The Occupy Wall Street movement, whose members have vowed to stay through the winter, are protesting a range of socio-economic issues including the 2008 bank bailouts, foreclosures and high unemployment.
More than 1,000 people marched past City Hall and arrived at a plaza outside the police headquarters in Manhattan in the late afternoon. Some held banners criticising the police, while others chanted, "We are the 99 per cent" and "The banks got bailed out, we got sold out."
Workers from the financial district on their way home watched as the marchers passed, with some saying it was not obvious what outcome organisers of the Occupy Wall Street movement wanted.
Police observed the march and kept protesters on the sidewalk, but no clashes were reported. Police said no arrests were made before the protest dispersed peaceably by 8pm after the march. "No to the NYPD (New York Police Department) crackdown on Wall St protesters," organizers said on their website, promoting the march.
Other online flyers for the march read: "No to Stop-and-Frisk in Black & Latino neighborhoods" and "No to Spying and Harassment of Muslim Communities."
The protest came less than a week after police arrested 80 people during a march to the bustling Union Square shopping district, the most arrests by New York police at a demonstration since hundreds were detained outside the Republican National Convention in 2004.
A police commander used pepper spray on four women at last weekend's march and a video of the incident went viral on the Internet, angering many protesters who vowed to continue their protests indefinitely.
The protest encampment in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan is festooned with placards and anti-Wall Street slogans. There is a makeshift kitchen and library, and celebrities from filmmaker Michael Moore to actress Susan Sarandon have stopped by to show solidarity.
Asked on his weekly radio show on Friday whether the protesters could stay indefinitely at the private park they call their base, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "We'll see." Bloomberg added: "People have a right to protest. But we also have to make sure that people who don't want to protest can go down the street unmolested."
Similar but smaller protests have also sprouted up in other cities in recent days, including Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.
An activist group hopes to launch an Arab Spring-style uprising in the US on Saturday, as they expect thousands of protesters to descend on Wall Street over the weekend.
The Occupy Wall Street Organisation is an activist network led by Adbusters, an activist magazine.
The mission statement of the groups reads: "On 17 September, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months."
On Friday, Occupy Wall Street issued a statement on their website saying that it has recently come into the media spotlight, not because of its political message, but because certain high-ranking members of the NYPD punched, threw, and stepped on peaceful marchers.
Arrestees were handcuffed so tight their hands turned blue. A senior police officer, meanwhile, forced women into pens and maced them at point-blank range, the group said.
"While we vehemently condemn these abuses of power, we urge all who read this to remain focused on our intended message. Abuse of power is abuse of power. Whether perpetrated by Wall Street bankers or members of the NYPD, it is the duty of all citizens to oppose injustice.
"We condemn the actions of unprofessional police who used excessive force in subduing a peaceful march. But we are foremost here to oppose the growing power of the ruling class," the Occupy Wall Street statement continued.