NYC’s Astor Place cube now buckled down as city mulls repair

Spin directly into the ground.

A beloved black rotating cube on Astor Place is in such sad shape that it’s now saddled with a metal bracket as city moguls mull repairs to the massive art installation — and neighbors scorn the nearly half-century-old treasure.

Cynthia Rosenthal, wife of Tony Rosenthal, who designed the “Alamo” cube, is outraged by the inaction, telling The Post, “I think it’s a crime.”

“It shouldn’t be in this state of disrepair at this point,” she said.

First installed as a temporary exhibit in 1967, the “Alamo” cube has been a fixture in the East Village, where New Yorkers and visitors from around the world could spin the 15-foot-tall, black cube as they moved around the city.

“Looks like a truck hit her,” muttered one passerby as he walked through the traffic island near the substation.

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But others explain that her sad condition was not so simple.

Astor Place cube.
The art installation is in disrepair as the city contemplates restoration plans.
Kyle Schnitzer

In May, braces were placed around the structure to prevent the cube from rotating, local outlet The Village Sun reported. The decision was made Ministry of Transport, who oversees the care of the “Alamo.”

And the cube has had previous repair work in 2016.

Dave Petrie, director of Tony Rosenthal’s estate, admits the cube has seen better days, explaining that fatigue in the cube’s metal caused enough concern for the cradle to put around the building.

“A van didn’t go back into it,” he said.

One 22-year-old East Village resident, a project manager who only asked for her first name to be released, recalled seeing children spin the dice as they passed by the interactive piece.

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Astor Place cube.
In May, braces were placed around the structure to prevent the cube from rotating.
Kyle Schnitzer

“That’s stupid!” Julie S. laughed.

“Just get rid of it—it’s rubbish!” It’s not even properly upright. It doesn’t even look like art anymore.”

Not everyone agrees.

Former New Yorker Nigel Phillips, who was visiting from Arizona, stopped by Astor Place to show friends his old hangout before shopping for clothes at St. Marks.

“If we went east, we pushed it that way. When we’d go, we’d push it the other way,” Phillips, a 30-year-old Jamaican-raised photographer, recalled of the “Alamo.” “That was our thing – every time we came here it was the block we had to hit; we always turned it around.”

He said he was stunned to see the cube in its current state, rust is now visible where the cube stands.

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Astor Place cube.
The Department of Transportation said the tension was only temporary.
Kyle Schnitzer

“It looks terrible – they botched the job,” he said. “It’s a bummer because I wanted to have my friends push it and record them.” It kind of put a damper on things because this was the place I always went to.”

The Department of Transportation said the tension was only temporary.

But how long is still unclear.

“DOT plans to make repairs to return The Cube to its original, rotating condition. This brace keeps the structure stable in the meantime,” said DOT spokesman Vincent Barone.

“We’d love to see it so people can return it,” he added. “That’s what Tony wanted – he wanted it to be enjoyed and not cradled.”


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