Last spring, the city stopped the iconic “Alamo” (1967) sculpture — the 1,800-pound cube in Astor Place that can perform a slow-motion pirouette — when the Department of Transportation (DOT) locked down the steel block with a metal support frame. The strangely hypnotic artwork at the boundary of Noho and the East Village had been broken for a while, and in 2021, the city surrounded the block with a makeshift barricade. This May, DOT finally removed “Alamo” for restoration, and now, a little over two months later, the colossal cube is spinning once again.
Bernard “Tony” Rosenthal’s sculpture constitutes an impressive feat of engineering — the nearly one-ton artwork stands on one tip and miraculously maintains its balance when rotated. Passerby can send the eight-foot-tall sculpture spinning — slowly — with a forceful push.
The city installed “Alamo” in Astor Place in 1967 as part of a 27-part exhibition series on view throughout Manhattan. The show, titled Sculpture in the Environment, was only supposed to stay up for six months. “Alamo,” however, proved an immediate hit, and East Village residents successfully petitioned for it to stay.
The cube has undergone many rounds of renovations since then. This time, “Alamo” received around $100,000 worth of repairs (paid for by Rosenthal’s estate) by Versteeg Art Fabricators in Connecticut. The same fabrication company restored the cube in 2005, and this new round of repairs is expected to last another 20 years. Sporting a shiny new paint job, the cube left Connecticut and made a pit stop at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair this weekend before it returned to its East Village home.
Local officials unveiled the new and improved “Alamo” yesterday morning and voiced their appreciation for the 56-year-old sculpture in DOT’s May restoration announcement.
“The world keeps spinning,” stated the Village Alliance Business Improvement District’s executive director Scott Hobbs. “And so does the Alamo cube.”