Alamo Cube

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Art, East Village, Features, GVSHP, History

‘The Alamo’ turns 50: A history of the Astor Place cube

By Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Thu, November 2, 2017

1980s photo of the Alamo surrounded by mural, vendors, & musicians. © Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Image Archive.

On November 1, 1967, an enigmatic 20-foot-tall cube first appeared on a lonely traffic island where Astor Place and 8th Street meet. Though several months before the release of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the one-ton Cor-Ten steel sculpture shared many qualities with the sci-fi classic’s inscrutable “black monolith,” at once both opaque and impenetrable and yet strangely compelling, drawing passersby to touch or interact with it to unlock its mysteries.

Fifty years later, Tony Rosenthal’s “Alamo” sculpture remains a beloved fixture in downtown New York. Like 2001’s monolith, it has witnessed a great deal of change, and yet continues to draw together the myriad people and communities which intersect at this location.

Learn about the cube’s entire 50-year legacy

Art

The Astor Place Cube returned to its longtime East Village home just a month ago, after a nearly two-year absence while the intersection was under construction and it underwent a restoration. Sculptor Tony Rosenthal erected the 15-foot public art piece known officially as “Alamo” in 1967, and over the years he created around 10 mini replicas of it. One of them, measuring 21 inches and weighing 30 pounds, is up for sale on eBay for a staggering $30,000, which, as Bedford & Bowery points out, is not that much more than the $180,000 it cost to restore the actual cube.

Get more details

Real Estate Wire

42 Trinity Place
  • Renderings are revealed for the Financial District’s new supertall tower 42 Trinity Place. Designed by Studio C Architects, it will encompass more than a million square feet thanks to air rights from Trinity Church. [TRD]
  • The Stanford White-designed statue of Peter Cooper is back near Astor Place, but no word yet on when the Alamo cube will return. [Bedford + Bowery]
  • Construction begins on the new development at 1444 Third Avenue at 82nd Street. Will ODA’s proposed design for the site become reality? [A Fine Blog]
  • Three buildings in Downtown Brooklyn have been demolished to make way for a 28-story residential tower that will light up with colored LEDs at night. [Brownstoner]
  • Living in upper Manhattan’s Sugar Hill, rich in culture and affordable. [NYT]
  • When completed, the $50 million renovation of Fort Greene’s Paramount Theatre will return the movie palace to its former glory. [Curbed]

Images: 42 Trinity Place via Studio C Architects (L); Paramount Theatre via LIU (R)

Daily Link Fix

pega D&E, colorup lamp
  • During the first ever Madison Avenue Fashion Heritage Week, 16 stores along the world-famous shopping corridor will turn their storefronts into displays about their brand’s history, reports Racked NY.
  • Feeling blue? Pink? Yellow? Whatever color you’re in the mood for, the colorup table lamp by PEGA D&E can match it. Designboom explains that the fixture mimics the hues of anything around you.
  • Exciting news from the New York Times…the city will spend $130 million to renovate 35 public parks and playgrounds in low-income neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.
  • Bowery Boogie notices that the East Village’s iconic Alamo Cube has been barricaded off for the Astor Place redesign construction.
  • Calling all Downton Abbey fans…a lighting collection inspired by the popular series is coming. More on Home Accents Today.

Photos: colorup via PEGA D&E (L); Ranaqua Park in the South Bronx, one of the 35 that will receive funding, via NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

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