportedly joined a protest march along the U.S./Mexico border.
And, of course, you can't forget the central demonstration in all this: the actual march on Washington, which drew out an estimated 500,000 people, twice what organizers projected. If you total up all the figures listed above ― not even counting the unspecified number in Jacksonville, and taking the low-end estimates in Dallas and Fort Worth ― you arrive at an estimated 2,087,500 people.
When you then further include all the people marching in smaller cities and towns throughout America ― they were reportedly more than 600 "sister" marches nationwide ― it's clear that more than 2 million people is a perfectly safe, and an extremely conservative, estimate. For some clarity, former president Barack Obama's first inauguration drew about 1.8 million people. Trump's inauguration, contrary to his administration's complaints, clearly drew just a fraction of that, with big swaths of the national mall empty, and a parade route that looked virtually deserted.
So, if you participated in any of the marches, you can say it loud and say it proud: You joined with well more than 2 million people across the United States on Saturday, and you sent a very loud message to the new administration.
Whether they hear it, of course, is another matter ― which is why this kind of activist pressure needs to now be a permanent fixture of American life to be effective, complete with a concentrated political effort.