On Tuesday morning, a group of New York City officials including DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez worked together to push the Astor Place Cube and got it spinning once again. After a months-long restoration, the cube made it’s debut at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair in Southampton over the weekend before finally making its way back to Manhattan’s East Village.
The iconic public artwork was removed from Astor Place Plaza back in May. In the spring, the 1,800-pound steel sculpture was sent to Versteeg Art Fabricators in Connecticut where it was outfitted with a new weatherproof spinning mechanism. According to the New York Times, the estimated $100,000 restoration work should “keep it turning for 20 years or so.” Versteeg got the cube spinning after a restoration project in 2005.
Originally installed in the East Village in 1967, the sculpture is officially titled “Alamo.” The spinning of the cube became its own sort of New York City attraction, though this wasn’t a feature intended by the artist, Tony Rosenthal. Rosenthal told New York Magazine in 2005, “I actually thought we would put it on this post and we’d turn it to the position we wanted it and then stick it like that. I did not realize that the turning was such a factor in people’s enjoyment of it.”
After the sculpture’s initial installation, it was never locked into place, but wear and tear and weather did cause the cube to lose its movement multiple times. In 2004, the cube got stuck and restoration workers had to climb inside to remove rust, unclog drainage holes, and make the piece more water-resistant. The cube was removed for the redesign of Astor Place in 2014. Untapped New York was on the scene in 2016 when the cube was re-installed after a two-year absence.
The latest restoration became necessary when the cube started to lean in 2022. The DOT fashioned a temporary fix that rendered the sculpture immovable. Now, after its latest tune-up, the cube is ready to spin once again!
Next, check out A Secret Version of The Astor Place Cube in Westchester and A Mini Version of the Cube