Alamo (sculpture)

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The Cube
Alamo in 2010
ArtistBernard (Tony) Rosenthal
TypePainted CorTen Steel
Dimensions4.6 m × 4.6 m × 4.6 m (15 ft × 15 ft × 15 ft)
LocationAstor Place, Lafayette Street and 8th Street, New York City
Coordinates40°43′48″N 73°59′28″W / 40.73000°N 73.99111°W / 40.73000; -73.99111Coordinates: 40°43′48″N 73°59′28″W / 40.73000°N 73.99111°W / 40.73000; -73.99111
OwnerEstate of Tony Rosenthal. Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society.

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 neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. It is 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 the base and was selected by the artist's wife because its scale and mass reminded her of the Alamo Mission.[1][2] It was fabricated by Lippincott, Inc.


Installed in 1967 as part of "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 Alamo. It has since become a popular meeting place in the East Village.[1][2][3][4] It stands in an intersection, across the street from two entrances to the Astor Place subway station, as well as the Cooper Union Foundation Building.

The cube rotates around a hidden pole in its center.[5] The cube's sculptor Tony Rosenthal never intended for Alamo to spin, saying in 2005: "I actually thought we would put it on this post and we’d turn it to the position we wanted it and then stick it like that."[6][7] However, the cube was never locked in place. One observer described spinning the cube as "part of the New York experience".[8]

The Alamo in front of an outdoor café after the 2016 renovations
The Alamo in front of an outdoor café after the 2016 renovations

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 made 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][9] 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.[10] On November 1, 2016, the sculpture returned to Astor Place after a $180,000 reconstruction and rust removal.[11] In November 2017, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation celebrated the sculpture's 50th year anniversary of its installation.[12]

By May 2022, the New York City Department of Transportation, which was responsible for the sculpture's maintenance, determined that problems with spinning the structure could cause further damage.[13] According to city engineers, the cube was in danger of tipping over if it continued to spin.[7][8] The DOT consequently locked it in place with metal braces, at least until additional work on the pivot may eventually prove sufficient to permit it to spin freely again.[13]

Similar cubes[edit]

Alamo is one of seven similar cubes created by Rosenthal.[14][15] The identical Endover 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 Endover 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.[16][17]


  • 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.[18]
  • In March 2006, the Graffiti Research Lab distributed LED throwies to a group of people to throw onto and decorate the Cube.[19]
  • 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.[20]
  • In October 2011, the visual artist Olek (Agata Oleksiak) made a crochet covering with their signature camouflage pattern over the cube.[21]
  • 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.[22]
  • In October 2013, a fake documentary video went viral claiming to show that a man lived inside the cube.[23]
  • For Halloween 2015, a man dressed up as The Cube and stood in its place. At the time Alamo was temporarily off-site because Astor Place was being rebuilt.[24]

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. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Grimes, William (August 1, 2009). "Tony Rosenthal, 94, Sculptor of Public Art". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  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. ^ "The Cube". Place Matters. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  6. ^ "Remember the Alamo? After Eight Months, the Astor Place Cube Comes Back". New York Magazine. November 4, 2005. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Chang, Clio (May 18, 2022). "You Won't Have the Cube to Push Around Anymore". Curbed. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Barron, James (December 12, 2022). "The World Keeps Spinning, but the Astor Place Cube Is Stuck in Place". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  9. ^ Lockhart (November 7, 2005). "Remember the Alamo: Astor Cube Coming Home". Curbed. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  10. ^ Carlson, Jen. "Video: The Astor Place Cube Has Been Removed For... A While" Archived October 17, 2015, at the Wayback Machine Gothamist (November 25, 2014)
  11. ^ (1) Yakas, Ben (November 1, 2016). "It's Back: The Astor Place Cube Is Being Reinstalled Today". Arts & Entertainment. Gothamist. Archived from the original on November 3, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
    (2) NY1 News (November 1, 2016). "Iconic Astor Place Cube, AKA 'The Alamo', Returns to East Village Intersection". NY1. Charter Communications. Archived from the original on November 2, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
    (3) Cascone, Sarah (November 2, 2016). "After Months of Delays, the Astor Place Cube Returns". artnet news. Artnet Worldwide Corporation. Archived from the original on November 3, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
    (4) Kaplan, Isaac (November 4, 2016). "How New York's Beloved Astor Place Cube Was Restored". Artsy Editorial. Artsy. Archived from the original on November 11, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  12. ^ "The 'Alamo' turns 50: A history of the Astor Place cube". 6sqft. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Frozen 'Cube': Iconic Astor Place sculpture's pivoting days in the past?". The Village Sun. May 18, 2022. p. 33. Retrieved July 20, 2022.
  14. ^ "Tony Rosenthal Cube Sculptures" on the Tony Rosenthal website
  15. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ "The Cube in A²". University of Michigan. October 31, 2000. Archived from the original on September 17, 2006. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  17. ^ "The Cube "Endeavor"". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on June 17, 2004. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  18. ^ "Astor Cube". All Too Flat. Archived from the original on July 21, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  19. ^ "LED Throwies II". Graffiti Research Lab. Archived from the original (video) on March 9, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  20. ^ Dobkin, Jake (April 2, 2006). "Astor Cube Attacked with Chalk". Arts & Entertainment. Gothamist. Archived from the original on May 22, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  21. ^ Brown, Eric. "Street Artist Olek Hits Astor Place in New York City" (video). YouTube. Retrieved December 24, 2011.[dead YouTube link]
  22. ^ (1) "Weighted Companion Cube". Portal: Unofficial Wiki. Archived from the original on May 10, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
    (2) Johnston, Garth (December 14, 2011). "Photos: Caltech Prank Club Blankets The Astor Place Cube". Arts & Entertainment. Gothamist. Archived from the original on January 6, 2012. Retrieved December 14, 2011.
  23. ^ Erikson, Christine (October 2, 2013). "Sorry, No One Is Living in the Astor Place Cube". Watercooler. Mashable.
  24. ^ Yakas, Ben (November 1, 2015). "Astor Place Cube Man Was The Best Costume in NYC". Arts & Entertainment. Gothamist. Archived from the original on November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.

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