The “Alamo” Cube Returns to Astor Place

Text and photo by Brian J Pape, AIA

July saw the re-installation of the Chicago-born Tony Rosenthal (1914-2009) sculpture at Astor Place, absent since May 2022. When it was originally commissioned by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in 1967, it was one of 25 temporary art installations that were intended to remain for a six-month period. Rosenthal stated, “It is…important the sculpture interact with the public.” New Yorkers petitioned to keep it in place and to keep it loose to swivel on its base, which wasn’t the artist’s original idea.

The 8’ x 8’ metal cube sculpture was initially titled “Sculpture in Environment” but the artist’s wife, Cynthia Rosenthal, called it “Alamo” and that stuck. Also known as the “Cube,” the constant spinning had taken its toll, needing frequent repairs.

Now with a new paint job matching the original, and a new foundation to keep the cube spinning for the next 20 years, we can enjoy a special “New York Experience” of turning the cube by hand.

Rosenthal’s estate paid for recent repairs and the city Department of Transportation is responsible for the maintenance.