Tony Rosenthal

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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.

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