Walking to the beat of drums in a carnival-style atmosphere, dozens of men and women embarked on one-mile (1.6-kilometer) march from Columbus Circle to Bryant Park for the event, which this year falls on Women’s Equality Day.
Participants of all shapes and sizes held up placards proclaiming “Equal Topless Rights For All” and “War Is Obscene Not My Nipples, Meditate 4 Peace Topless.”
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” said Rebecca Barwick, 35, who traveled up from Virginia and works in the federal government.
“It’s important to send a message. These are our bodies. They should not be policed any other way than men’s. Men walk around like this all the time, so why is it such a big deal?”
Many inked “Go Topless” across their chests and wore hair bands with breasts popping up from the scalp on springs. One woman wore a blue Wonder Woman cape, and a couple of men wore bras.
Heavily out-numbered by spectators, the march was organized by US-based rights group GoTopless, which has spent 10 years campaigning for women to be able to go shirtless.
It is already legal for women to bare their breasts in public in New York, America’s fourth most populous state.
Parallel events were scheduled in other US cities, which this year fell on the 97th anniversary of Women’s Equality Day, when American women were given the vote.