Adam Purple, a legendary environmentalist and gardener who helped to save huge swaths of New York City’s Lower East Side, has died at the age of 84.
According to the New York Times, the eccentric gardener, who was born David Wilkie, died shortly after collapsing on the walkway of the Williamsburg Bridge, which connects Manhattan’s Lower East Side with Brooklyn’s Williamsburg.
Adam Purple was dubbed as the “original hipster” by a Daily News piece two years ago. Purple was a New York icon in the environmentalist community and was regularly spotted on the Lower East Side over the years, as he created a renowned garden and lived in an abandoned building. He would also speak fervently about recycling and went to great lengths to try and protect the Earth, even building a row of greenhouses, as well as an underground living space, which he called a “Great Circle” hemispheric sculpture.
He also abandoned driving in cars and would be regularly spotted riding his bike, while he also produced a tiny book entitled, Zentences!, which he would pass around while promoting meditation. One copy of this book has since been included in the New York Public Library as part of its rare book collection.
Time’s Up have confirmed to the Villager that Purple succumbed to a heart attack and that he had been found in the middle of the bridge. It has been reported that a passerby who saw Purple tried to give him CPR. Time’s Up is a Brooklyn-based environmental and cycling group had taken in Purple over the last three years.
Time’s Up released a statement commenting on Purple’s death, revealing that they’d lost one of their most popular and well-known volunteers.
“Yesterday, we lost one of New York’s most well-known and colorful environmentalists. We also lost one of Time’s Up’s oldest and most dedicated volunteers.
“We all knew and loved Adam. His commitment to a sustainable lifestyle was unrelenting and all-encompassing. The community garden that he created with his own hands was so lush and grandiose that even NASA saw it — from outer space! Appropriately, it was called the Garden of Eden.”
Adam Purple’s body was later identified by Carmine D’Intino, a friend of Purple’s who works as a musician. D’Intino traveled to the New York City medical examiner’s office on Tuesday to confirm that it was Purple.
D’Intino spoke to the Villager after news of Purple’s passing started to spread. D’Intino was supposed to meet Purple in the East Village on Monday afternoon, and he explained that Purple had been cycling in the Brooklyn area since around midday.
Speaking about Purple’s death, D’Intino explained, “I think the summer took a toll on him because it was very hot. He was living in a little room at Time’s Up. He was thinking about moving in with me.”
Purple leaves behind a son of 30, who teaches English in Japan, a grandson who works in publishing, and several daughters.
[Image via YouTube/Peter Shapiro]