Alamo (sculpture)

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Just another Alamo afternoon.jpg
Artist Bernard (Tony) Rosenthal
Year 1967
Type Bronze
Dimensions 2.4 m × 2.4 m × 2.4 m (8 ft × 8 ft × 8 ft)
Location Astor Place traffic island, Lafayette Street at 8th Street, Manhattan, New York
Coordinates Coordinates: 40°43′48″N 73°59′28″W / 40.73000°N 73.99111°W / 40.73000; -73.99111

Alamo, also known as the Astor Place Cube or simply The Cube, is an outdoor sculpture by Bernard (Tony) Rosenthal, located on Astor Place, in the East Village, Manhattan, New York City. It takes the form of a black cube, 8 feet (2.4 m) long on each side, mounted on a corner. The cube is made of Cor-Ten steel and weighs about 1,800 pounds (820 kg). The faces of the cube are not flat but have various indentations, protrusions, and ledges. The sculpture's name, Alamo, is designated on a small plaque on one corner of the base and was selected by the artist's wife because its scale and mass reminded her of the Alamo Mission.[1][2]


Installed in 1967 as part of the "Sculpture and the Environment" organized by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cube was one of 25 temporary art installations that were intended to remain for a six-month period, however local residents successfully petitioned the city to keep the Alamo. It has since become a popular meeting place in the East Village.[1][2][3][4] It stands in the middle of an intersection, across the street from two entrances to the Astor Place station of the New York City Subway's 4 6 <6> trains, as well as the Cooper Union Foundation Building.

Alamo is one of five similar cubes created by Rosenthal.[5] The identical Endeavor stands on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Rosenthal earned a bachelor of fine arts degree. The cube was donated by the class of 1965 and was installed in 1968. The "Endeavor" cube also rotates but its pivot is sunken into the ground, as opposed to the pivot of the Alamo, which is on a separate platform.[6][7]

On March 10, 2005, the Parks Department removed the Cube for maintenance. The original artist and crew replaced a missing bolt, and made a few other minor repairs. A makeshift replica of polyvinyl chloride tubes named the Jello Cube in honor of Peter Cooper was placed in its stead. In November 2005, the Cube returned with a fresh coat of black paint, still able to spin.[1][8]

In October 2015, the sculpture was covered in a protective wooden box because of the redevelopment of Astor Place, but was eventually removed off-site again for "restoration and repainting" and to keep it "out of harm's way," according to a representative of the New York City Parks Department.[9]


  • The Cube can be spun on its vertical axis.[8] One person can push it slowly with some exertion, and two or more people without difficulty. This activity is frequently carried out by visitors to the sculpture.
  • In June 2003, the Cube was the subject of a prank played by the ATF squad (All Too Flat) in which it was turned into a giant Rubik's Cube.[1] The cube stayed up for about 24 hours before NYC maintenance removed the painted cardboard panels from the sculpture.[10]
  • In March 2006, the Graffiti Research Lab distributed LED throwies to a group of people to throw onto and decorate the Cube.[11]
  • In April 2006, a tub of chalk was left by the Cube and passersby began to draw on it. Seven individuals were later arrested for vandalism. The chalk was washed off by NYC maintenance the following morning.[12]
  • In October 2011, the visual artist Olek (Agata Oleksiak) made a crochet covering with her signature camouflage pattern over the cube.[13]
  • On December 14, 2011, Caltech students covered the cube in a fitted cloth, making it resemble the Weighted Companion Cube from the video game Portal.[14]
  • In October 2013, a fake documentary video went viral claiming to show that a man lived inside the cube.[15]
  • For Halloween 2015, a man dressed up as the cube and stood in its place, as Astor Place is being rebuilt and Alamo is temporarily off-site.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Moynihan, Colin (November 19, 2005). "The Cube, Restored, Is Back and Turning at Astor Place". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Grimes, William (August 1, 2009). "Tony Rosenthal, 94, Sculptor of Public Art". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Astor Place Cube Will Stay in Place". The New York Times. November 23, 1967. p. 33. Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  4. ^ Bleyer, Jennifer (January 30, 2005). "A Famous Cube Puzzles Its Biggest Fans". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Tony Rosenthal Cube Sculptures" on the Tony Rosenthal website
  6. ^ "The Cube in A²". University of Michigan. October 31, 2000. Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  7. ^ "The Cube "Endeavor"". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on August 19, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Lockhart (7 November 2005). "Remember the Alamo: Astor Cube Coming Home". Curbed. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  9. ^ Carlson, Jen. "Video: The Astor Place Cube Has Been Removed For... A While" Gothamist (November 25, 2014)
  10. ^ "Astor Cube". All Too Flat. Archived from the original on July 21, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  11. ^ "LED Throwies II". Graffiti Research Lab. Archived from the original on March 9, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Astor Cube Attacked with Chalk". Gothamist. April 2, 2006. Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Street Artist Olek Hits Astor Place in New York City". YouTube. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  14. ^ Woody Loverude (December 14, 2011). "Photos: CalTech Prank Club Blankets The Astor Place Cube". Gothamist. Retrieved December 14, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Astor Place Cube Hoax"
  16. ^ Yakas, Ben. "Astor Place Cube Man Was The Best Costume In NYC"Gothamist (November 1, 2015)

External links[edit]