This 16-acre (6.5-hectare) park served as a military parade ground at the beginning of the 19th Century. Today, it is an integral part of the East Village's daily life. In 1988, riots occurred in Tompkins Square Park as a result of attempts to clear it of homeless people and empty nearby buildings of squatters. Shades of its past remain, but it is now predominantly a peaceful place, where people come to play basketball, rollerblade, sit on the grass, or just take a walk. It's also widely used for performing arts and other cultural events.