Remember the Alamo? It’s Not What it used to be.

-By Brian J Pape, AIA

Installed in 1967 as part of “Sculpture and the Environment”, organized by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the metal cube sculpture called Alamo was one of 25 temporary art installations that were intended to remain for a six-month period. However, local residents successfully petitioned the city to keep Alamo in front of the Cooper Union Foundation Building, and across the street from two entrances to the Astor Place subway station. 

The cube rotates around a hidden pole in its center, thus the reason for repeated repairs; visitors love to see how fast they can make it spin. Despite the extensive repairs in 2005, on November 1, 2016, the sculpture was returned to Astor Place after a $180,000 reconstruction and rust removal.

By May 2022, the city Department of Transportation, responsible for the sculpture’s maintenance, determined that problems with spinning the structure could cause further damage. The agency consequently locked it in place with metal braces, at least until additional work on the pivot may eventually prove sufficient to permit it to spin freely again.


 Photo Credit: Brian J Pape, AIA

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