Adam Purple’s Eden

photo by Carl Hultberg

I grew up in Northern New Jersey. In my earlier days of writing poetry, Jersey was often my muse. Aside from the necessary forays into angst-ridden, heart-mildewing teenage poems of love, I often wrote about the landscape that surrounded me. By landscape, I mean factories, parks, shopping malls, and bus stations. These inspired me. Still do.

Then I moved to Brooklyn, and found a world I hadn’t imagined growing up in Jersey. A 30 minute ride away was this city whose reputation as a place where anything could be done proved so narrow compared to the actual breadth of possibilities it possessed. For the first time it occurred to me that there are many pathways through which life can be navigated. These pathways all bare their own truths, some overlapping with others, but all a part of what I consider the inspiration of dwelling (referring to Heidegger’s notion of dwelling).

photo by Harvey Wang

This morning I came across The Circle Be Unbroken, an article written by Albert Stern about Adam Purple and his Garden of Eden. Purple, a squatter living in NYC in the mid-70s, built a garden on neglected plots of city-owned land. The garden was this beautiful place in the middle of a city overrun with blight. Ultimately, the city forced Adam off the land and demolished the garden but there still exists a few wonderful photographs of the garden, and the story of Adam Purple’s Last Stand.

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