New Exhibit to Showcase Adam Purple’s Garden of Eden

Posted on: January 6th, 2011 at 6:38 am by

Saturday is the twenty-fifth anniversary.  On January 8, 1986, the massive Garden of Eden “earthwork” was bulldozed by the city to make way for federally funded housing.  The guerrilla undertaking was spearheaded eleven years earlier by Adam Purple, a resident of 184 Forsyth Street, and spanned five city lots. His inspiration was simple enough – watching neighborhood children play in the garbage and filth of his rubble-strewn backyard.  It was a “hell of a way to raise children,” and Purple decided the land could be of greater benefit to the community as a fully-functional garden.  At its peak, the zen-tastically circular Eden boasted 15,000 square-feet of virgin soil, and yielded fruit, nuts, asparagus, and corn.

Purple’s blood, sweat, and tears are now buried beneath Section 8 housing units that occupy the block.  All the more reason to cherish his legacy.  So Harvey Wang is on a mission to ensure the ecological masterpiece is not forgotten.  The career photographer, and onetime chronicler of Eden, is teaming up with Fusion Arts Museum at 57 Stanton to exhibit a selection of photos documenting the life of the garden. However, Wang needs help.  He’s taken to Kickstarter to raise money for the show, which is slated for a February 2 open.

184 Forsyth Street today:

Thanks to @lowereastnyc for the tip.

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  • jj

    When we moved into our 3rd floor apartment on Rivington Street in 1980, our windows looked out on Adam’s already completed garden. The garden was juxtaposed against the rubble strewn space between our building and the garden’s perimeter and was usually populated with junkies shooting up or nodding off . Quite the contrast. Being a garden type person I soon met Adam and eventually had a plot in his garden where I introduced all things green to my children. I hope Mr. Wang will have a picture of the wisteria (in bloom) growing up the 5 stories of Adam’s building’s fire escape, a wonderful spring sight and fragrance. The only physical thing left of his garden that I know of is a Chinese Empress tree which can’t be seen from the street. His was an extraordinary accomplishment–to conceive of, construct and maintain the garden for so many years.