Adam Purple

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Adam Purple tending his Urban Garden in 1984. Photo by Tony Yarus
Above view of Adam Purple's Urban Garden on the Lower East Side of New York City in 1984. Photo by Tony Yarus

Adam Purple is an activist and urban Edenist or "Guerrilla Garderner" famous in New York City from the seventies to the present day. His name at birth was David Wilkie, though he's gone by many others,[1][2][3] including the Rev. Les Ego.[4]

He is often considered the godfather of the urban gardening movement, and his "Garden of Eden" was a well-known garden on the Lower East Side of Manhattan until it was demolished in January 1986 to make way for low-income housing. [5] [6][7][8] He is one of fifty subjects featured in Harvey Wang's New York, a book of photographs and brief biographies of notable and colorful New Yorkers.[9]

After Purple's "Garden of Eden" was destroyed, his friend, artist George Bliss, painted trails of purple footprints around the Lower East Side leading to the garden's former location.[10]

The image of Adam Purple familiar to New Yorkers in the seventies and eighties was of a man wearing at least one article of purple clothing and with a thick graying beard, riding a bicycle through Manhattan streets and scooping up manure left by hansom cab horses, which he used to fertilize his urban garden.[citation needed]


  1. ^ New York Times August 15, 1999
  2. ^ Adam Purple's Last Stand by Chris Flash
  3. ^ New York Magazine Jan 14, 1991, Page 33
  4. ^ The New Yorker, February 4, 1991, p. 25
  5. ^
  6. ^ Joyce Mendelsohn, The Lower East Side Remembered, Columbia University Press, 2009, pp. xii, 178-179
  7. ^ Sharon Zukin, Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 202
  8. ^ Sandor Ellix Katz, The revolution will not be microwaved, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2006, p. 108
  9. ^ Harvey Wang's New York, Norton, 1990, pp. 94-95.
  10. ^ Al Aronowitz (June 1, 2002). "Column 72- The Strange Case of Max Cantor". The Blacklisted Journalist. 

See also[edit]