They came from all corners of the country. They came by plane from the West Coast, by car from the Southwest, by buses from the South and trains from all over the Northeast.
In the nation's capital on Saturday, they joined an estimated 500,000 women and men — and hundreds of thousands more in more than 600 cities across the United States and around the globe — raising a collective voice to call for women's rights. And many protested the goals of new President Donald J. Trump.
"Coming a day after the inauguration, it's like an un-inauguration," said Nikol Alexander-Floyd, professor of women's and gender studies at Rutgers University. "What it symbolizes is a profound dissatisfaction with the current president."
In one of the largest protests ever, demonstrators expressed disappointment in the results of the November election and, more broadly, the direction of the United States, its political parties and institutions. They spoke of fighting for abortion rights and access to birth control, and for other, mostly progressive causes, including preserving of the Affordable Care Act and safety net programs.
Trump supporters called for unity. They said opponents should give the new president a chance to govern.
But demonstrators crowded public spaces in cities and towns across the United States, with some of the largest gatherings in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston, and overseas in London, Paris, Berlin, Prague, Cape Town, Sydney and Mexico City. Estimates of total participants reached into the millions.
Baltimoreans and Marylanders joined the throngs on the National Mall. Many wore the pink knit hats named for a female body part that Trump bragged about grabbing in a 2005 conversation.
Kayla Zimmerman, an 18-year-old Towson University student from Reisterstown, said she hoped the Women's March on Washington would show Trump and Republicans "that they are outnumbered."
"We are not going to stop," she said.
Dr. Gwen Dubois, a member of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, said she was "concerned about climate change, nuclear war, peace and justice."
"To have this impulsive person with his finger on the nuclear switch is just not good."
"There are so many reasons to be here," added fellow physician Jerry Fitzgerald. "One of them is the concern about the risk of nuclear war. This is such an unstable and unpredictable president and government."
Jordan Carter, 22, of East Baltimore wanted to show his support for women's rights.
"Quality men are not afraid of equality," he said. "That's important for them to see."
By evening, neither Trump nor the White House had commented publicly on the protests.
The president began his first full day in office at a prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington. As his motorcade returned to the White House on Saturday morning, passengers could see demonstrators gathering.
Trump visited CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., in the afternoon and spoke briefly to reporters. He complained that the news media had reported that he was feuding with the intelligence community and had undercounted the crowds at his inauguration on Friday.
He did not mention the protests or take questions.
In a pair of tweets during the day, he said he was "honored to serve you, the great American People," called the inauguration Friday a "fantatstic day and evening in Washington DC," and thanked Fox News "and so many other news outlets for the GREAT reviews of the speech!"
Meanwhile, the larger-than-expected crowd in Washington on Saturday packed the planned route to the White House, making an actual march impossible.
Argentine Craig, a retired social sciences professor from Baltimore, worried that Trump and congressional Republicans would take away health care and housing programs on which Baltimoreans and Marylanders rely.
"The message I would like them to hear is not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and to work with Democrats to make it even better," said Craig, 80.
In one of his first official acts Friday, Trump signed an executive order to ease the way for a repeal of President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation.
Dr. Archana Varna, a 29-year-old psychiatrist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said she feels threatened by the Republican plans.
"I don't want them to set back years of progress we've made," Varna said.
Patrick Tansey, 34, stood apart from the crowd in a red Trump T-shirt. The New Jersey man had traveled to Washington for the inauguration.
"We came to photograph," he said. "I think the whole thing is sad. I wish there was more unity in our country."
Denise Strother and her daughter, Courtney, took a 15-hour bus ride from Tampa, Fla., to arrive in Washington at 6 a.m.
"I grew up during the civil rights movement," said Denise Strother, 60. "I never thought we'd have to march again for things we marched for back then."
Secretary of State John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, emerged just east of the Capitol building walking his dog. A wave of supporters charged toward him to take pictures.
"I'm here for the same thing everyone else is here for," Kerry said.
"We need them to honor and respect women," said Penda Ali, who took a bus from Philadelphia. "We don't want to go back to the 1950s and have to fight for our civil rights."
The mood at the march, on crowded trains and stations and in restaurants and hotels was largely festive.
Tayiba Garcia, 40, and Anna Valentine-Mitchell, 41, flew up from Atlanta and stayed in a hotel near BWI-Thurgood Marshall airport.
Their hotel was filled with demonstrators eager and giddy to get to Washington — even if they were unsure how their show of unity would be received.
"I don't have a lot of hope that this will wake up Trump," Valentine-Mitchell said. "But I do think it will wake up members of Congress."
The worldwide protests began with a suggestion on Facebook by a grandmother in Hawaii after Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election.
March organizers distributed talking points emphasizing that it was not just an anti-Trump demonstration. But the new president wasn't far from people's minds.
"I came to say we're not giving up and we will resist every step of the way," said Erin Albanese, 45, an attorney from Seattle.
Albanese said Trump's election left her in "shock and disbelief."
She started taking classes to reactivate her law license in Washington and helping activist organizations on the West Coast such as Together We Will, Action Together and Suit Up.
"I felt really compelled when I woke up that morning after the election," she said. "I've been talking to some local attorneys who have experience in activist defense.
"I felt like activists are going to really need lawyers. We can't rely on politicians to choose how things are going to happen."
Resist was the sentiment San Francisco sisters Julie Harkins and Susan Baldwin felt when they woke up the day after Trump's election.
"We feel like everything's under threat from Trump — the environment, health care, women's rights," said Baldwin, 68, a retired technology executive.
"For baby boomers we have the time, money and influence to make a difference," said Harkins, 63, a banker. "It's like the '60s all over again. … I think this is going to be transformative moment for the women's movement."
In the heart of the mall, the crowds pressed tightly together and struggled to hear the speakers scheduled to address the crowd, including celebrities such as Ashley Judd and actress Scarlett Johansson, Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, and feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
Crowds overwhelmed the streets. Dozens of people formed conga lines to snake through the chaos. Boys climbed street lights. Others took off their shoes to wade through fountains.
Neatrice Holmes, 41, of Baltimore hoped to hear Malcolm X's daughter. She had been unable to meet up with friends from Chicago.
"I'm on my own, stuck, but I've been enjoying the signs and meeting new people," she said. "I didn't know what to expect but I'm glad I'm here. I love seeing the solidarity, the diversity — even the men. It's incredible."
Holmes, who works in health care, said she is worried about what will happen to her patients, many of whom have pre-existing conditions, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
The coverage of the violence that broke out in Washington after the inauguration Friday had left her concerned about coming, but she was glad she did.
"I had to tell myself I can't let fear stop me from doing what's right," she said.
Baltimore Sun reporters Jessica Anderson and Sean Welsh contributed to this article.