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Morning Spew

Make All NYC Landmarks Spin Like the Astor Place Cube

It just makes sense.

9:17 AM EDT on July 19, 2023

Kids push the Alamo, also known as the Astor Place Cube.
(Dan DeLuca / Flickr)

Have you heard the good news? As of Tuesday, the Astor Place Cube is back in action. Actually named "Alamo" (why?), the 56-year-old sculpture is once again in spinning form after it broke in 2021 and was carted off for repairs in May, to the delight of people who love to touch some public art on the way to, say, get a soon-to-be-infected cartilage piercing on St. Marks or go to that one Starbucks. While it's no Sphere, news that the Cube has been restored to its former rotating glory has brought myriad fans out of the woodwork—Hell Gate staffers among them. 

In our Slack alone, the Cube has been called "good" and "fun," with reports that spinning it "rocks." At first, this reporter was skeptical of all this sudden affection for the Cube—where were all these huge fans when it was rendered temporarily immobile? But chatting with friends at a bar last night, we collectively came to a stunning realization that has the potential to revolutionize New York City: All of our landmarks should be spinnable, just like the Astor Place Cube. 

The possibilities for whimsy and delight that a city of spinning landmarks opens up is nearly endless. Imagine taking a ferry to Ellis Island, gazing up at the Statue of Liberty in all her minty green glory, and giving that lady a quick whirl: Exactly what my ancestors came to America to do! Pay your respects at the 9/11 memorial, and then nudge the Freedom Tower into a solemn and respectful pirouette. A spinnable Brooklyn Bridge? Logistically complicated, but my God, would it ever look amazing doing a 360-degree rotation. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building in perpetual motion, adding gentle gyration to Manhattan's glittering skyline—stunning. And don't even get me started on what a rotational mechanism would do for the Vessel! That thing was made to spin.

So, how feasible is this "make every NYC landmark spin" scheme? I'm no engineer, but it reportedly took two years to repair the Cube (a year and ten months of doing nothing, then two months of actual repairs) when its spinning base broke, so I'd say it might take a while to identify every single iconic landmark in the city, rip them out of the ground, replace their foundations with some kind of shit to make them twirl around, and then put the whole thing back together again. Like, ten years or something? But if the Cube is any indication, it'll all be worth it in the end. 

Some links to get your mind reeling: 

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