During a brief repair and cleaning in 2005, and everyone said, "Remember the Alamo?" The Alamo is a fun sculpture than you can push and turn (with a little help from your friends).
Located in the small traffic triangle to the south of the historic Astor Place subway entrance and directly northwest of Cooper Union, this striking steel sculpture is by Bernard "Tony" Rosenthal. Fabricated by the Lippencott foundry of Connecticut, the geometric piece consists of a sectional 15'-high Cor-ten steel cube, painted black, and poised on one corner.
The work was first created for the multi-site temporary outdoor exhibition organized by Parks and Cultural Affairs in October 1967, entitled "Sculpture in Environment." It subsequently became a gift to the City by Knoedler Gallery, the artist, and an anonymous donor.
The spare simplicity of the work is characteristic of Rosenthal's minimalist style and that of his peers in the 1960s and early 1970s. Its imposing size and "impenetrable strength" caused the artist's wife to suggest the name Alamo after the citadel at San Antonio, where about 180 Texans were attacked by thousands of Mexican soldiers in 1836.
Alamo serves as a transitional feature from central Greenwich Village to the East Village, and is popular especially among the numerous college students who live and study in the vicinity. A miniature of the sculpture was created to honor the recipients of the annual Doris Freedman award established by Mayor Edward I. Koch to honor individuals or organizations that have contributed significantly toward the improvement of the urban environment.
9 March 1968, New York (NY) Times, pg. 25:
Bernard Rosenthal's Salon Glamour
By HILTON KRAMER
ONE of the few sculptures to attract any sort of lively community response in New York's recent "Sculpture in Environment" exhibition, in which works by living American sculptors were placed in a variety of open-air settings around the city, was Bernard Rosenthal's large, mobile black steel cube entitled "Alamo," situated in Astor Place. At almost any time of the day, one could see the students, bohemians and passers-by in the East Village area gathered around this massive geometric form, scribbling on its surfaces, pushing it, gazing at it or just sitting around it, clearly enjoying its presence. The work seemed to generate an aura of affectionate response altogether rare in the history of public art in this city.
8 May 1994, New York (NY) Times, pg. CY2:
Recalling the Alamo
The cube weighs 3,000 pounds; one person can hardly hope to budge it.
The tilted black cube, which towers 15 feet over the traffic island at the intersection of Lafayette Street and Astor Place, is called "The Alamo." The piece was put up in 1966 by Tony Rosenthal.