I took a smaller walk later this weekend through the north half of the East Village. The East Village is generally defined as the area east of 3rd Ave. / Bowery between 14th. St. and Houston. The beatniks moved here beginning in the 1950's and in the 1960's it became a major hub of the counterculture scene. Today it's home to a lot of trendy bars/restaurants, shops, and (on 8th St. at least) tattoo parlors. I did the northern half of the neighborhood (13th St. - 8th St.), about 6 miles.
Of historical interest, I passed by St. Marks Church in the Bowery, which is the second oldest church in Manhattan and the oldest site of continuous religious practice in the city. The first building there was the family chapel of Peter Stuyvesant, the peg-legged Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam who prudently surrendered the settlement to the British in 1664. He died in 1672 and is buried under the current church building, which was built in 1795-1799.
I also passed through Tompkins Square park. It's pretty, but has a fairly violent past. Over the years it has hosted immigrant riots in 1857, Civil War draft riots in 1863, labor riots in 1874, and homeless riots in 1988. However, they saved the worst for last; Google Daniel Rakowitz. Also, it was the site of the founding of the Hare Krishna religion in the US. Sweet!