NYC DOT Announces Astor Place “Alamo” Cube Will be Restored – and Will Spin Again This Summer

Astor Place Cube being loaded onto flat bed truck

New York – New York City Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and the Tony Rosenthal Art Estate today announced an agreement to refurbish “Alamo (Cube),” a beloved 56-year old sculpture at Astor Place Plaza in the East Village. Known as “The Cube,” the sculpture is popular for its interactivity, with a mechanism that has allowed it to spin when pushed by several people – but for the last year, that mechanism had stopped working properly. Work crews removed the sculpture last night and over the coming months, Versteeg Art Fabricators will conduct a full restoration of the sculpture, with costs underwritten by the Rosenthal estate. The restoration will be completed by this summer when the artwork is expected to return to Astor Place in its full spinning glory.

“We are delighted to share the news of The Cube’s restoration this year,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We are especially grateful for the generosity of the family of the late Tony Rosenthal, the incredibly talented sculptor. Rosenthal’s artistic vision in the 1960s has managed to capture the imagination and spirit of the whole East Village community for decades with an iconic sculpture that is best enjoyed when it is touched and spun with friends. I look forward to the Cube’s return to Astor Place in time for Summer Streets 2023 in August – when New Yorkers can once again join together and spin.”

“Generations of New Yorkers have taken The Cube for a spin, and we’re thrilled that DOT and Tony Rosenthal’s estate have reached an agreement to refurbish the iconic sculpture so it can keep spinning for generations to come,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “Public art is integral to the vibrancy of New York’s public spaces, and the restoration of The Cube ensures that its singular presence will continue to enliven and define this bustling corner of the city.”

“As a gift to the City of NY, Cynthia Rosenthal fully embraced the initial idea to fund the restoration of the Alamo,” said Tony Rosenthal Art Estate Director Dave Petrie. “The partnership between the City (DOT) and the Estate brings a fresh vibe to the renaissance of the artist, Tony Rosenthal.”

The 1,800-pound, 8-foot-by-8-foot-by-8-foot “Alamo (Cube)” sculpture was originally fabricated in 1967 by Tony Rosenthal (1914-2009) as part of the former Sculpture and Environmentalism program established under The Office of Cultural Affairs of the City’s Parks Department, which one year later would become The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Administration. The artwork has since become a key fixture of the neighborhood and serves as the backdrop for many neighborhood activities in the plaza. As DOT’s Plaza partner, the Village Alliance has supported with day-to-day maintenance of the artwork.  The proposal to conserve and restore the artwork received approval from the Public Design Commission (PDC) on March 20th of this year.

Versteeg Art Fabricators had previously restored the Cube in 2005. The Cube was last removed in 2014 by DOT and DDC during the capital reconstruction of Astor Place, when DOT created a permanent car-free plaza space. The sculpture was reinstalled to the plaza in 2016, when DOT formally acquired maintenance responsibilities as part of the agency’s Permanent Art portfolio, of which there are 23 works.

The Village Alliance will post signage in Astor Place keeping the public informed of the restoration.

“The world keeps spinning – and so will the Alamo Cube!” said Scott Hobbs, Executive Director of the Village Alliance Business Improvement District. “We are incredibly grateful to the Estate of Tony Rosenthal for working alongside Mayor Adams’ administration and the New York City Department of Transportation to ensure that the restoration stays true to the artist’s original vision. We are thrilled that the City is restoring one of New York City’s most recognizable and beloved public art sculptures. The Alamo Cube has been an iconic landmark in the Village for decades, and the Village Alliance can’t wait for it to spin again.”

“We’re thrilled by the opportunity to fully restore the Alamo Cube for a second time,” said Versteeg Art Fabricator’s Co-CEO Emily Versteeg. “Our thanks to the Rosenthal estate and The City of New York for recognizing our expertise in undertaking this important project. Drawing from our founder Peter Versteeg’s experience and longstanding relationship with Mr. Rosenthal’s iconic artwork, we will surely make the Cube spin again, and hope it can delight visitors to Astor Place for decades to come.”