Following the Footsteps to Adam Purple’s ‘Garden of Eden’ in 1980 [VIDEO]

Posted on: December 21st, 2015 at 10:38 am by

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Purple footprints leading to the garden in 1986, Photo: Gustavo Bonevardi.

In our last dispatch about the cluelessness of the Mr. Purple nightspot inside the Hotel Indigo, we reported that employees had no idea about the man behind their employer’s namesake. Some told our sources that the late Adam Purple (aka David Wilkie) was a man who dipped his feet in purple paint and walked around the city.

Not true. That would be alternative transportation activist George Bliss. Before the city bulldozed Purple’s eleven-year-old Garden of Eden “earthwork,” Bliss created a rolling drum-like machine with “sponge shoes” that laid 40 miles of painted purple footprints throughout the city, leading people to the garden. Follow the footprints, find the garden. (The DIY creation is on display at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space/MoRUS.)

Thankfully, neighborhood chronicler Nelson Sullivan captured the trail of purple feet on camera before the Garden was destroyed in 1986. His footage – shot mainly on Avenue A – was coincidentally uploaded to YouTube (“5ninthavenueproject”) last month. The applicable piece is in the first two minutes, but there are also some great shots of Astor Place (before real estate blowhards started calling it “Midtown South”).

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