SoHo Mourns Artist and Longtime Neighborhood Stalwart Killed on Scooter
SOHO — Even if SoHo and Greenwich Village residents didn't know the name Jessica Dworkin, chances are they saw the auburn-haired woman feeding birds in the mornings and zipping around the area on her foot scooter, close friends said after she was killed Monday morning.
As news spread around the neighborhood that the Thompson Street resident had been hit and dragged by a tractor-trailer as she rode her scooter shortly before 9 a.m. Monday, locals remembered Dworkin as a SoHo stalwart who knew everyone in the neighborhood and draped herself in layers of vintage clothing.
Dworkin, 58, was riding her scooter westbound across Sixth Avenue at West Houston Street when the massive vehicle made a right turn onto Sixth Avenue and plowed into her, police said.
Her body was caught in one of the truck's rear tires and dragged for about two blocks, when pedestrians and other vehicles were able to stop the unwitting driver, police and witnesses said.
Dworkin was pronounced dead at the scene and the truck driver was not expected to be charged, police said.
Dworkin, who also went by the name "Jessica Blue," moved into 128 Thompson St. between West Houston and Prince streets from Massachusetts in the 1970s, said close friend Craig Walker, who knew her for more than 20 years.
Talkative and warm by nature, the self-described artist regaled him with tales of writing for Interview and Details magazines, and frequenting Studio 54 in her younger years, he said.
Walker added that he would likely start planning a memorial service for Dworkin after he returned to the city from vacation.
The SoHo resident was a "fixture in the neighborhood," said Michael Robinson, the manager of the Thompson Street leather goods store Peter Hermann. He saw her almost daily for 23 years and said she used to change her outfit as many as four times a day.
Dworkin often entered the children's boutique Bundle, which is located next door to her apartment, with her arms raised over her head, store manager Alexis Field recalled.
"She used to come in and 'bless' the store and say, 'I can feel it! You're going to have a really great day here and sell a lot of baby clothes!'"
Dworkin, who friends and neighbors said did not speak about any family members, had volunteered for the past two years at the Judith C. White Senior Center at 27 Barrow St., which is run by the social-services organization Greenwich House.
"She was just a very happy person and wanted to be helpful in any way she could," said the center's associate director, Wlodek Koss. Dworkin was often there Monday through Friday.
"She was always the first to volunteer to do anything."
Dworkin might have even been traveling to the senior center the morning she was killed, Koss said.
Walker called the death of "Jessica Blue" another blow to the old-school, artsy quality that once defined the neighborhood and made it a haven for others like her.
"With her dies a piece of old SoHo," he said.