The Astor Place Cube, commonly known as the Alamo, has been a feature of the East Village intersection for almost 50 years, despite originally having been intended to be a temporary installation. The same year it was installed, 1967, locals petitioned for it to remain in place. The artist, Tony Rosenthal, deeded it over to the city.
The Cube is an iron shape, 15 x 15 x 15 feet. Despite it’s nearly 2,000 lb. weight, it’s mounted so it can be spun, and passersby love to do so. It’s a part of the New York scene. Couples even kiss it for good luck. It’s been a NYC landmark for years. You see it in the background of dozens of movies, and it’s a favored target for public pranks of art, like yarn-bombing and fake documentaries.
In 2014, Astor Place began construction to make the intersection around the sculpture into a pedestrian plaza. While the planned plaza would be centered on the Alamo, construction required its removal in October of that year.
The locals missed it immediately. When one young man, Alex Quick, dressed as the cube for Halloween and stood on its empty site, passersby tried to spin him as they would the sculpture, and many stopped to tell him about its presence in their lives.
“People shared these really personal stories—things you don’t normally share with a stranger,” Quick told the Guardian. “I was not a stranger to them. I was like an old friend.”
The Alamo was supposed to be back in spring of 2016, but months of delays made people worried that it would never come back. So when it appeared in the newly finished Astor Pedestrian Plaza on a flatbed truck on Tuesday, November 1st, news swept the area, bringing out a crowd to watch their old friend restored. And when it stood again, restored to its place spinning slowly above the square, the crowd cheered.